A vaginal dilator (also known as a vaginal trainer or vaginal expander) is an instrument that women (and therapists) use to gently stretch the vagina. Vaginal dilators are used as an effective treatment for many different gynecological disorders and conditions. Aside from the pain that many gynecological problems cause, women often report that their sex lives have deteriorated, which is undoubtedly challenging - on many levels.
Vaginal dilators can help restore or expand your pelvic floor muscles and vaginal tissues. These tube-shaped tools come in various sizes, ranging from small (around the size of your finger) to large. They are made from medical grade materials, such as silicone and plastic. The VuVa vaginal dilator sets also include patented dilators containing neodymium magnets, which bring extra healing benefits.
When do you use vaginal dilators?
There are many issues that vaginal dilators can help you to overcome. We have listed ten of the most common problems helped by vaginal dilator treatment, along with the benefits of vaginal dilator therapy for each condition…
- Vaginal stenosis
Vaginal stenosis refers to the shortening and/or narrowing of the birth canal, and the formation of scar tissue forms in the vagina. Other vaginal stenosis symptoms are dryness, and loss of flexibility and elasticity. It often develops after a case of radiation treatment to the pelvic area, but can also be caused by genital surgery, an episiotomy (incision to the perineum) or congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
With narrowing or shortening of the vagina, vaginal dilators can return it to a functional shape and capacity by stretching out any scar tissue (fibrosis) in the vagina and relaxing the muscles and ligaments.
- Vaginal atrophy
Vaginal atrophy (atrophic vaginitis) refers to the thinning and drying of the vaginal tissues, as well as inflammation. These issues are caused by a lack of estrogen, so it happens most often to post-menopausal women. Vaginal atrophy can make sex painful, and in some cases it causes urinary issues too.
Vaginal dilators treat vaginal atrophy by increasing blood flow to the area, thus increasing natural lubrication and alleviating painful symptoms. Neodymium magnetic dilators do the best job, since the magnets maximize blood flow.
Vaginismus causes vaginal pain due to the involuntary contraction of your pelvic floor muscles (specifically the pubococcygeus muscle group), usually when intercourse or examinations are attempted. These muscle contractions and spasms can make sex very difficult or painful.
Vaginal dilators are one of the best vaginismus treatments in existence. That’s because women with vaginismus can train themselves to be comfortable with penetration gradually - in their own time and privacy.
- Dyspareunia (painful sex)
Painful sex happens for a myriad of reasons; sometimes it starts in the psyche, and other times it has a physical cause. Since it doesn’t always go away on its own, it is important to seek professional assistance in diagnosing your dyspareunia. However, as is the case with vaginismus, women can use vaginal dilators to either desensitize the vagina or become accustomed to the feeling of penetration.
Vulvodynia is considered chronic vulvar pain not associated with infectious, inflammatory, neoplastic or hormonal disorders. The pain often lasts for over 3 to 6 months, but can continue for years. It is estimated that vulvodynia affects 4 to 8% of women at any one time, and 10 to 20% in their lifetime.
This complex condition can have many underlying causes, which has made it notoriously difficult to treat. However, vast numbers of patients have had success using vaginal dilators for vulvodynia pain. In a clinical trial by Physician Care Clinical Research, 80% of participants had decreased vaginal pain when using neodymium magnetic dilators. All study participants also reported reduced anxiety linked to vulvodynia, plus significant improvements in their sexual health.
- Pudendal neuralgia
Pudendal neuralgia is the name for chronic pain around the pudendal nerve, which runs from the lower back, along the muscles of the pelvic floor and into the perineum. It is possible to stretch, squash or traumatize nerves, so the same goes for this nerve. Commonly this results in burning, aching, or shooting pains. It can also present as itching or oversensitivity.
Vaginal dilators have a high success rate for desensitizing the vulva, which makes them a useful tool for treating pudendal neuralgia symptoms.
- After pelvic chemotherapy or radiotherapy
When a woman has chemotherapy, radiotherapy or brachytherapy treatment to the pelvic area, scar tissue can form in the vagina, leading to dryness and less elasticity in the tissues. The vagina and vaginal opening may also shrink or form scar tissue (adhesions), which could seal the walls of the vaginal together.
Once treatment is complete, vaginal dilators (or also called vaginal trainers) are used to stretch the vaginal scar tissue in order to make sex and examinations more comfortable, and of course to retain the normal vaginal capacity. If you have had any of the above treatments, you should use vaginal dilators for the rest of your life to prevent scarring from forming at any time in the future.
- After breast cancer treatment
Breast cancer treatment can unfortunately lead to other troublesome side effects, since it can cause the deterioration of estrogen levels circulating in the blood. It may also cause ovarian failure. Many breast cancer survivors find themselves dealing with vaginal atrophy (atrophic vaginitis) as a result. As mentioned above, vaginal dilators are a very effective vaginal atrophy treatment.
- If you have lichen sclerosus
Lichen sclerosus (LS) is a skin condition affecting the skin of genitalia. It often affects post-menopausal women and has no known cause, although experts suspect an overactive immune system causes it. LS causes white patches around the vulva and inflammation. If left untreated it may cause scar tissue, tightened skin and shrinkage of the vaginal entrance.
Vaginal dilators ease the associated pain during intercourse by stretching out the tissue and relaxing muscles. Vaginal dilators can also prevent shrinkage and help to keep the vagina at its normal capacity.
- When your pelvic floor is tight
A tight (hypertonic) pelvic floor is a very common problem in women, and can happen due to excessive exercise, stress, anxiety, holding onto stools or urine, or as a result of another pelvic condition. A tight pelvic floor can lead to discomfort and dysfunction in the pelvic area, but you use vaginal dilators to help relax it and restore usual function. Dilators can reverse pelvic floor hypertonicity, hence they are a ‘go-to’ tool for pelvic floor physical therapists.
We hope that our article has shed some light on the occasions when you need to use vaginal dilators. Don’t forget to look around our site for a wealth of information on women’s sexual health issues, as well as our range of products designed to help you overcome them. If you have any questions, you know where to find us!
NCBI: Atrophic Vaginitis in Breast Cancer Survivors: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4493485/
Dilator therapy helps improve pelvic health and female sexuality. They are used to help a wide variety of female health concerns. Speak to your doctor today about how dilator therapy can help you.
Do you need to order vaginal dilators so you can start your pelvic floor therapy process? Made in the USA. Visit www.vuvatech.com
VuVa Dilator Company Helpful Links:
Tara Langdale Schmidt is the inventor of the VuVa Dilator Company. She has pelvic floor dysfunction herself and wanted to create a dilator set that is made in America that women can trust. VuVatech has been in business since 2014 and has helped over 50,000 women all over the globe. She patented the Neodymium Vaginal Dilator, that is clinically proven to help with blood flow and nerve pain.