| Caroline Knight
Today, more people than ever are unhappy with their gender and choose to opt for gender confirmation surgery. Although this is not a decision to be taken lightly, it’s becoming increasingly common. You might also have heard gender confirmation surgery referred to as sex reassignment surgery or genital reassignment surgery; when a man changes to female gender (MtF), the operation is called vaginoplasty.
As you might imagine, vaginoplasty is an incredibly complex operation that requires a great deal of aftercare to ensure long-term success. Anyone who is considering gender confirmation surgery should be aware of the aftercare implications, and we’re here to help with that. One of the most important aspects is the use of vaginal dilators, which we’ll also cover in this article.
Post-operative care for gender confirmation surgery
After MtF gender confirmation surgery (vaginoplasty), each person takes a variable amount of time to recover. It is normal to experience some soreness and swelling, and believe it or not, a ‘neo vagina’ is also susceptible to yeast infections and urinary tract infections… so consistent care is needed to prevent these.
After gender confirmation surgery, it is normal for either gauze packing or a stenting device to be placed inside the neo vagina, to be kept in place for up to a week afterward. After this is removed, it is time to start using vaginal dilators. Vaginal dilation is incredibly important after vaginoplasty, but different surgeons will recommend different protocols. Below we’ll offer a common guideline for transgender dilation.
Why are dilators important after gender confirmation surgery?
Post gender confirmation surgery, your body is likely to register your vagina as a wound, and therefore try to heal it. This would result in some shrinkage at the very least – if not total closure and/or development of scar tissue. For this reason, transgender dilation therapy is crucial; it can prevent all of these possibilities from happening.
You will want to maintain the depth and width of your new vagina, so your surgeon is likely to recommend using dilators a few days after surgery is complete. From this point, you will need to keep using the vaginal dilators ongoing - but less often as time goes on, of course.
Guidelines for using a dilator after vaginoplasty
Your surgeon should have the final say on this, so do check with them before starting dilation therapy. Also ensure that you are using the right sized dilators, according to your surgeon’s recommendation.
- Clean your dilator with warm soapy water, then rinse and dry it (the same goes after each use!)
- Use a water-based lubricant to coat the dilator before insertion
- Gently insert your dilator at a 45 degree angle; when it is under the pubic bone, continue insertion in a straight direction
- Once you have inserted it fully and are experiencing some resistance, leave the dilator in place for ten minutes
- Dilate three times each day for a period of three months, as soon as the gauze has been removed
- After three months, stat using a larger dilator for a further three months
- At between three and six months, use the dilator once per day for ten minutes
- After six months, use it two or three times per week for ten minutes
- After nine months, use it once or twice per week
Note that if your neo vagina seems tight at any point, you can increase the frequency of dilation. It’s also important to stop dilator therapy if you are experiencing excessive resistance, pain or tenderness – a little is normal, a lot is not.
A final word on genital reassignment surgery
We thought you might be interested in this helpful tip for resuming sexual intercourse: you may find the Ohnut ring useful, since this intimate wearable helps your partner to control the depth of penetration. Using an Ohnut ring means you’re less likely to feel any pain, and your partner will barely notice it.
The bottom line is that gender confirmation surgery requires regular self-care, so you’ll need to be disciplined with your dilator use. VuvaTech stock a range of vaginal dilators and we’re always happy to help, so feel free to ask if you have any questions!