Diagnosed with vulvodynia or vaginismus? Did your pelvic health physical therapist recommended using vaginal dilators to decrease vulvar pain? Did your doctor recommend dilators to help with vaginismus? If so, where do you start?
My friend and colleague Tracy Sher has compiled loads of helpful information for you! She discusses indications for using dilators, how to select the right dilator. She discusses indications for using dilators, how to select the right dilator (there are different materials available), and the “three effects” of using dilators.
Desensitization or neural system effect
Recent pain science has demonstrated that working with the nervous system is very effective in healing persistent pain. This can be extrapolated into dilator use, and as clinicians we have seen this approach to be quite effective.
We can train the brain to not perceive the painful area as “dangerous” by nourishing the parasympathetic nervous system and introducing non-painful stimulus to the area.
These are the same concepts I wrote about in my blog “Yoga for Pudendal Neuralgia.”
A more traditional use for dilators is for stretching the vaginal opening and canal.
We use the dilator to apply consistent pressure to the pelvic floor muscles to cue them to lengthen.
Some people will use leg movements as well as different positions to access the full scope of pelvic floor function.
Some patients use dilators to decrease pelvic pain.
Other will use dilators in preparation for using a tampon or other objects used for sexual pleasure.
You can read Tracy’s tips about how to select dilators and dilator progression.
Exploring mindfulness with dilator use
I have found that patients have the best results with dilators when they take a mindful approach, especially if they are experience discomfort.
We can use the breath consciously with the dilator to assist our pelvic floor to lengthen.
Imagine that as you inhale, your belly expands (but doesn’t push out) and your pelvic floor lengthens towards your feet. Call in softness at the hips, buttocks, jaw, and wherever else you can discover unconscious holding patterns.
I believe in the power of mindfulness with dilators so much that I have created a mindfulness meditation for dilator use.
Please share this freely with anyone who you think might benefit from it. It is also a helpful meditation in preparation for a gyn visit.