Next Steps in Dilation and Dating

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    Hi everyone!

    Thank you for providing a place where I can find some sort of comfort knowing I’m not alone in this, no matter how helpless and self-conscious it makes me feel on a daily basis.

    I didn’t know what vaginismus was until early 2019 after a very emotional, enlightening appointment with my therapist, who to note, was addressing my soon to be diagnosed depression and anxiety disorders. From fourth grade when I got my period up until this moment, I thought something was just genuinely wrong with me. Inserting a tampon was impossible- I was absolutely terrified. My mom and sister couldn’t understand. All I ever thought about was “How will I ever have sex? How will I ever have a baby?” Tampons, fingers, and larger things were simply not going anywhere. It was a huge factor in the end of my 3 year long relationship in college. He couldn’t understand, I couldn’t explain it, and he thought it meant I didn’t like him. It just couldn’t happen- complete block. When my therapist told me about vaginismus and ultimately referred me to a PT, it was like the biggest weight was lifted off of my shoulders… knowing that I had an explanation. I didn’t have to keep avoiding awkward conversations with friends and family. I had hope. I WANTED to tell more people about it because I think so many women were in the same situation as me, feeling lost and hopeless. Society really fails to portray sex in a realistic way or provide crucial information about sexual health when we’re growing up- in school, in the entertainment industry, etc. It’s sad.

    Since then, I have been able to use a decent sized dilator, but I only can bring myself to do it if I’m drinking (probably too much at that.) I feel like I don’t know where to go from here- like I’ll never be able to get to the next size. How many days a week and for how long should I be using it?

    Additionally, I want to be able to start dating in NYC but I just keep putting it off thinking that a guy will reject me when they know I’m a virgin. I’m not ashamed that it’s never happened now with my new knowledge that it’s a physical dysfunction, but I don’t even know where to begin when having this conversation with someone new. Dating my past boyfriend for 3 years kept me in such a comfortable place and I was praying I would be able to just have sex with him and “get it out of the way” so I wouldn’t be in the position I am now. How do I have this conversation with someone and when? I feel like I have to be careful so they don’t think the wrong thing or think it’s something that will be forever. It also just seems like an incredibly personal issue that will be very hard to bring up with someone, say, a dozen dates in or so.

    Thank you all so much for listening and stay safe. <3

    Helen Leff, LCSW

    Hi vialeoncino,
    Welcome to the forum- you are not alone and have come to the right place.
    Glad to hear that you are working with a therapist to address anxiety/depression. There is often an emotional component to vaginismus. I’m not sure if you are still seeing your pelvic floor PT and it may be a good idea to have another session to help you move up in dilator size and help with your confidence. We at Maze treat both the physiological as well as the emotional components of vaginismus. It’s understandable that you have concerns getting into a relationship and explaining or not explaining to a potential partner. Vaginismus is curable and you are courageously working on it.
    Keep us posted.
    Stay safe and sound,


    Hey girl! I’m sorry to hear that you have thee dreaded Vaginismus! But it is curable! I think that physical therpay and dilating is a great approach!! As for how often to dilate, I’d say nearly every day! Of course it’s okay to take a few days break every so often, as you may be sore at times. When I first started dilating, after my BOTOX procedure, I was issued lidocaine to mix with my lube to make dilating less painful until I got used to it and got more comfortable with it. Maybe you could ask your Gyno or PT for some! It helped me tremendously. Dilating up in sizes is supposed to be uncomfortable, but doable. It’s going to hurt a little because you’re stretching your muscles but it shouldn’t be excruciating. Dilate with each size until you’re 100% comfortable with that size to the point where it becomes easy for you, then move up in size. You could also Google stretches to loosen up those pelvic floor muscles, there’s a couple easy yoga stretches that help a lot! Also, Google dilating breathing techniques to help open up your vagina. It works so well! Basically you breathe in deep and blow your stomach up instead of your chest and once you can’t take anymore air in, insert the dilator. Hold for a sec to get adjusted with it in there, and while you exhale you can slowly pull your dilator out, but not all the way. Then repeat!

    As for conversations with men about this topic, me personally, I’d tell them right off the bat. 1- They’ll tell you right away if they’re willing to be with you or not and 2- I think it could save your feelings from being hurt. You don’t want to get involved with someone and then they find out about it and leave. A great guy will see how wonderful you are, and will accept you how you are and will be willing to work with you! 🙂 But don’t be afraid to date! You deserve to happy and live your life to the fullest, don’t let vaginismus stop you from having great meals and conversations with new people! I married my husband before we even cured my vaginismus.

    And if you ever feel stuck, or you can’t make anymore progress, the ladies at Maze can take great care of you! Give it a good fair shot with your PT and dilating, but if you can’t keep going I highly recommend the BOTOX procedure!!

    I hope this helps!


    Hi vialeoncino – I want to start by recognizing how brave you are and how hard you’ve worked to get to this place of hopefully exploring intercourse with someone soon, but also just in understanding the problem you have and working toward a solution that gives you what you want. That’s a huge thing that deserves celebrating.

    I think in resuming dating, a few things will help you. First of all, just getting further along in the dilating process will give you more confidence. Dilation is an extremely gradual, day-by-day process that has gains and setbacks, and it sounds like you still have some work to do in terms of gradually weaning yourself off of needing alcohol to insert larger dilators. If you’re able to get in smaller ones without alcohol, I recommend going back to an earlier size and working your way without having alcohol in your system. You know these dilators can be physically inserted because you’ve done it before, but you’re giving yourself a more stable footing so you don’t have to be dependent on alcohol to be penetrated down the line. This may take time to gain some of this ground back, but it is worth putting that control back in your hands, and there’s an abundance of information on these forums about techniques for relaxing and distracting yourself as you work through the dilator sizes.

    I think that Heather is right in that ultimately it will benefit you to be up front about your situation with potential new partners, but I think how well this will go depends a lot on how this information is delivered. I say this knowing it’s VERY much easier said than done, but I recommend faking confidence and casualness in addressing sex. Before you even get into a bedroom situation (maybe if a new partner comes over to your place but before you start getting intimate, consider saying something like, “hey, just so you know I have a condition that’s affected my vaginal functioning so I’m still working on some stuff, but I’m really into you and can’t wait to explore stuff we both like.” Start from a positive place (that you’re attracted to this person) and that you want to do sexy things with them and then start to explore what you each like. This is something you may want to think about how you handle, but I just want to say I don’t think it’s strictly necessary for you to tell new partners that you’re a “virgin” (an unhelpful, patriarchal, and outdated concept anyway!) While it’s important to disclose sexual health issues like whether you have any STDs, what you tell new people about your sexual past is your decision. I know the temptation is probably to present your situation as a serious, negative issue (because that’s how it feels to those of us who suffer from it for years), but if you present it as negative, the people you tell it to will probably take it in a negative way.

    You are a whole, complete person and you deserve love, affection, and intimacy. Sometimes we have to fake the confidence we don’t have yet to build the love that will GIVE us confidence, but I know you can do it. You were brave enough to get this far and have worked hard. You can get the love you want if you let yourself.

    Let us know if you have questions about anything at all – so many women have been where you are and have gotten to the other side! You have that power too, and I hope you get exactly where you want to go.


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