How Vaginal Dilators Work & What They Do
By Amanda Olson DPT, PRPC
Vaginal dilators, also referred to as trainers, are a helpful tool to train both the body and the brain to tolerate pain free penetration. For vagina owners with scar tissue, adhesions, post-cancer vaginal stenosis, vaginal atrophy and agenesis, the dilators can be used to provide a gentle stretch for improvement in elongation and width of the vaginal canal, as well as improvements in mobility and elasticity of the vaginal tissue.
Vaginal dilators are cylinder-shaped devices that often come in progressively longer and wider sizes to allow for gentle stepwise progression. They are available in different materials; however, most people find that medical grade silicone dilators such as Intimate Rose Dilators, are the most comfortable and easy to use. The dilators are placed into the vagina as part of a program to restore vaginal flexibility.
Who Can Benefit from Vaginal Dilator Use?
People with vaginas experiencing a myriad of pelvic pain disorders can benefit from vaginal dilators use in conjunction with other treatments. For those with hypertonic pelvic floor disorders including vaginismus and vestibulodynia, they can be used to help train the brain and the pelvic floor muscles to have better coordination to expand and relax to allow for pain-free penetration.
They are also helpful for those experiencing issues with penetration; this includes use of tampons, enduring medical examinations, and sexual intercourse. Pain-free penetration is best achieved by learning to coordinate breathing and pelvic floor relaxation techniques. This can be best learned with the help of a pelvic health physiotherapist.
Breathing and Pelvic Floor Relaxation with Vaginal Dilators
Breathing plays an important role in how our muscles behave. When we breath shallow and hold tension in our muscles, they can become tight and painful, often with tender points in them that can further drive pain. The good news is that by taking time to practice breathing deeply and learning to coordinate the pelvic floor muscles, relief from pelvic pain is possible.
To practice breathing, lie down on your back with knees bent and feet planted. Inhale through your nose and expand your belly upward and ribcage out in all directions as if your ribcage was an umbrella opening and expanding. Gently exhale through your mouth and allow the abdomen to return to resting state. On the inhale, the pelvic floor drops naturally, and on the exhale the pelvic floor lifts. This natural rhythm is helpful to practice when using vaginal dilators, as it will allow for coordination during entry of the dilator.
How to Know When It is Time to Progress to the Next Size
When you can comfortably use a dilator during gentle compression into the walls of the vagina and with body position changes (such as hands and knees or lying on your back with your feet planted on the wall), you may be ready to move onto the next size of dilator. Position changes with the dilator in allow for variation in pelvic floor muscle, pelvic organ and vaginal canal position. The clock maneuver is a helpful exercise to improve the flexibility of the vaginal muscles. To do this, imagine that the vaginal opening is a clock, and gently move the trainer in a slow circular method pausing at each “hour” of the clock to gently press the dilator into the wall of the vagina. Hold the gentle pressure for 30-60 seconds before moving onto the next position.
Intimate Rose Vaginal Dilators
Made of BPA-free, medical grade silicone with a unique silky finish to maximize comfort during use. They were developed by pelvic health physiotherapist Amanda Olson, who recognized the need for a gentle and comfortable training option for her patients. The dilators come with comprehensive guides, educational videos and a compassionate support team to help people reach their goals and feel their best.
Finding the Right Size