Tips to reduce anxiety during dilation

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    Hi all!
    I had my procedure this Monday (5/5) and I’m doing my best to stick to the dilation schedule. I am able to dilate with the #4 but I still have very high anxiety when I have to insert the dilator in.
    I was just curious if anyone else also faced anxiety with dilating after the procedure and how long it took for you to be comfortable with dilating? Right now my aim is to just become comfortable with dilation before moving up to #5 and #6. Any tips will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance 🙂


    Hi Sandy! Congratulations on having your procedure done this week! So exciting!! 🙂 🙂

    I think that most of us experience some anxiety post-procedure when it comes to dilating. It is a whole new world for most of us! It took me a week or two before I started to “settle in” to dilating and become more comfortable with it. I think remembering to breathe, practicing calming your body down, relaxing and taking some deep breaths is something that was (still is) helpful for me. Also, I found that when inserting the dilators if I practice my kegels it can be helpful. I will take a deep breath and tighten and relax the muscles. When inserting if I start to feel anxious, stressed, pain or discomfort I pause, take a deep breath and then tighten and relax. Then I can usually finish inserting without too much problem. One other thing that Dr. Pacik stressed to me my first couple weeks was to remember that it’s not a race. Even though we want to speed through it all and get to having a normal sex life, it’s good to move slowly and allow our bodies the time they need to adjust.

    No worries though, the way you’re feeling is completely normal. 🙂 You will adjust in time and in turn your anxiety levels will lower too. 🙂 I hope this helped!


    Thanks a lot, Becca! Yes, your post really did help! I’ve started taking deep breaths and doing the kegels whenever my anxiety peaks and that seems to be helping me. Hopefully, I will get used to the dilation soon. Also, it was reassuring to know that other women face anxiety with dilation post procedure too.


    Great tips! Less then a month til my procedure on 6/9!!!


    It will be here so, so soon Katie and I just know everything will go so well for you. Becca, these are excellent tips. Sandy, I also found a wonderful Blog from Dr. Pacik that may be useful to read:

    Some key points include:

    “While dilating, I found myself tense up because I was so nervous and scared about dilating. Each time I found myself tense; I would breathe and talk myself into relaxing. In the beginning, I was constantly tensing up while dilating but eventually dilating became second nature and I didn’t tense up. I know that any lingering soreness that I personally felt with dilating in the first days to week post-procedure disappeared with the more time that I did it as well.”

    “It is very common to sometimes feel tense with dilating as well as intercourse and it is something that we’ve all experienced. The key is to find ways to really allow yourself to relax. I personally have found self-hypnosis to be very, very helpful. . . . Some good ideas from other posts include: Patient 1: “We enjoy watching a nice movie at home while I dilate. Once the movie is finished, we tune up to some soothing music and move on with our plans.” Patient 2: “Post-procedure, I find that taking a long shower, burning some lavender scented oil (in an oil burner with a tea candle on the bottom), and watching something funny helps me to relax while dilating.”

    Hope this helps. Ladies, what other tips do you for helpful ways to relax while dilating???

    Dr. Pacik

    These are all helpful ways of reducing anxiety. Everyone has anxiety for something in life. We have our own ways of coping with anxiety to achieve stress reduction. It is helpful to think about the techniques we use for other areas of anxiety and translate this into the dilation process. This then becomes “mindful dilation” something I stress during every counseling session.

    Just about every patient shares with me the terror of dilating after vaginismus treatment. These are all patients who have severe penetration anxiety, yet every patient, no matter how much the fear, is able to do quite well progressing with the dilators. It is mainly perseverance and embracing dilation as a means to achieving a successful outcome. It is truly not a race. If it takes one to two weeks or more to get past the #4 it does not matter in the big picture. One day you will be able to move to the #5 even if it is just five minutes the first time. Every attempt helps stretch the tight vaginal muscles. As I have so often said it is physical therapy for the vagina, and we all know that any PT takes time and effort.

    We can learn from each other. Keep sending in your thoughts. It may make all the difference to someone else!

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