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Coping with Painful Sex

Nearly 1 in 10 women say that they find sex painful. Yet only 51% of women tell their male partners when intercourse hurts.

Sadly, this bears out what I have found in my experience as a sex therapist: Although painful sex is one of the most common issues that women face in the bedroom, most are too embarrassed or uncomfortable to bring up the issue with their ob/gyn or even their partner.

Painful sex can occur for many reasons: It can be due to shifting hormones, irritation, infection, trauma, endometriosis, menopause, eating disorders, medications and other times for no known reason at all.

Although painful sex is common, the good news is that there are many things you can do to help make sex more comfortable. But this can’t happen unless women are empowered and allowed to discuss sex and their bodies without shame. If women realized that they don’t have to simply suffer in silence and that they can and should talk to their doctors AND their partners about their sexual pleasure, I believe we should see many cases of painful sex to be easily resolved.

One of the first things I recommend to women who suffer from painful sex is a dilator. Dilators are dildo-like instruments that help to naturally stretch the vagina in order to help make sex more comfortable and enjoyable. They make your vagina more elastic and more relaxed, restoring your genitals to a gentle, functional, and comfortable state.

Dilators can be very beneficial for use during menopause, when our vaginal tissue can become thinner and drier, making sex uncomfortable or even painful. They can also help treat sexual dysfunction like vaginismus, which is a condition that causes painful vaginal spasms and prevents intercourse or makes it extremely painful.

If you experienced tears or trauma during childbirth, dilators can help treat everything from cystitis to perineal tears to episiotomy, and pelvic pain. Dilators can also be an invaluable tool in recovering after hysterectomy or cancer therapy.

In other words, dilators are crucial tools for women in all stages of life, and that is why I created the Intimate Basics Dilator Set.

The dilator is made of smooth, supple silicone that is made to fit 3 graduated sleeves, so you can slowly work your way up to a larger dilator without needing to buy a new product.

This set also comes with a vibrating function, which was something I felt really strongly about. Dilating can sometimes feel clinical or rigorous, and that doesn’t equal relaxation and pleasure. With this optional vibrating function as well as the silicone sleeve (ribbed for your sensory pleasure), you won’t have to dread your dilating exercises.  And remember, the Intimate Accessories Dilator is also waterproof, so you can even use it in the bath!

How to Start Using a Dilator

First, always use plenty of lubrication (but never use silicone lubricant with silicone sex aids, as it can degrade the material on the toy). Instead, use oil-based or water-based, like Yoni Silk, an all-organic lubricant that includes fractionated coconut oil, damiana, and 100mg High-Grade CBD. (Find it here on Etsy). 

To insert the dilator, lay on your back with your knees bent and gently open. Find your vaginal openly and slowly press the dilator into your vagina as if you were inserting a tampon, being sure to take your time and listen to your body.

Do not ever force a dilator until you feel pain. Some pressure and slight discomfort is normal, but it should feel like a soft stretch, not searing pain. When you hit that point of pain, stop! This is your limit for now. 

Stay at this depth and focus on deep breaths in through your nose, out through your mouth. It may help to visualize a flower softly opening in the springtime, or a wave breaking on a shore. (Lighting some candles and playing relaxing music before you begin to use your dilator can help set the mood and keep you calm).

Gently squeeze and release around the dilator, as if you were doing a Kegel exercise. (Use the muscles that you use to stop-and-start your urine flow). You can also try softly turning the dilator inside of you, as if you were winding a clock, or pushing the dilator in-and-out several times to help loosen and relax the pelvic walls. Never push yourself to the point of pain and never continue if you feel overwhelmed or triggered. Using a dilator can be extremely emotional, especially if you have sexual trauma.

If working with the Intimate Basics Dilator Kit, I recommend using the beginner dilator, until you are comfortable fully inserting and holding the dilator squeezed between your vaginal walls, without pain or discomfort. This could take a week, a month, or more. Every woman’s body is different.  After you can do this without pain, swap out to the next widest sleeve. If this graduation feels too much for you, that’s okay. Go back to the thinnest sleeve and give yourself some more time.

If the next widest sleeve feels right, then remain at this sleeve continue using the tool to do your Kegels and practice gentle penetration. Try new depths and strokes each time, but do what feels right to you. Once you can comfortably insert and hold the dilator inside of you fully and without pain, you can try the widest and last level of the dilator. If at any time this feels too much for you, you can always return to the smaller dilator for a few sessions. And, if you are out of town, or sick, or too busy to dilate for a week or more, don’t jump back in with the widest dilator. Start with one of the smaller sleeves to give your body time to adjust once again before going to the biggest option right away.

Listen to your body. This is not a competition and there is no benefit whatsoever to leaping to the next sleeve before you are ready.  And, remember, this is a solo exercise, meant for you to do on your own so that you can fully listen to your body and be relaxed and attune with your needs. (Once you can insert and hold the widest dilator inside of you, you will probably be able to have sex without discomfort, as the widest sleeve is about the size of an average penis). 

Got a question or comment for me? Remember, you can find me on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.


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