This is a question I get asked several times a week, and for good reason. If you are using vaginal dilators, you most likely are experiencing pain during intercourse, also known as dyspareunia.
Dilators, or trainers, may also have been recommended by your health care to address conditions such as Vaginismus ( Pelvic Floor Myalgia) , Menopausal Atrophy (Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause), vaginal shrinkage due to cancer treatment such as radiation and /or chemotherapy, Vulvodynia, MRKH syndrome and other vulvar pain conditions.
The length of time that it takes to see results varies from person to person and depends on many factors such as age, medical history, diagnosis, hormone levels, and dedication to dilating. Typically, women that use their vaginal dilators regularly, as direct by their health care provider, see results within a few weeks. Progress may not always be linear and some women may experience a temporary setback. With this in mind it is important to be consistent and patient with the use of dilators.
To maximize the effectiveness of dilator therapy women should never start with a large dilator that is painful to insert. Be patient, and start with the smaller sizes and work your way up to the size of your partner. You want a dilator that has a little resistance, slight discomfort, but no pain. This gradual progression from smaller-to-larger sizes allows the pelvic floor muscles to learn how to relax and stretch. This helps to reduce pain and allows for more comfortable penetration.
Be consistent. Dilation therapy should be done at least three times a week, some physicians recommend 5-7 times. Check with your health care provider for the interval frequency and the length of time the dilator should be inserted. Do not over-do it- if you are sore or experiencing more than slight discomfort than back off for a few days.
The quality of the lubricant you are using can also affect the health of vaginal tissue and thus your dilation progress. Always use a lubricant with an osmolality and PH level similar to vaginal tissue.
In conclusion, the length of time it takes for vaginal dilation therapy to be successful depends on several factors and varies from person to person. With regular use, and a gradual progression of size, most women will start to see improvement in a few weeks to a few months. Always follow the advice of your healthcare team and be patient and consistent.