Q: A number of years ago I had uterine cancer and as a result, I have to dilate every other day. I am currently using a medical dilator and it is not very comfortable and I would like to purchase something that is not as hard. It would be great if it was something that is targeted more for pleasure than just dilation. I was hoping you might be able to point me in the right direction.
A: This is not an uncommon question in Sexuality Education talks I have done or indeed over our email. So I thought it was time to talk about vaginal dilators and options to move from dilators to something more pleasure orientated. To do this I spoke to one of the most amazing, compassionate and dedicated Pelvic Physiotherapists I know, Sami Cattach from Body and Birth Physio. Sami graciously answered some questions about dilators for us, read on to learn more.
What is a vaginal dilator? Vaginal dilators are usually a set of cylindrical, tapered trainers used to gradually teach the pelvic floor muscles and vaginal tissues to relax and accommodate to increasing size. They often range in diameter from 15mm to 38mm, depending on the set and brand.
Why would someone use a vaginal dilator? Dilators, or trainers, are helpful for women who typically experience pain with intercourse, or who haven't been able to have intercourse due to pain around the vaginal opening. As a pelvic floor physiotherapist, I have found it to be a very helpful tool in conjunction with pelvic floor muscle down-training, hip and lower back stretching, sensation retraining, relaxation strategies and education to help women experience pain-free and enjoyable sex.
When sex has been painful in the past, it is very normal to tense up even before intercourse as your body anticipates pain and tries to protect itself. Dilators allow the woman to be fully in control as she progresses through the sizes, helping to retrain not just the muscles, but also the brain to learn that penetration does not have to equal pain.
In less common scenarios where a woman may have scar tissue or a congenitally smaller vaginal opening, the dilators can be used consistently to actually help gradually stretch and increase the suppleness of the tissues.
Vibrate, dilate or wait? In the context of things like - For someone that is not sexually active, why do they need to do vaginal dilation post-cancer treatment or other trauma? Can someone in this situation use a vibrator they have at home instead? In scenarios where a woman may have scar tissue or a congenitally smaller vaginal opening, the dilators can be used consistently to actually help stretch and increase the suppleness of the tissues, managing pelvic pain or making it easier to use tampons.
A vibrator can also be used to a similar effect to help relax and retrain muscles in these cases. However, the dilators do allow a more gradual progression of size with a more tapered point which some women will find much more comfortable as they get started.
The Team at Bliss loves working with the network of professionals from various fields that we have connected with. Sami is an amazing speaker and dedicated women’s health professional here in Brisbane.
Did you know that the Kama Vibrator by Rocks off is one product stocked by Bliss that is known worldwide for being an ideal first vibrator, and can help those suffering from vaginal tightness who are concerned about buying a product with a larger girth? We also stock other products that could be options like the Daisy by Svakom and Cici by Svakom. You should make sure you order a quality lubricant with any of these products.
The dilators we stock from the Inspire range are made of a soft, smooth and flexible silicone, the two-pack comes with a bullet vibrator and the 6 pack works really beautifully in conjunction with a bullet vibrator purchased seperatley. They offer the graduated size progression but are not as hard and clinical as other medical dilators. You should speak to your pelvic physio or medical professional about the suitability of this or any other product.
For more information on Uterine Cancer please visit the Cancer Council website and speak to your doctor.