The Ultimate Guide to Vaginal Dilators: Benefits, Usage, and Therapy


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Written by:
Emma McGowan, SFSI-certified sex educator
Reviewed by:
Dr. Elena Heber, psychologist
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The Ultimate Guide to Vaginal Dilators: Benefits, Usage, and Therapy

Embarking on a journey to improve your sexual health and comfort can sometimes feel intimidating—especially when it involves the use of unfamiliar tools like vaginal dilators. If you're feeling a bit frustrated or scared, know that you're not alone, and there's absolutely nothing to fear. In fact, vaginal dilators can open a world of benefits and newfound confidence, guiding you toward a more comfortable and fulfilling intimate life. 

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore everything there is to know about vaginal dilators, from their purpose and benefits to the step-by-step process of using them safely and effectively. We'll also provide helpful tips on choosing the right dilator for your specific needs.

So, take a deep breath, and let's dive into the world of vaginal dilators with an open mind and a positive attitude. By the end of this article, you'll feel more informed, reassured, and ready to embrace the benefits of using vaginal dilators with confidence. And throughout this journey, remember that you're in control and supported every step of the way.

What is a vaginal dilator?

A vaginal dilator, also called a vaginal trainer, is a tool designed to gently stretch and expand the pelvic floor muscles and vaginal tissues. They come in different shapes, sizes, and materials, but they all have the same purpose: to help you overcome various sexual health issues by gradually and comfortably increasing the size of your vaginal opening.

Types of vaginal dilators

The most common materials vaginal dilators are made of are silicone, plastic, and medical-grade stainless steel. Each has its advantages: 

· Silicone: Silicone dilators are soft, flexible, and body-safe. They're an excellent choice for beginners or those who need a more comfortable option.

· Plastic: Plastic dilators are firm, smooth, and often more affordable than silicone ones. They might be a suitable choice for people who prefer a firmer feel or need more pressure.

· Medical-grade stainless steel: Stainless steel dilators are heavy, durable, and non-porous. They're easy to clean and provide the most pressure, making them a good option for more advanced users or those with specific needs.

Choosing the right dilator

Choosing the right dilator is an important step in your journey toward improved comfort and confidence. To make the best choice, consider a few key factors that cater to your unique needs.

First, have a chat with your healthcare professional about your condition and the goals of your therapy. Their guidance will help you determine the most appropriate type and size of dilator to start with.

Next, think about which material might feel the most comfortable and suitable for you. If you're unsure, silicone is often a great starting point due to its softness and flexibility. Alternatively, Vuva’s magnetic dilators are made of medical grade plastic and have been clinically proven to increase blood flow and relieve sexual discomfort. 

Dilators come in sets with varying sizes, usually ranging from small to large. Some people do not need the entire set of sizes, and other people do. For more flexibility on which sizes to choose, VuVa sells its dilators individually, in packs of two and in a full set of 7 sizes. If you are unable to insert your pinky, VuVa offers the smallest dilator in the market (Size 1), which is comparable to a pencil in size. If you can get a larger tampon applicator in with ease, you may be able to skip the first two sizes. Choose a set with a range of sizes to allow for gradual progression. This will help you adjust at your own pace and increase the size as needed, ensuring a smoother experience.

There are also some that are “self expanding,” like Milli, so you only need one tool, rather than a set. As opposed to the set of progressively larger dilators, the Milli expands 1 millimeter at a time for ultimate user control and comfort. The idea is to start with the smallest size and work your way up as you become more comfortable.

Lastly, remember that quality and safety are crucial. Be sure to select dilators made from body-safe materials and sourced from reputable manufacturers.

What is vaginal dilator therapy?

Vaginal dilator therapy is a treatment process that involves the regular use of vaginal dilators or trainers to stretch and relax the vaginal muscles. This therapy can help improve your sexual comfort, prepare you for gynecological exams, and address specific sexual health concerns. Working closely with a healthcare professional, a digital therapy program, a pelvic health PT, or certified sex therapist, you'll create a personalized treatment plan that suits your individual needs.

Conditions treated with vaginal dilator therapy

Vaginal dilator therapy can be an effective treatment for several conditions, including:

1. Vaginismus: Vaginismus is a condition where the vaginal muscles involuntarily contract, causing pain and discomfort. For people struggling with vaginismus, vaginal dilators can be a real game-changer. By helping users gain better control over these muscles, dilators can alleviate the discomfort associated with vaginismus. Using vaginal dilators can also help break the mind/body association that many people with vaginismus have with pain and penetration.

2. Dyspareunia: One of the main perks of using dilators is that they can help ease pain during penetrative sex, aka dyspareunia. By gently helping people get more comfortable with penetration and working on strengthening or relaxing the involved muscles, dilators can make a remarkable difference in sexual experiences. Vaginal dilator therapy can also help address the underlying causes of dyspareunia, such as muscle tension or scarring.

3. Vulvodynia: Vulvodynia is a chronic pain condition that affects the vulva, the external part of the female genitals. Dilator therapy can help desensitize the area and reduce pain.

4. Anxiety around gynecological exams: Vaginal dilators can also be quite helpful when it comes to preparing for gynecological exams. If the thought of a pelvic exam causes anxiety, using dilators can help users become more familiar with the sensation of having something inserted into their vagina, making the exam experience more comfortable and less daunting. 

5. Post-surgical or post-radiation therapy: Lastly, vaginal dilators can play an essential role in post-surgical recovery. Some people may need to use dilators after undergoing specific surgeries, such as a hysterectomy or vaginoplasty. Dilators can assist in maintaining vaginal flexibility and preventing scar tissue formation, ensuring a smoother and more reassuring healing process. 

How to use vaginal dilators

The thought of beginning vaginal dilator therapy might feel daunting. But, please remember, you're not alone in this journey. There's a whole community of support and understanding that surrounds you. The process is simpler and more straightforward than you might think, and it's something that can smoothly integrate into your self-care routine.

These are just small steps on your path towards comfort and confidence. It might seem challenging initially, but with each step, you're making progress. And with this progress comes a newfound strength and resilience that you may not have known you had.

To ensure the safe and effective use of vaginal dilators, it's essential to keep a few key tips in mind. First and foremost, always consult a healthcare professional or a digital therapeutics coach before starting dilator therapy. They can help you determine if it's the right approach for your specific needs and guide you along the way.

When you're ready to begin, start with the smallest dilator in your set, and gradually work your way up to larger sizes as you become more comfortable. Remember, patience and consistency are vital in this journey. Vaginal dilator therapy takes time, so it's essential to follow your treatment plan closely and give yourself the time you need to adjust.

It's also crucial to listen to your body. While some discomfort is normal during the process, you should never push yourself beyond your limits. If you experience severe pain or discomfort, move down one dilator size. Should this not help to reduce the pain, stop and consult with your healthcare professional or coach for guidance. 

With all of that in mind, let's dive into the step-by-step guide to using vaginal dilators and help you feel more at ease.

1. Choose a comfortable and private location where you feel relaxed and safe.

2. Wash your hands and the dilator with mild soap and warm water, and dry them thoroughly.

3. Apply a water-based lubricant to the dilator and the entrance of your vagina.

4. Get into a comfortable position, such as lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the surface or lying on your side with your top leg bent.

5. Take a few deep breaths and relax your pelvic muscles.

6. Gently insert the dilator into your vagina at a 45-degree angle, aiming toward the small of your back.

7. Once the dilator inserted as far as is comfortable for you, let it rest in place for a few minutes or according to your healthcare professional's recommendation.

8. Slowly remove the dilator and clean it with mild soap and water. Store it in a clean and dry place.

Remember, there are people around you who are ready to guide and support you through this. Beyond introducing discomfort, dilator training can take a toll on your emotional health. You don't have to face this journey alone. You're on your way to a future of improved comfort and confidence, and every small step you take is a testament to your courage and strength. 

If you are struggling to meet your dilating goals or to stick to your routine, HelloGina can help. HelloGina leverages psychology to help you meet your goals. That’s why our motto is ‘work with your body, not against it.’ Our coaches are here to help you stay motivated and give yourself the self-love you deserve throughout your healing journey.

Frequently Asked Questions about vaginal dilators

1. Will using a dilator hurt?

Some discomfort is normal, especially when starting out. However, pain should not be severe. Remember to use plenty of lubricant, go slow, and relax your pelvic muscles. 

2. How often should I use my dilator?

Your healthcare professional will provide a specific recommendation based on your needs. Generally, it's advised to use the dilator several times a week or even daily for best results.

3. How long does it take for vaginal dilator therapy to work?

It depends on the individual and the specific condition being treated. Some people may see improvements within a few weeks, while others might need several months of consistent therapy.

4. Can I use a dilator during pregnancy?

Consult your healthcare professional before using a dilator during pregnancy, as specific recommendations may vary depending on your situation.


Emma McGowan

Emma McGowan is a writer, editor, and SFSI-certified sex educator with over a decade of content marketing experience. She is currently the managing editor of consumer-facing blogs at the global cybersecurity and privacy company, Gen. Emma was formerly a sex/relationships/dating writer at Bustle, including their sex advice advice column SEX IDK, and the senior writer at Her work has appeared on Buzzfeed, Broadly, Bedsider, Mashable, The Daily Dot, Mic, and The Bold Italic, and Sexual + Being, among others. When she's not writing and editing, Emma can be found sewing, reading, and playing with her two cats, Dwight and Poe.
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