The What, Why and How of Vaginal Dilators

Written by Chelle, Lovehoney Editorial team.

Last updated 14/12/2021

When we think about sexual health, we often associate the term with the prevention of sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies, but we lesser consider vaginal sexual health as a sole entity, and how certain conditions, common surgeries and gender transition can impact our ability to enjoy a fulfilling and happy sex life.

The Lovehoney Health range has been specifically developed to help support the management of certain health conditions which might impact your ability to enjoy sex. It includes a 5 piece Silicone Dilator Set which is pictured below and, through regular practice, can allow you to take control of your own sexual happiness.

But first – why might you need this set, and how do you use it?

Vaginal Dilators – What Are They?

Vaginal Dilator Set from Lovehoney

A vaginal dilator is a tube-shaped product that can be used to stretch the vagina, improve elasticity and retrain, expand or relax the pelvic floor muscles. For decades, vaginal dilators have been used to support people in keeping their vaginal tissues elasticated and healthy, as a key element of pelvic muscle restoration and even with the aim to reduce the physical symptoms of sex-induced anxieties.

Sometimes referred to as ‘vaginal trainers’, dilators have helped many to enjoy more fulfilling and comfortable penetration.

Most vaginal dilators come in multi-piece sets, with different sized dilators which allow the user to work up to bigger insertions over time, at a pace that suits them personally. They differ from the ‘standard’ insertable sex product and will often have a finger loop or handle at the base which makes it easier to hold the dilator whilst in use.

Some dilators are made from rigid ‘hardened’ plastic and others may be slightly more pliable or coated in silicone. The Lovehoney Health Dilator Set is entirely covered in PU-coated silicone which may make insertions feel smoother and more comfortable.

Why Use a Vaginal Dilator?

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There are many reasons why someone may choose to use vaginal dilators.

Long-Term Health Conditions

Endometriosis, vulvodynia, lichen sclerosus and interstitial cystitis are just a handful of potential sexual health conditions that may trigger discomfort during penetration and sexual intercourse. For people who experience difficulties due to longer-term conditions, using vaginal dilators as intended, may help to relieve the physical onset of symptoms.

Surgical Conditions

Vaginal dilators can also help people who may be experiencing discomfort due to recovery and body changes as a result of surgical procedures. People who have undergone common surgeries such hysterectomies, vaginoplasties, ablations, trachelectomies, or gender reassignment and confirmation surgeries may also experience painful penetration.

In these instances, vaginal dilators can support by gently relaxing the muscles and tissues inside the vulva and gradually expanding and stretching the vaginal canal to allow for more comfortable sexual intercourse.

Natural Body Changes

Some people choose to experiment with vaginal dilators because the onset of menopause has changed their body’s natural response to penetrative sex, or even due to phsyical challenges post-childbirth. Where tearing has occurred, or stitching required, people may experience pain and discomfort for quite some time.

Anxieties, Fear and Auto-Response

Others may choose to invest in a dilator kit because they have mental anxieties around penetration that trigger an automatic physical response. This may be due to a fear of gynaecological examinations, medical reviews or even more common insertions - such as the use of tampons. This is often referred to as vaginismus.

Step-by-Step Guide to Using the Lovehoney Health Silicone Dilator Set

How to use a vaginal dilator

1/ Before use, wash your dilator and your hands with mild, fragrance-free soap and warm water.

Set aside some time so that you can relax. Find a quiet place or spot where you feel comfortable and remember to take your time. Good things come to those who wait, so try not to rush yourself through the process

Find a comfortable position, with your knees bent and your legs apart, so that you can reach your vagina easily. You may find that it helps to use a mirror.

2/ You may want to start with just your finger and then move on to the dilator with the smallest diameter. Apply a generous coat of water-based lubricant to the length of the dilator, and to the entrance of your vagina.

3/ Taking deep breaths, try to relax your pelvic floor muscles. When you feel relaxed and comfortable, rest the tip of the dilator against the entrance to your vagina, and slowly insert it. If you feel discomfort, pause and take a few deep breaths to help relax your pelvic muscles. Masturbating before insertion may help you to relax.

Continue to insert the dilator, using the finger loop to guide it inside as deep as is comfortable for you. Remember, you don’t need to insert it all the way. You should not experience pain during the process – if you do, stop immediately.

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4/ Once your chosen dilator is inserted, you can leave it in place for 5 to 10 minutes. You should be able to increase the length of time with practice. Alternatively, you can use the finger loop to move the dilator inside you. Both methods may help your body become more accustomed to penetration.

When you feel ready, you can try the next size up. Continue like this until you are comfortable with the largest size.

5/ Before progressing to the next size up, you should feel comfortable with your current dilator being inserted for 10 minutes. It may take days or even weeks to comfortably progress to the next size. This is completely normal.

6/ Clean after use with mild, fragrance-free soap and warm water, then leave to air dry and store in the provided bag until next time.

For best results, use your dilator set little and often. We recommend using for 5 minutes initially, building up to 10 minutes, once or twice a day within the realms of what feels right for you personally. You should aim to progress slowly, making sure that using your dilator set is pain-free and comfortable.

Would you like more information on sexual health and our new Lovehoney Health range? Find out more here.

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