What is a dilator?

If you’re like many of my patients, your pelvic floor may be a new territory.   

The pelvic floor serves key functions, but until it acts up, you may not pay too close attention. That is why I’m committed to educating and making you aware of symptoms we don’t normally talk about. 

On the table today is a topic I always get colorful responses/questions about: DILATORS!

In this post I’ll review what they are, what they treat, and what you should do if you think you would benefit from their use.

What is a dilator?

A dilator is a medical device that is inserted into the vaginal opening used to help ease pain associated with penetration. A dilator helps relax or strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, and make tissues more flexible to accommodate and enjoy intercourse. Think pelvic muscle rehabilitation!

A few main functions of a dilator:

  • Help relax & stretch hypertonic (tense) pelvic floor muscles
  • Massage “trigger points” (knots) that develop in the pelvic floor muscles
  • Increase circulation 
  • Helps to teach the pelvic floor that touch is safe


A little more about them…

Dilators are roughly 4 inches long, cylinder-like with a rounded end, and come in plastic or silicone. They can vibrate, which helps circulation and relaxation. Some are made with handles for ease with use in therapy, and are made in a variety of colors and sizes. These tools commonly help women with pain during intercourse that stems from other causes.


What causes sexual pain, and the need for a dilator?

Pain with intercourse and penetration can be tied to a wide range of issues such as sexual trauma, stress, menopause, and painful periods. 

7 conditions that a dilator can benefit:

  • Vestibulodynia: chronic pain and discomfort that occurs in the area around the opening of the vagina, inside the inner lips of the vulva

  • Vaginismus: automatic vaginal muscle tightening with penetration

  • Vulvodynia: chronic pain in the vulva, such as when attempting intercourse or even while sitting

  • Constipation

  • Perineal scar Tissue or Episiotomy 

  • History of painful periods

  • Menopause

If you suffer from pain with penetration such as muscle tightening or anxiety at the thought of intercourse, or any of the symptoms above, please see a pelvic floor specialist before starting to treat your symptoms with a dilator. They will be able to confirm diagnosis & whether or not dilator work is safe & beneficial for YOU!

Want more?! Did you know Thrive Pelvic Health has a comprehensive guide to Dilators? Fill out the form below and we will give you access to our guide!

I help women and children live their life to the fullest, without worrying about pelvic floor pain, peeing while sneezing, or difficulty pooping. When not at the office, I like to play board games with my kids, binge-watch Netflix with hubby, and travel outside of the AZ heat.

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Vaginal or urinary infection and problems concept. Young woman holds paper with HELP above crotch

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