Understanding Dilators: Types, Pros, Cons, and Usage

Dilators are medical devices that help stretch and lengthen body parts such as the vagina or the anus. They are often used to treat conditions like vaginismus, vulvodynia, dyspareunia or after certain surgeries or cancer treatments, to help in recovery. They can also aid in sex therapy and help individuals transition in gender-affirming procedures. This article will explore the different types of dilators, their pros and cons, and how to use each one.


Vaginal Dilators

Pros: Vaginal dilators can be effective in treating conditions like dyspareunia, vaginismus or vulvodynia that cause pain or tightness in the vagina. They can also help prepare the vagina for intercourse or medical examinations, and aid in recovery after gynecological surgeries.

Cons: Vaginal dilators can initially cause discomfort or anxiety, especially in those with medical conditions causing vaginal pain. Overuse or incorrect use can also lead to irritation or injury.

Usage: Start with the smallest size and gradually increase as your comfort level improves. Apply a water-based lubricant to the dilator and gently insert it into the vagina. Relax your muscles and leave it in place for a few minutes, or gently move it in and out, mimicking the motion of sexual intercourse.


Anal Dilators

Pros: Anal dilators can be used to treat conditions like anal fissures or hemorrhoids, aid in preparation for anal sex, and help in recovery after rectal surgeries.

Cons: If not used correctly or without sufficient lubrication, anal dilators can cause pain, discomfort, or even injury. They should be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional to ensure safe and effective use.

Usage: As with vaginal dilators, start with the smallest size and gradually increase as your comfort level allows. Apply a generous amount of water-based lubricant to the dilator and carefully insert it into the anus. Allow your muscles to relax around the dilator and leave it in place for a few minutes. 

Gender-Affirming Dilators

Pros: For individuals who have undergone gender-affirming surgery, dilators are essential to maintain the new vaginal depth and width. They can help prevent the newly formed vagina from closing up and allow for comfortable sexual intercourse.

Cons: The need for regular dilation can be time-consuming and may cause discomfort. Some individuals may also experience emotional distress or dysphoria during dilation.

Usage: The frequency and duration of dilation will vary based on the medical provider’s recommendations, but it typically involves daily use initially, tapering off over time. As with other dilators, use a water-based lubricant and insert the dilator gently into the vagina.


Silicone vs. Plastic Dilators

Silicone Dilators: These are softer and more flexible, making them more comfortable for many people. They typically last longer, due to the material; however, they tend to be more expensive. They also can transmit vibration very well, so you can add low-level vibration by touching a vibrator to the dilator – in the hopes of helping to further relax the muscles. The Elevated Pelvic dilators are amazing silicone dilators because the tapered, rounded ends are perfect for relieving pelvic pain, while the extra-large handles make it easier for gripping.

 Plastic Dilators: These are typically less expensive and easy to clean, but they may be less comfortable due to their rigidity. Some clinicians believe that they are more effective as dilators because the firmness allows the muscles to truly relax against them. They also can be used with any lubricant. The Vuva dilators are a perfect example of the plastic dilators, and they come in a set with 7 different sizes, helping you to get the slow stretch as needed. Additionally, you can get them with or without the Neodymium magnets.

 Remember, when using any type of dilator, it's essential to be patient, go slowly, and relax as much as possible. If you experience any severe discomfort or pain, stop using the dilator and consult with a healthcare professional.


Key Takeaways:

Dilators are medical devices used to stretch and lengthen body parts like the vagina or anus.

Vaginal dilators, anal dilators, and gender-affirming dilators each have their own unique pros, cons, and usage techniques.

Silicone dilators tend to be more comfortable due to their flexibility, while plastic dilators are often less expensive but important for stretching muscles post cancer treatments or in cases of pelvic pain.

Dilators should be used with care and patience.


At Pelvic Tech, we have a wide variety of dilators to meet your needs. Also, feel free to contact our clinical team to learn about which ones could possibly work best for you!

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