How to Use Vaginal Dilators? 10 Easy Steps from a Pelvic Trainer
Vaginal dilators are a common tool used in pelvic floor therapy to restore healthy pelvic floor function and decrease pain and tension by stretching the vaginal soft tissue.
Reasons You Would Need a Vaginal Dilator
If you suffer from painful penetration or have been diagnosed with Vaginismus, Vulvodynia, Vaginal Atrophy, Vaginal Stenosis, Dyspareunia, or another medical condition then you could benefit from dilator therapy.
How You Should Use Dilators?
Before beginning dilator training be sure to consult with a pelvic floor physical therapist for an individualized program. When you start using dilators, always listen to your body and try the smallest dilator in your set or kit first. When a dilator becomes pain free and comfortable with full insertion you can progress in size.
Use the following steps as your guide for safe and effective dilator treatment:
- Wash your dilators with a gentle soap and warm water.
- Find a private and comfortable space to practice using your dilators that is quiet and feels safe and calm.
- Lie on your back and prop yourself up with pillows. Bend your knees and allow your legs to rest outward on additional pillows or props.
- Before using the dilators, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, focusing on relaxing your pelvic floor and your entire body.
- Add a water based lubricant to your dilator and the vaginal opening. Begin with the smallest dilator or the dilator chosen for you with your health care provider.
- Hold the dilator at the vaginal opening from the base and make sure you are in a comfortable supported position where you are not reaching. Take a deep breath allowing your belly to expand and the pelvic floor to release. As you inhale your pelvic floor muscles will naturally drop and can feel ‘open’ and as you exhale everything slowly returns.
- Continue this slow relaxed breathing as you gently insert just the tip of the dilator. If you experience any discomfort focus on your breathing and relaxing until this subsides. When it feels more comfortable, begin to insert the dilator a little farther.
- If you have been instructed to press the dilator down, to the sides, or specifically on scar tissue, you can do this at different levels of insertion. You can also apply gentle sweeping motions down and side to side. Stop and breathe deeply when you feel discomfort such as pain, burning, or tension. DO NOT PRESS UPWARD. This can be irritating and isn't necessary in dilator training.
- Practice leaving the dilator inserted or slowly inserting it fully with deep breathing for 10-20 minutes or per your medical provider’s instructions. This can be done 3 to 5 times per week or even daily depending on your goals.
- As you progress you can practice using dilators in different positions such as on your side, on your hands and knees, etc. You can also use the hands-free suction base of the VWELL Dilator Set if appropriate for you.
If you have trouble relaxing the pelvic floor you can use some of the following imagery. Imagine your pelvic floor or vagina is opening like a blooming rose with each inhale. Imagine your vagina is expanding like a jelly fish before it pushes off. Imagine your pelvic floor and vaginal opening like the bottom of a balloon as it expands.
Continue to browse the dilator section of our website and visit FAQs for more information.
Post written by Dr. Cassandra Sharp PT, DPT
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