How to Use a Vaginal Dilator

The use of vaginal dilators can be an important step in helping to maintain your vaginal size and overcoming pain with vaginal penetration. Prior to incorporating the use of a dilator into your routine, it is important to discuss with your doctor whether it is appropriate to use.

Once you have been given approval, you can try these steps to help guide you on how to use a vaginal dilator.

Step One  

  • Place the tip of the smallest dilator at the entrance of your vagina. Make sure to start with a dilator small enough to use with minimum discomfort.  

  • Tense and relax your vaginal muscles so that you can feel the contrast. While your muscles are relaxed, gently slide the dilator into your vaginal entrance. If it does not enter easily, try changing the angle. When you lie on your back your vagina slants downward at an angle. It does not lie straight up and down.  

  • If your vagina feels tight, hold the dilator in place while you tense and relax your muscles against it, and then slide it a bit more inwards. When the dilator is in your vagina as far as it will go (usually just the base of the dilator will be outside the vaginal entrance), gently slide it out. 

Good to Know

Never force a dilator into your vagina. The dilator should slip in with only light pressure and with little or no pain. Do not press the dilator hard into the back or top of your vagina unless directed to do so by a doctor who is doing frequent exams. 

Step Two 

  • Repeat step one with the smallest dilator. Over one or several days of practice, it should become easier to slide the dilator into your vagina, with fewer pauses needed to tense and relax your muscle.  

  • Once the dilator is all the way in, hold it gently in position for about five minutes. If you feel tense, try listening to music or watching TV to distract you while you have the dilator in your vagina. The goal of step two is to have the dilator inside for a short time without pain. 

 Step Three 

  • Repeat step two with the smallest dilator, but after a few minutes of having the dilator inside your vagina, wiggle it gently from side to side and slide it partway in and out of your vagina a few times. The goal of step three is to move the dilator in your vagina without causing pain. 

When Should I Increase My Dilator’s Size? 

When you can do all three steps above with a small-sized dilator and without pain, you are ready to move to the next size. Begin again with step one, and practice steps two and three, taking as many days as you need to reach your goal of using a particular size of dilator without pain before moving to the next size.

If your goal is to have vaginal intercourse with a male partner, your largest dilator should be about as large as your partner's erect penis. The average erect male penis size is about 5.6 inches long and 4.8 inches around (or about 1.7 inches across).

If your sex life does not include penile-vaginal intercourse, try to reach a size of dilator that will help you have comfortable pelvic exams in the future. 

Can I Practice with My Partner? 

You may be wondering how using vaginal dilators will help you resume sexual penetration with a partner. The first goal of using dilators is to learn that you are in control of your vagina. You can relax your vaginal entrance and can put in a dilator without pain. Once you have mastered the first two or three dilator sizes, you can consider beginning to involve your partner in your learning process. 

When you feel ready, you can ask your partner to assist you in putting the smallest dilator into your vagina. This experiment could take place during a sexual encounter, or perhaps you could have your partner join you at the end of one of your private practice times with the dilators. Your goal is to stay relaxed as you gradually transfer control from you to your partner.

During partner practice, try to stay at least one size smaller than the dilator you use in your individual practice.  When comfortable you can test tolerating penetration by your partner with one or two fingers prior to transitioning to intercourse.