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    Vaginal Dilators: How to Stretch a Small Vagina Safely

    Updated 25 November 2021 |
    Published 08 April 2020
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Marina Savchenko, MD, Pediatric Neurologist, Medical Consultant at Flo
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    If you’ve experienced painful sexual intercourse, your doctor might suggest treatment to enlarge, lengthen, or maintain soft vaginal tissues. When used correctly, vaginal dilators are highly effective at stretching a small vagina and improving your sex life.  

    What is a vaginal dilator?

    A vaginal dilator is an appliance designed to widen and lengthen the vagina, and it’s available in a variety of sizes and materials (e.g., plastic and silicone). Women of all ages, from adolescents to those undergoing menopause, may find vaginal dilation beneficial. By increasing the width and/or length of a small vagina, it’s possible to finally enjoy sexual intercourse without any pain or discomfort.   

    Who needs vaginal stretching?

    Generally speaking, vaginal dilators may help address the following issues:

    • Congenital disabilities, such as when the vagina doesn’t fully form in utero
    • Vaginal atrophy caused by menopause
    • A surgically-created or surgically-altered vagina
    • Scarred or damaged vaginal tissue resulting from injury, childbirth, or radiation

    Note that strands of collagen protein form a network of fibers to fill in damaged areas and the resulting tissue features a rougher, less flexible texture. Vaginal dilators could at least partly restore the original shape, pliability, and integrity of this tissue. 

    Additionally, vaginal dilators might assist in strengthening pelvic floor muscles and decreasing vulvar and vaginal hypersensitivity. Pelvic muscles provide support for the bladder, uterus, and colon in women. Exercises targeting this area are recommended after pregnancy and as females age in order to enhance strength, control, and flexibility. With routine usage, a vaginal dilator is not only successful at vaginal stretching, it’s great for relaxing and fully engaging pelvic muscles. They also tackle urinary stress incontinence (while sneezing, coughing, or laughing), heighten sexual arousal, and allow pain-free vaginal penetration.  

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    A step-by-step guide to vaginal dilators

    Preparing and inserting a vaginal dilator

    Always consult your doctor on the usage of a dilator and check the instructions for it. 

    When utilizing a vaginal dilator for the first time, start with the smallest size available. Many vaginal stretching kits come with assorted sizes to minimize discomfort. Next, find a comfortable place where you can prop yourself up in a semi-reclining position like a bed, sofa, or chair. Bend the hips and knees a bit so your legs are roughly shoulder-width apart. Then, prepare yourself for vaginal stretching by doing the following things:

    1. Apply a personal lubricant to the rounded end of the dilator. (Be sure to choose a water-based product that’s easy to wash off and avoid any petroleum-based lubes like Vaseline.)
    2. Consciously relax the pelvic floor muscles and engage in slow, deep breathing.
    3. Place the rounded end of the dilator at the vaginal opening and keep pelvic muscles relaxed.
    4. Apply gentle pressure and slowly insert the dilator into your vagina. It should be done in a straight or slightly downward direction (toward your spine) ‒ much like inserting a tampon.
    5. Gradually continue inserting the vaginal dilator for 10 to 15 seconds, until you notice muscle tension or slight discomfort. The dilator should feel snug, but if it seems especially painful, discontinue use immediately. If you do not observe any discomfort, however, you may need to switch to a larger size.
    6. Keep the vaginal dilator in place for a maximum of 10 minutes. (It’s best to start with just a few minutes, then gradually work your way up.)
    7. If you’re relying on a dilator to stretch vaginal tissue, focus on keeping the pelvic floor relaxed. If you’re relying on a dilator to boost pelvic floor strength, practice performing Kegel exercises.

    When the vaginal stretching session is complete, clean and store the dilator according to the manufacturer’s directions and repeat daily.

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    Changing dilator size

    Once you’re able to leave the dilator in place for a maximum of 10 minutes without any muscle tension or discomfort, you’re ready to size up! Once you’ve got the new vaginal dilator handy, insert the old dilator first for a minute or so to relax and prime the muscles. Repeat this entire process until you’ve reached the largest size in the kit.  

    What to do after vaginal stretching

    When using a vaginal dilator, it’s not uncommon to observe a small amount of blood during or after your vaginal stretching session. It’ll look like spotting at the beginning of your menstrual cycle, and you’ll want to wear a thin pad or panty liner after dilator therapy. 

    Should bleeding become heavy enough to saturate the pad or it lasts for more than a day, contact your doctor right away. Lastly, to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs), always properly clean and store your dilator, and pee after each vaginal stretching session. For further questions or concerns regarding vaginal dilators, talk to a health care professional.

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    Do plenty of research and try to seek proper care and guidance from a qualified medical professional.

    For individuals struggling with painful sexual intercourse or other unwanted symptoms, finding the right treatment option can be difficult. Most health care providers do not receive a great deal of training when it comes to the practical and emotional aspects of utilizing vaginal dilators.

    Unfortunately, this often results in inadequate information and a lack of patient support, preventing many women from enjoying the health benefits of vaginal stretching.

    History of updates

    Current version (25 November 2021)

    Reviewed by Marina Savchenko, MD, Pediatric Neurologist, Medical Consultant at Flo

    Published (08 April 2020)

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