I just had a nice, successful session of using dilators. No pain, no fear- very good!
I was thinking about what the different factors are that can lead to a good dilating session. Because, let's be honest, we've all had ones where we feel like absolute winners, and others that have ended in tears, frustration and hopelessness.
The key word is always 'relax'. If you are relaxed, you'll probably be able to insert a dilator, right? We've read it on websites and been told it by our therapists. It's not really rocket science. Since vaginismus thrives on tension, it's obvious nemesis is relaxation.
But HOW does one relax to the point of being able to insert a dilator? And is there more to it than simple 'relaxing'. If it that was that simple, we'd all be off having sex.
I am NOT A MEDICAL EXPERT. I have a theatre degree, for goodness sake. But I have been dealing with vaginismus for a very long time so here's my thoughts on that mysterious 'relaxation' that we all need to find... Or at the very least, the best and worst times to attempt dilating...
WHEN NOT TO DILATE (in my non-medical professional opinion)
Mood has a massive effect on my ability to insert a dilator. We all have good days, and bad days. That's normal. But if you're having a bad one, chances are you'll not be relaxed. So I wouldn't suggest trying to insert a dilator if you're in a foul mood. If you've had a terrible day at work, a fight with your partner, had to stand with your face in a strangers armpit on the train home, got caught in the rain... PUT THE DILATOR DOWN. Go and open a box of chocolates and watch some trash TV. Your bad mood will only cause stress and frustration, which is NOT conducive to good dilating.
While vaginismus forums and blogs are a really great thing (biased? moi?), they can also have their drawbacks. The plus side is an instant network of women in the same boat, and access to advice, support and sharing of stories. The downside is a bit of unhealthy comparison. That women you spoke to the other day who had never inserted a dilator is now up to the biggest one. Meanwhile yours havent been out the drawer for a month? That feeling. Not healthy. Use forums, read blogs (especially mine!), but dont use other women's success as a benchmark. We are all different in this crazy struggle, and will tackle it at different paces. If you go into a dilating session determined to catch up with VaginismusGirl300 from the forum, you'll work at a pace that isn't right for you. And you'll probably hurt yourself. So calm down. This is your journey.
Picture the scene: You're train is running late, you get home from work and have 45 minutes to throw dinner down your face, get changed, and get back out the door again for a social event that you kinda forgot you were supposed to be going to until you got a reminder text message on the journey home. But oh no, you haven't used your dilators in a few days. And now you feel super guilty. Sound familiar? Well, here's a massive piece of advice. Only got 3 minutes to spare, in amongst a sea of other shit that needs done? Leave the dilators in the drawer. Nobody's judging. Let's face it, nobody will even know. Stressed out dilating= bad dilating. There will be another day to do it.
It's an all too common story that women with vaginismus are often treated by ill-informed doctors who suggest 'a glass of wine to relax'. This really annoys me (but will save that rant for another day!). However, it could be said that a nice glass of wine at the end of the day does help you relax. Now, I REALLY LOVE a big yummy glass of wine. But have never, ever used dilators after drinking alcohol. This wasn't a massively conscious decision, but I think I have a bit of a fear that I would associate alcohol with relaxing, therefore could only insert dilators, and later on only have sex, if I'd been drinking. I don't think that's healthy. But that's just my opinion... If it works for you, then cheers!
WHEN TO DILATE (in my very non-medical professional opinion)
The best mood for dilating is when you're feeling really damn good about yourself! I think a good time to do it is after exercising, because you're usually on a bit of a buzz after moving your body. My movement of choice is yoga, or dancing, but whatever works for you. I do think yoga is a total winner though. I'm quite often amazed by my body during a yoga class. Things that seem physically, fucking impossible are suddenly a reality with a bit of hard work and commitment (now doesn't this sound a bit familiar...!) But also, try dilating after a successful day at work, or after a nice day out with friends, or even on a day off when you are doing NOTHING. If you're feeling happy and good and in love with yourself and the world, get out that dilator!
While I said earlier it's not good to compare yourself to others, it can be quite good to compare yourself to yourself. Remind yourself how far you've come. Be kind to yourself. If you move up a dilator then CONGRATULATE YOURSELF GIRL! If you are stuck on the same dilator for a while, acknowledge that this makes you feel rubbish, but also remind yourself that there was once a time when you couldn't insert anything. Be proud. And buy yourself a treat. A new lipstick, or some bubble bath or a pizza. You deserve it, you total champion.
If you get into a dilating routine, you'll probably find a time that works for you. So whether it's first thing in the morning, or before bed, or after lunch... it's your time. Stick to it, but don't beat yourself up if something comes up in your precious timeslot. Life happens. Don't be a slave to a dilator.
As I said, this doesn't work for me. But it might for you. However, what might be nice if you're in a relationship, would be to go for a few drinks (not loads, you need to be functional for the next bit), and then go home and try some stuff out. Maybe inserting a finger, or a vibrator... But, the alcohol isn't the key here. It's about going out on a nice date, spending time together whilst wearing nice clothes, and then coming home and having sex. SOUNDS GOOD.
So that, my friends, is my thoughts on the matter of when you should and should not dilate (I realise nobody asked me, but thought it nice to see tips written by a woman with actual vaginismus). Would love to hear your thoughts on this! Anything you disagree with, or any other dos and donts?
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