Dilation How-To guide

Dilation is the use of dilators - a special type of dildo designed for medical purposes - to progressively widen and lengthen the vagina over time.

Dilation is useful for people with vaginismus, people who have had their vagina surgically constructed, or anyone whose vagina is too small for penetration.

Dilators are usually purchased in sets, where each dilator in the set is larger than the last. You start by inserting the smallest one, and when that’s comfortable you move on to the next largest, and so on. Over time, you work up to being able to comfortably insert the largest dilator in the set.

To be effective, you need to dilate regularly, ideally on a daily basis. Furthermore, you can’t expect your problems to magically go away once you’ve worked up to the largest dilator - you will probably need regular penetration with something of that size to maintain the openness of your vagina.

Finding the time to dilate regularly can be a challenge with a busy schedule. I find that before bed is the easiest time for me. Because you will be spending quite a lot of time doing nothing during a dilation session, it’s good to dilate while watching a movie, reading or listening to music.

Being relaxed and in a good frame of mind is important. Dilating can be a relaxing self-care routine, but it will be hard to achieve the results you want if you try to do it with a bad headache or stomach cramps or when you’re stressed, since any kind of tension or discomfort can cause the vaginal muscles to tighten.

Here are my suggestions for a relaxing dilation session:

  • Choose the largest size of dilator that you can currently insert comfortably, plus the next size larger than that.
  • Set up an environment that makes you feel relaxed and comfortable. If it’s cold, get a hot water bottle or wheat pack and/or a blanket to stay cosy. You may also like to have a relaxing scent nearby like lavender, or even a candle.
  • Dilating can be very boring, so find a way to entertain yourself during the dull bits. Choose a good book to read, put on some music, use your phone, watch a movie. (Note that using a laptop while dilating can be extremely awkward, however). Put any entertainment you want to use within easy reach by the bed, and make sure everything is set up BEFORE you insert the dilator.
  • Throw the duvet cover aside, and lay a towel down lengthways on the bed where you’re going to lie.
  • Prop up your pillows so you can sit up comfortably - test they are positioned right before proceeding. You don’t want to get a sore neck!
  • Wash and pat dry your dilators. Set them next to the bed within easy reach. Also put your lube there, and some tissues to clean up spills and sticky fingers.
  • Undress and lie down on the towel, making sure that you pull it up behind your back a little bit to guard against any accidental leakage of lube on to your pillows and sheets. Lie down as much as you can while keeping your torso elevated enough to comfortably access your nether regions (and read your book, or whatever). Adjust pillows as needed to make this work.
  • Apply lube liberally to the smaller dilator of the pair and to your genitals.
  • Practise relaxing your pelvic floor muscles. To do this, use your muscles in the same way you would when making a bowel movement. Try to consciously relax your pelvic floor muscles whenever the dilator starts to feel uncomfortable. (Try to avoid contracting your pelvic floor muscles, which is what you do to stop the flow of urine when you pee).
  • With your legs flat on the bed but spread wide apart, relax your pelvic floor, then slowly ease the dilator inside you. Insert it as far as it can comfortably go, at an angle that respects the natural curve of the vaginal canal.
  • Slowly slide your legs closed, holding the dilator in with a gentle touch. Depending on the size of dilator and your tightness, you may be able to hold it in place simply by pressing your legs together, but if not, continue to exert gentle pressure with one hand.
  • Once you are able to relax enough to forget about the dilator, start to enjoy your chosen form of entertainment. If you move, your muscles may tense or shift in a way that makes the dilator stab you uncomfortably, so try to stay still and make any movements small and slow.
  • When you feel suitably relaxed, and are no longer noticing the dilator inside you, slowly widen your legs again and try pushing it in a little further, rotating it, moving it in circles or moving it in and out very slowly and gently. Stop if you experience pain; learn what works for you at this point in time.
  • You can continue to repeat this pattern for as long as you like, leaving the dilator inside you for a while, then moving it around, leaving it for a bit again, etc. ad infinitum.
  • Once the dilator you’re currently using feels comfortable no matter how you manipulate it, you can move up to the next size of dilator. I like to work with two different dilator sizes within the same dilation session, but you don’t have to do this; take as much time as you need. A typical dilation session is about 20 minutes but it can go on for however long you feel comfortable. If you are experiencing a lot of pain or discomfort, stop earlier.

Once the larger of the two dilators you started with feels comfortable, you can move on to using the larger one plus the next largest dilator in each session, and so on.

Even when you’ve worked your way up to the largest dilator in your set, you may want to start each session with the smallest (or one of the smaller) dilators as a warm-up. This is perfectly normal and OK. Many of us need to warm up to larger dildos when we masturbate, for example.

Speaking of masturbation, dilators generally don’t provide a lot of stimulation because they are designed to not produce painful sensations when stretching the vagina. However, you may find that once you have adjusted to a particular size of dilator, you are able to get some pleasurable sensations from it, in which case, you have full permission to masturbate during your dilation session! Masturbation is very beneficial for opening up the vagina, so it will actually help your dilation routine.