What types of vaginal dilators are best for treating vaginismus and similar conditions?
Several factors help determine the effectiveness of dilators in treating vaginismus.
When choosing a vaginal dilator set to treat vaginismus, women are often perplexed about what requirements are necessary. The dilator sets that are available through this website have been carefully designed for maximum effectiveness in treating vaginismus and other similar vaginal conditions (see your physician for individualized recommendations). Among the most important factors in determining effectiveness are:
- An appropriate size range - Dilators that are too big, too small, have large gaps between sizes that make transition difficult, or just do not have enough of a size range, can make vaginismus treatment unnecessarily difficult. Ideally, dilator sets should include dilators beginning with a diameter no larger than 3/4"[19mm], and range upwards gradually to the size of a man's fully erect penis, about 1-3/8"[35mm] diameter. The length should be a minimum of 3"[76mm] to be long enough to penetrate past the pubococcygeus (PC) muscle bands surrounding the vagina. A set ideally will range in length up to at least 6"[152mm] to approximate the length of an erect penis or to provide therapeutic value to the deeper vaginal wall tissues where other conditions are being addressed. Women that try to transition directly to full size vaginal dilators (or sometimes vibrators or dildos), usually experience great frustration, especially when a robust program is not followed that teaches about pelvic muscle control.
- The dilator shape - A naturally sloping tip is really helpful for comfortable insertion. Also, a slightly tapered barrel helps women to have an easier transition from one size to the next.
- The surface texture - A very smooth texture makes it much easier to smoothly insert dilators without any sticking or grabbing. A design with no seams, edgelines or burrs, also helps ensure that there will be no internal vaginal abrasion.
- Handles - Dilator handles assist women to have greater fine control over the insertion process (for example easier control over the angle and exact depth) and also helps with hygiene, keeping the hands away from the insertion tip and keeping lubricant off of the hands.
Please note that without an effective program, dilators have limited value in helping with vaginismus. The proper use of vaginal dilators is essential for successful treatment outcomes. When accompanied with a full program to complete the other necessary steps to treatment success, dilators are a helpful tool in retraining the body. Effectively used, they help with treatment exercises designed to eliminate vaginal penetration difficulties and to make a more seamless transition to pain-free intercourse.
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"I can recommend use of this resource by all patients with vaginismus"
- APTA Journal of Women's Health Physical Therapy
- Beth Shelly, PT, BCIA-PMDB
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