Use Vaginal Dilators

Vaginal dilators are tools of graduated widths used to develop or restore the vaginal opening. Women find dilators, used with sexual lubricants, can also keep their vaginal tissues elastic and comfortable.

Typically dilators are provided as a set, along with instructions for exercises to gradually, gently, and comfortably stretch the vaginal opening and the vaginal depth to comfortably accept sexual penetration.

There are many conditions and reasons that call for the use of vaginal dilators: vaginal atrophy, post-radiation adhesions, and vaginismus. But we may also use dilators simply to maintain our vaginal tissues. Older vaginas remain strong and comfortable only with use, and dilators are a great tool for keeping vaginal tissues elastic, comfortable, and ready for sex.

How To 

Vaginal dilation exercises can be self-administered for many conditions, but for conditions like vaginismus, may be best used under the care and supervision of a gynecologist or physical therapist.


Dilator exercises are typically done once or twice per day in 20- or 30-minute sessions, and after a hot bath. Lie on your back with your legs bent and use a lubricant on the smallest dilator. With all of your pelvic muscles relaxed, apply even pressure to slowly insert the dilator into your vagina. When it is as deep as you can comfortably push it, hold it in place for 10 to 15 minutes.

When you can comfortably insert a dilator all the way into your vagina, you are ready to graduate to the next dilator size.

Once you can comfortably insert a larger dilator, you may wish to add Kegel exercises with your dilator in place as a maintenance exercise. Use your dilator three to four times per week to maintain your vagina.

Vaginal dilation takes patience. It can take three months or longer for your vagina to expand enough for vaginal intercourse. Frequent, short sessions will give you the best results.

First published 03/05/2010 Last updated 07/26/2013

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