A Comprehensive Guide to Vaginal Dilators
Living with vaginal pelvic floor issues can be a challenging journey, often affecting your physical and emotional well-being. However, there are various tools and techniques available to help manage vaginal muscle tightening and improve your quality of life. One such invaluable tool is vaginal dilators. In this blog post, we will explore what vaginal dilators are, the different types available, and how to use them effectively to regain comfort and confidence. We will also draw on the expertise of Sheryl Kingsberg, PhD, chief of behavioral medicine at MacDonald Women’s Hospital/University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and Professor in Reproductive Biology, Psychiatry and Urology at Case Western Reserve University, to provide you with the most accurate and insightful information.
What Are Vaginal Dilators?
Vaginal dilators are medical devices designed to gently stretch and expand the vaginal muscles. They come in two primary categories: static and dynamic.
- Static Dilators: The static dilator can come in all shapes and sizes– some are straight, some are curved, some are rigid, and others are flexible. They can be made from a variety of materials, like hard plastic, silicone, medical-grade latex, and glass. They typically come in sets of progressively larger sizes so a patient can advance to the next size as their insertion comfort improves and confidence levels increase.
- Dynamic Dilator: Milli, the unique dilator that expands incrementally, offers precise control without the need for constant removal and reinsertion. Its smooth silicone cover is designed for a comfortable experience, and you can opt for vibration if desired. Learn more about Milli here.
How to Use Vaginal Dilators
- Gather Supplies: You will need lubricant, a clean and quiet space, and a mirror for guidance
- Tip #1: Use a water-based lubricant to reduce friction and make insertion more comfortable. Avoid oil-based or silicone-based lubricants, as they can damage certain types of dilators.
- Relaxation: Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, to calm your muscles and reduce anxiety
- Tip #2: Create a calming atmosphere in your space with soft lighting, soothing music, or aromatherapy to enhance relaxation.
- Lubrication: Apply a generous amount of water-based lubricant to both the dilator and the entrance of your vagina
- Tip #3: Re-apply lubricant as needed during the process to maintain comfort and reduce friction.
- Insertion: Gently insert the dilator into your vagina while lying down or in a comfortable position. Go slowly and stop if you feel any pain.
- Gradual Expansion: Leave the dilator in place for a few minutes, allowing your muscles to adjust. Over time, you can progress to a larger size.
- Consistency: Perform this routine regularly, at least 3-5 times per week, or as recommended by your healthcare provider.
Expert Insights from Dr. Sheryl Kingsberg
In a recent podcast, Dr. Sheryl Kingsberg, a compassionate clinical psychologist and the division chief of Behavioral Medicine at University Hospital’s Cleveland Medical Center, shared her valuable insights on the topic of vaginismus. She’s like a guiding light in the realm of women’s sexual health, and her warmth and expertise shine through in her discussions.
During the podcast, Dr. Kingsberg made it clear that terminology matters less than understanding the condition itself. She explained that vaginismus, often referred to as an anxiety response, can be triggered by various factors. These include medical conditions, anxiety disorders, or even past traumatic experiences. Dr. Kingsberg stressed the significance of addressing the underlying causes to effectively treat vaginismus.
One crucial aspect she highlighted is the use of dilators in the treatment process. Dilators, whether static or dynamic, play a pivotal role in helping women gradually regain control over their bodies and reduce anxiety associated with vaginal penetration. The goal of these tools is to empower patients to learn that penetration need not be painful. Dilator therapy can be an essential part of the journey to a more pleasurable and fulfilling sexual life. Dr. Kingsberg’s expertise and compassionate approach offer hope and guidance to patients seeking relief from vaginismus, fostering understanding and empowerment in their personal journeys to recovery.
Marnie Glavin, the visionary founder of Pelvic Health Support, will be hosting an insightful interview with Dr. Kingsberg. They will navigate the intricacies of Vaginismus, fostering a deeper comprehension of its physical and mental dimensions while exploring treatment options.
Don’t miss this enlightening discussion – subscribe to the Pelvic Health Support YouTube channel to gain invaluable insights.
 Liu M, Juravic M, Mazza G, Krychman ML. Vaginal Dilators: Issues and Answers. Sex Med Rev. 2021 Apr;9(2):212-220. doi: 10.1016/j.sxmr.2019.11.005. Epub 2020 Jan 31. PMID: 32014450.