Beginners Guide: How to Use Vaginal Dilators

Beginners Guide: How to Use Vaginal Dilators



Have you ever experienced vaginal pain? Do you struggle with vaginal intercourse or tampon use? Were you diagnosed with vaginismus, vulvodynia, or another condition that causes difficult and/or painful intercourse? Are you maybe just a bit nervous about attempting penetration (whether with a partner or with a dildo)? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you might consider vaginal dilators. While they may not be the most fun and exciting option you’ll find when shopping for adult sex toys, for folks with vaginal pain, they can be life changing. 

Today we’re spending some time talking about the unsung heroes of the pelvic health and pleasure world, vaginal dilators! Read on to learn what they are, the different types that exist, how to choose them, and how to use them.


What is a vaginal dilator?

A vaginal dilator is a penetrative device used to gently and gradually stretch the vagina. They’re typically smooth, like a very basic dildo, and usually include a handle or base for easy use. Additionally, they come in multiple sizes ranging from small and slim– like a pinky finger– to thick and long sizes more akin to a small banana. 


What are the different types of vaginal dilators?

Vaginal dilators or vaginal trainers can be made with a variety of materials, including medical-grade silicone, hard plastic, and even glass. Most dilators are sold in sets like the Inspire Silicone Dilator Kit.  These contain multiple sizes, which allows users to start with the size that is most comfortable and slowly work their way up through the sizes over time. 

The starting point for vaginal dilator use is a highly personal thing and can vary wildly between users. For this reason, dilator kits come in different sizes as well. Some feature 3 dilators while others contain 3 different sizes while others contain up to 5. Plus, the sizes can vary from kit to kit. For example, the questionably named Ouch! Silicone Vaginal Dilator Set comes with a whopping five different slim sizes, the smallest being similar in girth to a pencil. 


How to choose vaginal dilators?

When shopping for vaginal trainers or dilators, there are some things you want to think about to help you zero in on the right ones for you:

What should they be made of?

We mentioned earlier that vaginal dilators could be made from a couple of different materials and there are pros and cons to each. Silicone dilators tend to be softer and more flexible than ones made with hard materials like plastic or glass. This means they can be more comfortable to use than harder dilators, but it also means that for some folks, they may not deliver the amount of pressure they want/need. 

In the meantime, plastic or glass dilators may be a bit less comfy than silicone ones, but they seriously deliver when it comes to the stretching many folks use dilators to achieve. Additionally, they can be chilled to deliver a cooling sensation that can be very soothing for folks with pelvic pain.  

What is your budget?

There are vaginal dilators available in a whole range of price points. Plastic sets will typically be less expensive than silicone or glass. Sets with 5 pieces might cost more than sets with 3. And some companies even sell their dilators individually, allowing you to purchase only the sizes you want. Know that, whatever your budget, you will probably be able to find a dilator option to fit it. 

What sizes do you want/need? 

As we have already discussed, there are tons of dilator size options. The sizes you need will depend on your body/level of discomfort. Be aware that not only do the available sizes in dilator kits vary, the increments by which the sizes increase can also vary, with some kits featuring large jumps in size from one piece to the next. If you are experiencing discomfort, it might be a good idea to stick to sets with more pieces and smaller increases in size between each dilator. Using dilators is a marathon, not a sprint, so don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of slowly working your way through multiple sizes. Your comfort is what matters most. 

What kind of base do you want?

The bases (the part that remains outside the body) can vary on dilators. Some include flat bases. For example, the She-Ology 5 Piece Wearable Vaginal Dilator Set features large flat circular bases that keep the dilators comfortably in place. Other dilators feature handles which can make them a bit more user-friendly, especially for folks who have limited reach or grip strength. This can be nice as it cuts down on the amount of reaching necessary to use the dilators, which can, in turn, help you stay relaxed during use.


How to use vaginal dilators?

No matter what has led you to try vaginal dilator therapy, you want to make sure you get the most out of it. With that in mind, here are some steps you can follow for safe, comfortable, and effective dilator use:

  1. Get relaxed. I know it is easier said than done. That’s why I am going to go with one of my favorite pieces of advice; take a hot bath. This can help you relax mentally as well as physically. 
  2. Make yourself comfortable. Lay on your bed with your knees bent, and your legs opened into a diamond shape. Use pillows to support your legs as well as your head. Try to let go of the muscle tension. Relax your limbs, your neck, and your pelvic floor muscles.  
  3. Start with the smallest dilator in your set. You might find it too small, but that is preferable to inserting something too big and causing yourself discomfort. If you find you want something bigger, you can always switch dilators. Begin with the largest dilator you feel comfortable inserting (better to start too small, however, than vice versa, so err on the side of caution). Apply a water-based lubricant or some coconut oil to the dilator and to your vaginal opening.
  4. Prepare for dilator insertion. Apply lubricant (I recommend a thick water-based formula) to the dilator as well as your vaginal opening. Don’t be shy about it. Lube will help keep everything as comfortable as possible. So, be sure to check the best lubes for vaginal penetration available.
  5. Insert the dilator. Take a deep breath in, and then, as you exhale, slowly and gently slide the dilator into your vaginal canal, stopping if you feel tension or discomfort. This is a process, so don’t push yourself to keep going if it’s uncomfortable, and definitely stop if you feel any type of pelvic pain. Take a moment to contract and release the kegel muscles which might allow you to comfortably slide the dilator further in the vaginal canal. You might not be able to insert it right completely, which is absolutely fine. If you find that, over time, it is not getting easier or more comfortable, talk to your doctor.
  6. Add some movement. Depending on your needs, you can try moving the dilator in and out or around in wide circles. You might want to experiment with applying pressure, depending on your physical needs and/or a medical professional’s instructions. 
  7. Remove the dilator. When you feel ready, gently slide the dilator out.


Once you are done, take some time to clean your dilators and put them away properly. Remember that vaginal dilator therapy is a process, and it might take a while. You can use your dilator three to four times a week but never two days in a row. Also, try doing kegel exercises when you are not using a dilator. Don’t get discouraged. If you put in the time, vaginal dilators can help you stay comfortable during intercourse, when using tampons, and even at the gynecologist’s office. 

So there you have it, folks. That’s the story on vaginal dilators. If you think vaginal dilator therapy might be right for you, PinkCherry has you covered. Take a look at their selection of dilator kits and lube!

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