What is a Dilator | Uses | Tips When Buying | Best Vaginal Dilators
Vaginal dilators, also known as vaginal trainers, are medically designed tools that help stretch, relax, and mobilize tight pelvic floor muscles and vaginal tissues. The purpose of vaginal dilators is to restore a tight, narrow, or dry vagina for smoother penetration, increased sexual pleasure, and relief from certain genital conditions.
Although it can be puzzling for first-timers to comprehend the differences between vaginal dilators in today’s market, there are some guidelines you can follow to determine which are the best. To help you decide, we’ve outlined the 3 best vaginal dilators according to a pelvic health physical therapist.
What is A Vaginal Dilator?
Vaginal dilators are tube-shaped medical devices, used to gently stretch vaginal tissues and mobilize tight vaginal muscles as well as the pelvic floor muscles. They are typically made from plastic or silicone and ideally sold in sets of progressively increasing sizes to gradually release vaginal tightness and increase expansion over time.
Why Women Use Vaginal Dilators
Women of all ages use vaginal dilators to relieve the sensation of vaginal tightness or painful penetration associated with the insertion of a penis, tampon, or gynecological instrument.
Vaginal dilators are also commonly recommended by pelvic health physical therapists to help treat fear of penetration (vaginismus), pain during intercourse (dyspareunia), and vaginal dryness (atrophy). Although frequently associated with menopause, vaginal dryness, pain during sex, and fear of penetration (due to painful sex) can happen to women at any age.
Female conditions like endometriosis, interstitial cystitis (IC), vaginal stenosis, and vulvodynia are also known to improve with the help of vaginal dilators.
Teenagers who are anxious about their first sexual experience can learn to relax tight vaginal muscles caused by the fear of penetration (vaginismus) by using vaginal dilators. Women who have suffered from sexual abuse or sexual trauma can work toward finding renewed self-assurance and sexual confidence by starting with the smallest vaginal dilator in the set and working slowly up to the larger sizes.
Those recovering from pelvic surgery, vaginal surgery, reassignment surgery, and cervical cancer, as well as the radiation treatment that often follows, benefit from vaginal dilator therapy to prevent or reduce scar tissue from forming. In these cases, vaginal dilators can also help patients to rebuild their vaginal confidence and improve natural lubrication before re-engaging in sexual activities.
Tips When Buying Vaginal Dilators
Just like most other consumer products, when it comes to vaginal dilators there are plenty of brands and varieties to choose from and it can be tough for first-timers to comprehend the differences. That said, some important guidelines can help make the selection process easier.
Keep the following tips in mind when choosing vaginal dilators:
1. Size Matters When it Comes to Dilators
Bearing in mind that vaginal dilators are designed to gradually stretch the intimate muscles and relieve vaginal tightness over time, the size you begin with is hugely significant and an assortment of sizes is undoubtedly required. Some dilator kits, for instance, include just one dilator, while others consist of a range of dilators that progressively ascend in size.
Even though it might seem more economical to purchase a dilator kit with just one dilator, the majority of physical therapy patients see far more improvement by using a set of vaginal dilators with gradually increasing sizes.
Essentially, the one-size-fits-all approach to dilation therapy does not allow for a slow and steady stretch of the muscles. It could also turn out to be a waste of money if the dilator is too big for you to begin with, especially if you are seeking to relieve painful penetration.
On the other hand, a set of dilators ranging in size from a pinkie finger to a fully erect penis allows patients to start with the smallest size and move to the next size once it feels comfortable to insert and hold the smaller dilator in place for 10-15 minutes per day.
Practicing dilator therapy in this way better allows the tissues and musculature of the vagina and pelvic floor to slowly regain their elasticity and not only improve penetration but increase sexual pleasure too.
2. It’s Important to Like How Your Dilator Feels
These days, vaginal dilators are made from either plastic or silicone and there are several differences between the two that might influence you to choose one over the other.
Plastic dilators are described by users as feeling rigid and stiff in the vagina, whereas silicone dilators are described as feeling smooth, bendy, and more life-like. The more natural feel of silicone dilators generally means women find them more comfortable to use and therefore obtain better results.
Concerning the ingredients used to produce dilators, those made from medical-grade silicone are considered a more body-safe option. And given that the vagina is an extremely sensitive part of the body what you put in there should always be safe. Many plastic dilators, on the other hand, are still made with phthalates and BPA, both of which are harmful to the body.
Lastly, women report that the weight of silicone dilators feels more natural in the vagina than plastic dilators. This is important when it comes to proprioceptive feedback i.e. although your body feels the presence of a dilator, it can relax due to the natural weight and life-like feel of the silicone. This type of relaxation and release of muscle tension is one of the most vital features of vaginal dilator therapy.
3. How Easy Is the Dilator to Use?
The main purpose of dilators is to relax the vaginal tissues and muscles to allow for easier penetration and more enjoyable sex. But if you are not relaxed everywhere else in your body, it will be difficult for your vaginal muscles to relax. Using dilators that have a handle that must be gripped to keep them in place can have this effect on some women. Other women feel that the handle just gets in the way.
Instead of purchasing dilators that require you to hold them in place with your hand tensed around a handle, many women choose silicone dilators that have a small lip at the end. This lip is designed to let you know that the dilator is fully inserted, then all you have to do is relax and let the dilator do its work.
4. Make Sure the Price Is Right
Even though plastic dilators are normally cheaper than silicone dilators, cheap is not something you want to consider when it comes to your vaginal health. If money is tight, take the above-mentioned factors into account and consider saving your money for a set of silicone dilators instead of plastic dilators. Some companies sell the silicone dilators in their sets separately too, so those on a budget can purchase each dilator size as they are needed.
3 Best Vaginal Dilators According to a Physical Therapist
The 3 best vaginal dilators according to pelvic floor physical therapist, Amanda Olson, are chosen based on the most important factors to consider when choosing a dilator – size, feel, ease of use, and price.
#3 - BioMoi Vaginal Dilators
BioMoi Vaginal Dilators are made from medical-grade silicone and available in sets of 6 progressive sizes, a 4-pack starter pack, and the option to buy separate dilators for those on a budget. These dilators feel soft and smooth to the touch, sit comfortably in the vagina, and also incorporate antimicrobial properties.
The 6 sizes in the dilator kit range from 3.3 inches long and 0.68 inches in diameter to 5.77 inches long and 1.43 inches in diameter. Significantly, these sizes are smaller in range compared with the other two dilator sets mentioned below.
For many women, the variance of size in a set of dilators can make all the difference when it comes to comfortably starting dilator therapy as well as how eager patients will be to continue.
For easy use, BioMoi dilators do not require a handle to be kept in place and instead come with an in-build lip to let users know the dilator is fully inserted. However, there is no option to buy an attachable handle if you prefer something to hold.
Price-wise, BioMoi dilators are the most expensive on the list with a set of 6 dilators priced at $179.99 and individual dilators ranging from $34.99 to $59.95.
#2 - Soul Source Silicone Dilators
Also made from body-safe medical-grade silicone, Soul Source dilators are available in sets of 8 ascending sizes with an option to purchase a 4-piece starter pack or individual dilators when needed. Soul Source silicone dilators are soft and comfortable in the vagina, although the finish is somewhat sticky to the touch and the dilators can feel a “little rubbery” if enough lubrication is not applied.
These dilators come with an in-built lip to alert users that they are fully inserted, do not require a handle to be held in place, and are easy to use.
When it comes to size, Soul Source dilators begin at 2.5 inches long and 0.5 inches in diameter to 6 inches long and 1.625 inches in diameter. Price-wise, however, Soul Source comes out more expensive than the top dilator on this list, with a set of 8 dilators priced at $209.99 and separately bought dilators priced between $17.99 and $54.99.
#1 - Intimate Rose Silicone Dilators
It’s not only pelvic floor physical therapists that believe Intimate Rose Dilators are the best on the market, customers and the competition agree too. In addition, they are used in training courses through the American Physical Therapy Association Academy of Pelvic Health.
Made from body-safe medical-grade silicone that customers describe as feeling ‘velvety soft’ and natural, Intimate Rose dilators are widely considered the most comfortable vaginal dilators on the market. For easy use, they also come with an in-built lip that indicates the dilator is fully inserted and while no handle is necessary to hold it in place, Intimate Rose sells an attachable handle for those who prefer one.
Size-wise, Intimate Rose dilators range from 2.8 inches long and 0.45 inches in diameter to 6.5 inches long and 1.5 inches in diameter to allow for gentle stretching and progressive expansion. Client feedback also indicates that Intimate Rose dilators feel less sticky than the other two on the list when lubrication is applied, and are incredibly easy to clean with warm water and unscented soap.
Dilator sets include 8 progressive sizes with the option of purchasing the first 4 sizes as a starter pack, or each dilator separately as needed. And when it comes to price, Intimate Rose Dilators come out on top, priced at just $179.99 for a full set of 8, and sold separately at $16.99 for the smallest dilator and $44.99 for the largest.
By gently stretching and relaxing tight vaginal tissues and pelvic floor muscles, vaginal dilators help to minimize pain during penetration, improve sexual pleasure, and treat a variety of vaginal conditions. Sold separately or in sets of ascending sizes, and made from different materials, choosing the best vaginal dilators can be confusing.
Read our guidelines on choosing the best vaginal dilators above, and learn more about the 3 best vaginal dilators on the market today, according to a physical therapist specializing in female pelvic health.
Very Well Health – Vaginal Dilators: What You Need to Know - https://www.verywellhealth.com/vaginal-dilators-5220401
Intimate Rose – Vaginal Dilators; Frequently Asked Questions - https://www.intimaterose.com/pages/frequently-asked-questions-vaginal-dilators
My Health Alberta – Female Sexuality & Cancer – Vaginal Dilators After Radiation Therapy - https://myhealth.alberta.ca/cancer-and-sexuality/female-sexuality-and-cancer/vaginal-tightness/vaginal-dilators
My Cleveland Clinic – Vaginismus - https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15723-vaginismus
Mayo Clinic – Dysapeurnia - https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/painful-intercourse/symptoms-causes/syc-20375967
The North American Menopause Society – Pain with Penetration - https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/sexual-problems-at-midlife/pain-with-penetration
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten.