| Caroline Knight
Vaginal dilators are a godsend for women who suffer from gynecological issues of all kinds. Women commonly use them to help with cancer recovery, sexual disorders, vaginal tightness and even serious birth defects. Vaginal dilators (otherwise known as vaginal expanders) can help women to become accustomed to penetration (whether for sexual or medical reasons), as well as to return the vagina to a normal shape and size if necessary. We are often asked the question “are dilators painful?” so it seems that many women expect to feel pain using dilators.
We want them to know that this isn’t the case, as if they’re expecting it, they may think it’s normal. Vaginal dilators stretch out the birth canal and restore normal function to your vagina. That may sound as if it could cause pain, but the truth is that using dilators shouldn’t be painful; if it hurts, something isn’t right. This article aims to help you understand what it should feel like to use dilators, and what to do if you’re feeling pain.
Reasons you may feel pain using dilators
If you’re feeling pain using dilators, it could be because of a gynecological disorder such as:
Women with vaginismus feel pain through any kind of penetration, since the vaginal muscles constrict and spasm whenever penetration is attempted. However, this is a reason for using vaginal expanders, counterintuitive as that may sound. As the woman has control over this penetration, dilators can help to prepare her mentally and physically for sex, tampon use or examinations.
However, at first use of dilators it may feel a little painful as she has to get past the initial fear causing the muscles to constrict. Over time, vaginal expanders can release tension in the pelvic floor in a safe and gentle way, making the prospect of penetration easier to accept and less painful.
If you have the painful condition called vulvodynia, you may experience some pain using dilators as vulvodynia can make it difficult to touch the vagina at all. Vulvodynia sufferers may feel burning or stinging pain in the vulva region, or a feeling of tenderness or rawness. If it hurts to touch the vaginal opening, initially you may feel some pain using dilators.
However, when used to them women recover much more quickly. In a clinical trial conducted by Physician Care Clinical Research, 80% of participants said their vaginal pain had significantly lessened after dilation therapy. All participants reported decreased anxiety linked to the condition, plus noteworthy improvements in their sexual health. Neodymium dilators tend to help vulvodynia the most, as they increase blood flow to the area.
How should it feel to use a vaginal dilator?
If you feel that your vagina is too tight and want to try using vaginal dilators, know that they should simply feel snug after insertion. If you do feel pain using dilators, you should stop immediately and make sure that you are following the proper insertion techniques (as recommended in our link above).
If you find that you are inserting them correctly, check whether you’re using one that’s too large. You can get dilators in various sizes, and the idea is that you start out with the smallest one and when that feels OK, you can move up to the next. You should feel some pressure when the dilator is inside you, and that’s an indication that you’re using the right size. Pain, on the other hand, may mean you need to reduce the size for the time being.
Lastly, if you find that you bleed a little after using a dilator, don’t panic. Although pain using dilators in not usually a great sign, light bleeding can be normal when you first start out, since the birth canal is not yet used to it. If you’ve had cancer treatment, it may be even more likely; but once the vagina starts to stretch, it should stop. Spotting or light bleeding during or after first time use is not usually cause for alarm, but if it continues or the bleeding is heavy, you should stop and see a healthcare professional.