What is a Vaginal Dilator and Who is it For?

Let’s start from the beginning, what is a vaginal dilator? Vaginal dilators or vaginal trainers are typically made of medical grade silicone and they resemble the penis in shape, but they are not anatomically correct. Many times, they are made in pretty pastel colors.

They are designed to be non- threatening and should resemble body tissue. They are progressively sized, meaning they get larger with each size. The smallest size starts about the size of a women’s pinky finger and they increase in size to the size of a very large erect penis.

Vaginal dilators are used at home and are a therapeutic device. They are inserted into the vagina (with lubricant) to help train the pelvic floor and vaginal muscles to relax, so that they stretch and expand.

Dyspareunia or painful sex is the most common reason to start using vaginal dilators. Inserting dilators several times a week and gradually moving up in size can help the vagina relax and stretch so that intercourse is no longer painful. They are an extremely successful tool to stop the pain cycle.

Women may experience painful intercourse due to lower estrogen levels that occur with menopause. Women diagnosed with cancer and receiving radiation and chemotherapy may also experience pain with intercourse. Many times, these treatments cause changes to the vaginal tissue as well the development of scar tissue. Women suffering with Endometriosis, Vulvar Pain Conditions, Vaginismus, and MRKH Syndrome may all benefit from dilator use as well as young mothers experiencing continued pelvic pain after childbirth. A pelvic floor physical therapist can help you determine if vaginal dilators are right for you.

When using a vaginal dilator, be sure to clean your dilator with mild soap and water before and after use. Many women find that running the dilator under warm water makes insertion easier.  Use a good quality water-based lubricant. When it comes time to insert the dilator, find a calm, private and relaxing place where you can focus on the task at hand.

There are numerous reasons why vaginal dilators may be helpful to you. Please reach out to your  health care provider with any questions regarding your  pelvic health.