Dilating Discouraging Me

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    Hi everyone. I’m a 22 year old who has dealt with vaginismus for a couple years. I’m not sexually active but I knew I had a problem when I had pain with tampons. It wasn’t till I tried to have a pap that I realized something was not right. The speculum literally felt like it was ripping my insides out and that a knife was stabbing through. I’e been so fearful of the pain that whenever I had an infection down there, I would much rather DEAL with the infection for weeks till my period would flush it out than take 5 minutes to have it swabbed.

    After several failed attempts of not being able to tolerate the speculum or tampons, my doctor finally convinced me to see a Pelvic Floor Therapist for help. I’ve been in PT since January and I can comfortably say I’ve gotten to wear tampons with barely any pain and also put a finger in without pain! So I know it’s been working but when I started dilators in February, things have been rough. My pt wanted me to use each dilator for a week and depending how things went, would have me move to the next dilator. I’ve been super loyal in doing them twice a day for 10 minutes each but I’m starting to wonder if I’m overworking the muscles too much. 1 goes in with no pain and 2 has a slight tongue of pain but it’s tolerable. When I started 3, I had my period and things slid right in no problem. My pt wanted me to try to move to 4 at the time since 3 would go in but Now that my period ended a couple days ago, 3 only goes half way and if I push any further I get a throbbing burning pain. The pain starts in the vagina but spasms up to my uterus/clitoris so I’m not sure if that’s something that is normal with vaginismus or if I should have that addressed. I’m getting discouraged because I was able to get 3 in on my period and now it hardly goes that far. I stopped using 4 because what’s the point if 3 is hurting and doesn’t fully go up? I’ve cried about it quite a few times and am starting to feel less motivated to dilate. I’m starting to feel like this is never getting better because I have been lengthening, adding lube, breathing and I don’t know why it’s such a struggle. I’m trying to be gentle to myself and remember that Ive has small victories like: being desensitized at having something by the entrance and inserting tampons/finger in but it’s so hard to be positive when you feel like you’re regressing than progressing. 🙁


    Hi AlleyRenee,

    So sorry to hear about your frustration. I wanted to comment because I’m on dilator #3 too and found it a bit more difficult than the previous ones. Here are some ideas to try that worked for me:

    1. I always start off with the smaller dilators first. So, I start with #1 and then work my way up to #3. It helps to get the muscles and tissues to relax and prepped — and my mind.

    2. When inserting D3, it’s important to take it very slowly. Think baby steps. Start off by adding a ton of lube if you’re already not doing that. Then insert it into the opening and see how that feels. Once you’re feeling comfortable, very slowly begin inserting it further. Whenever you hit a tight spot or a place that’s uncomfortable…stop. Keep the dilator there and just concentrate on relaxing the muscles. You may want to do deep breathes. But, just keep the dilator there until you feel fully relaxed – no need to rush it. Then if you’re doing kegels, practice doing the reverse kegel. So, contract a little and then relax/buldge out, ensuring you’re not tightening. Once fully relaxed and you’re pelvic muscles are relaxed, I found that I could insert it a bit further. Keep doing this technique…insert, relax, reverse kegel until you’re able to insert it all the way. It took me a few baby step rounds in order to get it all the way in. Also, if it doesn’t work the first time, don’t give up. Try again. It took me a couple of times to finally get it in! Once I did get it in, I kept it in for 5 minutes and then inserted it again (using the same technique above) 2 more times for 5 minutes each.

    3. Also, are you relaxing before doing your dilator work? I have an entire “Me Time” routine that I do before dilating. I do yoga stretches, a hot shower, deep breathes, sometimes affirmations, and then a body scan to see where I’m tense. I do all of this to relax myself before I do the dilators. So, if you don’t have some sort of routine beforehand, it might be a good idea to incorporate a few things to make it a special time and one that’s relaxing.

    Keep on celebrating the small victories! That’s really going to pull you through. Just think about how far you’ve come on this journey. Hope this helps. Let me know how it goes. Wishing you love and blessings on your journey.


    hi AlleyRenee,
    So smart of you to come to the forum for support!

    As jkennedy wisely mentioned, it is so important to begin dilation with a dilator that you’re confident and comfortable with inserting (like dilator #1). After inserting the smaller dilator (with lots of organic refined coconut oil or a good quality lubricant like Sliquid hybrid), remove that and insert the next size up (again with a lot of lubricant). You may want to try to keep dilator #2 in for the majority of the 10 minutes and then attempt to insert dilator #3 for only 10 seconds initially. And then every day following, gradually decrease the time with #2 and increase the time with #3.

    Also, we recommend that you just dilate once/day for 10 minutes. It’s possible that the tissue is causing the discomfort; if that’s the case more frequent dilation may only irritate the tissue (and you!) more.

    I love jkennedy’s suggestion about relaxation time before dilation and being mindful of nice, slow deep breaths during the dilation process itself. Some days will be easier than other days. Keep coming to the forum and talk to your PT for support. Dilating can be frustrating and it’s important to know that you are not alone.


    AlleyRenee, you’ve already gotten a ton of good advice here, but I wanted to add that you shouldn’t feel totally beholden to the timeline your physical therapist has set if it isn’t aligning with what your body needs. It’s great that she wants to keep you moving and seeing progress, but if it takes you more than a week to work with a certain dilator that’s TOTALLY okay – some milestones are trickier than others and it’s a journey that takes as long as it needs to, as frustrating as that can be. And like everyone else has said: start with a dilator you’re comfortable with, use TONS of lube (especially when not on your period), dilate just once a day, and also celebrate how far you’ve already come! It shows how strong you are and how much resolve you’ll be able to draw from as you proceed. Good luck and let us know how it goes – you’re on the right path!

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