Usually dilator training (using a vaginal dilator) is recommended by healthcare professionals, when your vaginal area is tight (too small) to have intercourse, a smear test, or other forms of penetration, or pain free penetration.
When your doctor or specialist tells you, you need to use a vaginal dilator, or do dilator training, it can be quite confusing and scary.
If you suffer with vaginismus, vaginal atrophy (also known as menopausal atrophy), dilator training is one of the most common forms of recommended treatment by healthcare professionals.
Many women are either not told how to use it, or are confused about how they should be using it.
Some dilators don’t really have adequate instructions included, about how to use it.
For this reason I thought it worth while to share with you what I have learnt about using a dilator, on my journey with vaginismus.
Ideally, if your healthcare professional hasn’t shown you how to use a dilator, or given you adequate instructions, it is best to find a better healthcare professional to help you.
If you rush into dilator training, you could risk making your condition worse, or injuring yourself.
The Basics Of Using A Vaginal Dilator
For many of us the thought of using a dilator is repulsive. Especially if your religious beliefs, family, or culture, class touching your sacred lady bits as tabu, or something a lady ‘just should not do’.
If you feel this way, remember you are doing it for medical reasons, and in this day and age, it is quite acceptable for ladies to experiment things in regards to their lady parts.
Before you begin, make sure you do your dilator training at a time when you are not likely to get any interruptions. For example if you have children, wait until they are with some else, or when they are soundly asleep.
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(1) Make sure the dilator is clean. Dilators usually come with instructions on what type of cleaners to use to clean them with. Many dilators can be cleaned in hot (not boiling) water.
Read the manufacturers cleaning instructions carefully to minimize damage to your dilator.
TIP: NEVER use household cleaners on your dilator. I have put a range of dilator/sex toy cleaners in our shop – To view or purchase see Vaginal Dilator/Sex Toy Cleaners Section.
(2) Get into a relaxed mindset. Try not to get nervous, or let the fear of pain take over your mind, as this can make you tense up even more.
TIP: Having a nice long soak in the bath, with relaxing music may help you to relax. Try to think of your upcoming dilator session as a fun game, even if you have to trick your mind into it.
(3) Find a room you can relax in – Lay down with your feet on the surface (bed or couch), knees up, with legs apart.
(4) Always start with the smallest dilator size. As time goes by, you can work your way up to the next size up.
TIP: Only use a lubricant that is designed for using in the vaginal area. Always check the information leaflet that came with your dilator, to see whether you should use a water based, or silicone based lubricant when using your particular dilator.
If you use the wrong type of lubricant with your dilator, you risk damaging it.
*Most of the dilators I have used, or read about, have always recommended using water based lubricants, and dilator cleaners.
If you would like to view or purchase vaginal lubricant see our Vaginal Lubricant section.
(6) Insert the rounded end of the dilator into your vaginal area. Never just push the dilator in – Gently move the dilator around the outside of the vaginal area first.
* Some healthcare professionals advise to do kegel exercises before you insert the dilator. I did try this but found it made my vaginal area tense up even more. Instead, I focused on deep breathing.*
If you start to tense up at this point, take a few slow but deep breaths to relax.
Having some nice soft relaxing music playing in the background can also be beneficial. This is also a good idea if you are using a vibrating dilator, as some of these can have a buzzing sound, and you sure don’t want others in the house to know what you are doing – lol.
(7) Gently start to push the dilator tip on the entrance of the vagina. You may need to just leave it at this point and focus on your breathing if you feel yourself tensing up.
(8) If you feel NO pain, continue to insert the dilator further until you can feel slight pressure, or muscle tension. Always work slowly, and never keep pushing it in, to the extent you feel pain.
TIP: Don’t be upset if you cannot insert the dilator in very far. This is common at the beginning. Patience is needed. Over time, with more practice you will reach your goal.
(9) Now just leave the dilator inside your vagina for 5-10 mins. The concept behind this is for the dilator to gently stretch your vagina.
* Once I had done this for a few weeks I started to gently penetrate, move the dilator up and down while inside the vagina. I also started to do kegel exercises while the dilator was inside me.*
(10) When you have finished your dilating session, gently remove the dilator.
TIP: If the dilator is hard to remove, the lubricant may have dried out (evaporated). When this happens, I gently twist the dilator as I remove it. This seems to make removal easier.
(11) After you have removed the dilator, clean it (with the appropriate cleaner), and put it away ready for your next session.
TIP: When I clean my dilator after a session, I put it in a clean plastic bag.
Once you can easily insert the dilator size you are using without pressure in the vaginal area, try graduating up to the next size.
Please don’t be hard on yourself if it takes you weeks, months or longer to graduate up a size. With regular practice, you will be able to move up to a bigger size.
Pain Or Soreness After A Dilating Session
Not all of you will feel pain or soreness after a dilating session, but I felt it was worth mentioning…
If you feel a little sore or tender after your dilating session, this is normal, due to the dilator stretching your vaginal muscles.
If you experience a lot of soreness after your dilating session, you may have pushed the dilator in too far, or too quickly.
You may also experience a lot of soreness if you have done your dilating session for too long, or you have used a size that is too big for you at the moment.
*At the beginning of my dilator therapy, I often felt a dull ache after a session. When this happened I would hold off doing another session for 1 – 3 days, before commencing another session.*
Some of you may experience a little spotting afterwards, particularly if you have vaginal atrophy, or vaginal dryness. You may find wearing a panty liner after your dilator session beneficial.
If you bleed a lot, contact your healthcare professional.
END NOTE: Try to do dilator training as often as possible – daily if possible. Be patient about how long it will take you to reach your desired goals. Everyone is different when it comes to how long it will take to reach their goal.
Do each session slowly, never rush. Don’t forget to use plenty of vaginal lubricant during each dilating session.
TIP: Many women prefer to use a vibrator rather than a standard dilator, as the vibration relaxes the vaginal area internally and externally.
I prefer to use a vibrating dilator rather than a standard dilator, as the vibration helps to relax the vaginal area internally and externally.
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“(DISCLAIMER: I am not a health care professional, the information in this article is based on my own personal experience of living with vaginismus, vaginal atrophy (including menopause issues), and what I have learned along the way. Some articles on this website will include other womanly issues that I feel women need to know about. If you have any concerns about your health, it is best for you to seek advice from a health care professional – Full disclaimer)“.