If you’ve ever felt pain or discomfort during sex, or when using penetrative sex toys, please know that you’re not alone! Many vagina-owning people have experienced less than comfortable penetration at some point. First off, it’s very important to listen to your body, and in the case of painful sex (medically known as dyspareunia), to find out why it’s happening. Treating any potential conditions should be your or your partner’s first priority when looking into the cause of sexual discomfort, so talking to your doctor or gynecologist is step one.
Once you’ve eliminated any medical reasons for painful sex, there are some great tools available to help you overcome uncomfortable sex, when you’re ready. Most of these help relax, strengthen and recondition the pelvic floor, like kegel weights, pelvic floor exercisers, and the topic of today’s article: vaginal dilators.
We’ll tell you all about these very effective sexual tools, but first, let’s take a look at some of the possible causes of dyspareunia. Again, please talk to a doctor or gyno if you’re experiencing pain or discomfort during sex. It’s important to rule out more serious issues before moving on to therapy with vaginal dilators or otherwise.
What to Do if Sex is Painful for You
Like we’ve already mentioned, the first thing you’ll need to do is speak to your doctor, pronto. There are many possible reasons for painful sex, so be sure to note where, specifically, you’re experiencing pain. Is it localized to your vulva, or is it deeper inside your vagina? Maybe you’re feeling pain higher up in your pelvis. Either way, it’s so important to talk honestly with your doctor or gynecologist about any painful sex symptoms. Many of the causes are very treatable!
If you’re feeling an uncomfortable tightness, it could be vaginismus. This common condition causes the muscles surrounding the entrance to the vagina to tense up uncontrollably, which can make penetration either impossible or painful.
Dips in estrogen levels is a common cause of painful sex, too. Birth control, hormone treatments, breastfeeding and certain medications can cause the vaginal walls to be thin, lose moisture, and/or become inflamed. Menopause is a notorious cause, as well.
Pelvic inflammatory disease can cause a deeper-felt pain up toward your abdomen. As the name suggests, this painful sex culprit causes inflammation of the upper genital tract - uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Certain STI’s like chlamydia can cause painful sex, too, so again, seeing a doctor should be your number one priority! In most cases, there are treatments available, from surgery and medication to pelvic floor therapy.
Speaking of pelvic floor therapy, that’s where vaginal dilators come in. If you’ve eliminated any treatable medical reasons for your vaginal or pelvic floor pain, and have the go-ahead from your doctor or gynecologist, vaginal dilators can help you become more comfortable with penetration on your own terms.
Vaginal Dilator Basics
In the simplest of terms, vaginal dilators are penetrative tools that help gently and gradually stretch, relax and/or widen the opening and inner walls of the vagina. They’re sometimes known as ‘vaginal trainers’.
Proper use can help improve the strength of your pelvic floor muscles, or help you learn how to relax those muscles. As with any sexual tool, learning how to use a dilator properly is the key to a great experience. Follow along as we uncover everything you need to know about vaginal dilators and how they can help ease or eliminate painful sex.
What Does a Vaginal Dilator Look Like?
Dilators are available in many sizes and weights, but shape-wise, most are straight, smooth and tapered, with a rounded tip. Many are made of silicone, and some are made of glass or even stainless steel. Vaginal dilators vary greatly in size, from very small to much larger, and can be long or short, thin or thick.
Most dilators come in sets of several sizes (around 5 to 8 sizes per set). The idea is to start small and work your way up as you feel ready and comfortable. Generally speaking, you’ll start with the smallest dilator and slowly progress to the largest.
What are the Benefits of Vaginal Dilators?
Using a vaginal dilator or dilator set can help make sex and penetration in general more comfortable and enjoyable. They can also improve your pelvic floor health in other ways, which can help alleviate the symptoms of, or even treat certain health conditions. Again, please speak to a doctor or gynecologist before trying to self-treat painful or uncomfortable sex.
How do I Use a Vaginal Dilator?
The goal with most vaginal dilators and dilator sets is to gradually become more comfortable with the sensation of penetration. As long as you’re comfortable, you can use your dilator up to four times a week. Before you even think about inserting a vaginal dilator, though, there are a few things you should do.
- Find a stress-free location, and have everything you need to make your experience comfortable close at hand.
- Choose a great quality lubricant. Lube is a must for comfortable penetration of any sex toy or tool. A good water based lubricant will be your best bet, since it’ll be compatible with any dilator material.
- Visit the bathroom beforehand. Your goal is to relax your pelvic floor, and having an empty bladder can help.
- Take the time to fully relax before you begin. Take some deep breaths and try to release any tension in your body.
When you’re all set up and ready:
1. Start with the smallest dilator from your set. Use a generous amount of water-based lube to help.
2. Lay on your back with your knees gently bent and feet flat. Vaginal dilators are best inserted slowly, and with gentle pressure. If you feel any resistance or discomfort, stop. Take a few deep breaths, focusing on relaxing your vagina, before you begin again. If you don’t feel any pain or discomfort, you can try moving up to the next size.
3. You can try using Kegel exercises (flexing your pelvic floor) to help relax your vaginal muscles and allow your dilator to proceed further..
4. Clean your dilators after use. Use a good sex toy cleanser or some warm sudsy water.
Enjoy Sex with PinkCherry!
Vaginal dilators come in many sizes and materials, so take the time to find the best fit for your needs. PinkCherry.ca is a great place to start, as we have a wide variety of dilators to choose from. Our Dr. Laura Berman vaginal dilators line,from world-renowned sex and relationship expert, features great starter dilators that are extra user-friendly. You can also use our search bar to find more options.