The short answer is - yes!
Vaginal dilators, also commonly known as vaginal trainers, have been used therapeutically for over 50 years to treat pelvic pain and painful intercourse. Dilators are a set of smooth cylindrical devices that gradually increase in both length and width. Dilators are placed inside the vagina, starting with small sizes and progressively using larger sized dilators. By gradually increasing the dilator length and width, we are stretching the vagina and pelvic floor muscles, decreasing sensitivity and pain, as well as reducing psychological anxiety, and fear related to pelvic pain (Lee et al 2018).
With correct usage, the therapeutic goal of dilators is to recondition and facilitate adaptive body to brain connection and help to eliminate anticipatory discomfort, pain and fear that women can experience in the lead up to, and during, intercourse. In simpler terms, with time the use of dilators is thought to provide a stretching stimulus to the vagina to decrease fear and anxiety and to promote pelvic floor relaxation. This disrupts the painful cycle of hyper-sensitization and reflexive muscular tightening found in women with pelvic pain. As dilators gradually increase in length and width, they provide an opportunity for the user to gradually expose their vagina to larger stimuli therefore decreasing sensitivity over time and allowing for pain free tampon use, intercourse and vaginal examinations.
Dilators can be beneficial if you have the following symptoms:
- Pain with intercourse
- Pain with tampon insertion
- Pain at the entrance of the vagina
- Pain post child birth with intercourse
- A diagnosis of vaginismus, vulvodynia or vestibulodynia