Vaginal Dilators: What Are They?

To begin, before anyone asks: vaginal dilators are not dildos! Many doctors, nurse practitioners and doulas we speak to at conferences know right away what we have on display. Others giggle and think we’re showing off a full range of dildos (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). Regardless of your response, these simple devices are life savers for many women. Once created in dark colors and looking much more like a penis, vaginal dilators are now softer, more attractive, approachable and easier to use.

What is a Vaginal Dilator?

Women use vaginal dilators in dilator therapy for a number of reasons:

  • Vaginismus
  • Dyspareunia
  • Post-Cancer Treatment
  • Post-Hysterectomy
  • Peri and Post Menopause

They are smooth and firm devices ranging from the size of a small finger to that of an average erect penis. The idea behind dilator therapy is to have the vaginal muscles relax, stretch and heal.

How is a Vaginal Dilator Used?

Depending on a woman’s recommended therapy, she might go through a series of guided exercises starting with the smallest dilator. The dilator is lubricated and inserted into the vaginal canal. As vaginal tissues relax and stretch, and with proper guidance, she can then move on to the next size.

Some treatments require vaginal dilator therapy after surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. This therapy can help prevent scar tissue and to allow the vagina to properly heal. While many women may not want to think that this will ever happen to them, it is a very present reality for others. Utilizing dilators can make the difference between living with pain or being able to have a satisfying intimate life.

Dilators and Vaginismus

For other women suffering from the tightening of the vaginal walls, or Vaginismus, dilators can help to gradually relax the muscles to make intercourse possible. If you have experienced any pain with sex or the inability to have sex due to tightness, talk with your doctor! Unfortunately, many women are just told to “relax” as a recommendation. But, if our visits with members of AASECT and ISSWSH have taught us anything, it’s that more and more doctors are becoming aware of this very frustrating condition. Most importantly, they’re learning to LISTEN to patients. They can then provide therapies such as dilator therapy, to improve your pain and quality of life.