The thought of penetration hurts.
And the act of penetration KILLS, wouldn’t you agree?
All of us humans experience both emotional and physical pain in one way or another. Unfortunately, this kind of super private, painful experience is the one that both you and I got stuck with.
We drew that card.
And I have a message for you…
It’s okay to be a human, and to allow yourself to FEEL the pain.
It’s okay to take time for healing.
We need time to make changes in life. To change patterns. In this case, to get out of the self-fulfilling prophecy called The Cycle of Pain.
Healing from vaginismus takes both emotional and physical work and both of those require a commitment and TIME.
Time is at the crux of the biggest mistake you might be making when it comes to vaginismus.
And I see this especially in the physical healing journey of using dilators to help in achieving penetration.
*If you’re asking yourself “What are dilators?”, you might first want to read about how dilating can help on your journey in healing vaginismus.
Dilators can be absolutely life-changing. They can serve as your best friends in the physical healing!
NOT if you rush it.
Have you ever asked a friend for help in solving a problem?
Well what would happen if as they’re trying to deliver the solution to your problem, you keep saying “Hey, can you go faster, please? I need the answer now!”
Or asking them “Have you got it yet”, repeatedly?
They aren’t going to think any faster. In fact, this pressure will slow down their progress in figuring things out for you, because they’ll feel stressed out.
Now, I know that dilators can’t think, or have a conversation with you… But this concept is relevant nonetheless.
The biggest mistake you might be making with dilating is going TOO FAST, with too much pressure and expectation.
We must find a way for you to feel relaxed and at ease with your dilating practice.
You see, in order to be able to insert anything into your body (which has been rejecting it repeatedly already), the circumstances in which you do the inserting need to be positive.
Calm, free of pressure and expectations.
Currently, the anticipation of pain exists within your mind and body, whether consciously or subconsciously….
And this creates an environment that is not perceived as safe.
Your pelvic floor muscles need to be able to relax at the THOUGHT of penetration…
And then later at the ATTEMPT of penetration.
So your mind and body can feel safe.
Safety. That’s the key. That’s where we start.
Until and unless you are able to create an environment of safety around penetration in your life and during your dilating practice, you will not be able to achieve relaxation.
So please please please don’t rush this first step.
Don’t rush your mind and body in solving the vaginismus problem for you.
I tried to rush it and as a result, my healing journey was significantly longer than it could have been.
Only when I was able to give myself time and space to heal did I begin to make progress.
So how do we create safety?
There are different strategies in creating a container of safety, spanning from your physical environment, thoughts, body position, breathing techniques and even to the dilators you’re using.
Here are some practical tips to begin creating safety. Putting these to practice can create absolute breakthrough with dilating.
Spend as many days as you need (at least a few days and maybe a week), not attempting insertion, but instead simply contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles as you HOLD the dilator first just around your belly, and later close to your vaginal opening.
It’s crucial to acquaint your vaginal muscles with having the dilator close by and teaching your body to be able to relax with the dilator being in proximity.
So it feels AS normal and comfortable as just chilling in bed.
Once you’re comfortable with having the dilator close by (and can allow your body to relax during that time), you can start with some touch.
Spend another few days just touching the dilator tip to your opening and surrounding area, without attempting insertion. With no pressure to have anything inside your body at all!
This knowing that penetration WILL NOT happen takes so much pressure and fear out of your mind and body…
It’s ONLY when you become comfortable with the dilator touching your vaginal opening that you should attempt partial insertion. This way, your muscles will not be quick to close when the dilator tip is approaching the opening.
Have YOU been pushing through too fast, trying to achieve penetration and ending your dilating attempts in disappointment?
Once I decided to spread my knowledge about vaginismus with people like you, I made it a point to share my insights and explore what tools are out there so I can recommend only the best.
So that you don’t make the same mistakes I did in creating that safety container (like using a plastic dilator set for example).
And when I heard the same dilator set being recommended multiple times in a row, I got curious.
I quickly found the wonderful company, Soul Source and Jane, its President. She has an inspiring passion for human health.
So Soul Source is the original designer of silicone vaginal dilators with their shape, colour and size range.
Their dilator set was created in 1991 by Jane’s cousin, Jillian Romm, who is a sex therapist and retired professor. She and a gynaecologist colleague are the leaders to bring these irreplaceable tools to the world.
I have high respect for the amount of work that it took to design and create this very first dilator set AND the commitment it required to bring this product to market!
It was a feat in itself to initially educate professionals and patients about the benefits of vaginal dilators.
The Soul Source creation looks like this!
I tried this beautiful set myself and this is what I have to report:
Number of Dilators
This set is made up of 8 dilators.
That’s 8 different sizes which is the most you’ll find on the market, from all sets that I’ve tried.
The set includes dilators that gradually increase in size to allow for a comfortable and a smooth experience as you progress with your dilator training.
This is THE most important attribute when it comes to dilators.
Diameter is the most important measure when talking about size because it determines how much your pelvic floor muscles need to stretch in order to allow the dilator into your vaginal canal.
The difference in length of the dilator isn’t AS important since you can choose what length of the dilator to insert.
The diameters of all sizes are as follows:
Size 1: 0.5 inches (Another dilator manufacturer, Intimate Rose has its first size advertised to start at a diameter a little bit smaller at 0.45 inches).
*I actually took the liberty of measuring this first size with a ruler and found that BOTH dilators were 1.2 centimetres in diameter, which is 0.47 inches. I didn’t measure the rest of the sizes so I have included their measurements as advertised.
Size 2: 0.75 inches (compared to Intimate Rose‘s Size 2 dilator at 0.7 inches)
Size 3: 0.875 inches
Size 4: 1.0 inches
Size 5: 1.125 inches
Size 6: 1.25 inches
Size 7: 1.4375 inches
Size 8: 1.625 inches (compared to Intimate Rose’s Size 8 dilator 1.5 inches)
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to be able to insert all dilators to achieve success with your dilator training. The largest dilator you should aim to insert, if sexual penetration is your goal, is the size of your partner’s penis.
If inserting a tampon is what you’d like to achieve, then you may only need to practice with the first two sizes of the dilators.
This is the second most important attribute.
The dilators are made from latex-free silicone rubber.
This is what you should be looking for.
And it’s not plastic! Woohooo!
Oh, and it’s gluten free!
Feel of Material (Touch)
The 2 types of feel of silicone dilators are a matte-like feel and a glossy-like feel.
Glossy-like feel of the silicone makes the dilators a bit sticky to the touch. It feels as though you’re holding a tennis racquet, the grip of which is designed to avoid it slipping out of your hand. Or as though you’re letting a slip-proof phone case rest on your palm – as you angle your hand slightly, it doesn’t slip out easily.
The dilators by Soul Source have this glossy-like feel.
On the other hand, dilators of the Intimate Rose brand have a matte-like feel of the silicone, which makes them silky smooth and soft to the touch. When you run your fingers along the surface, it’s as though you’re touching a silk-like texture. The dilator can slip around your palm and fingers effortlessly.
When running your fingers along the bare dilators, this difference IS significant to the touch.
With this tactical experience of both types of dilators, you may already make some assumptions.
You may assume that having a silk-like silicone will be smoother and more comfortable during insertion into your vaginal canal, rather than the glossier, stickier alternative.
This seems logical…
And I tested if this is the case in practice.
The first step was putting lube on the dilators.
When you cover both dilators with a liberal amount of lube (highly recommended for dilator training), pre-insertion, the difference between the dilators disappears fully. You only feel the lubricant that covers the surface of the silicone, so both the glossy and matte-like silicone feel the exact same.
It’s important to note that as the dilators are being inserted and remain inside your body, the lubricant naturally gets absorbed by your skin and therefore comes off of the dilator. As the lubricant layer rubs off, the matte vs glossy-feel of the silicone becomes prominent once again.
I know this because after I took out the dilator from my vaginal canal, I sensed the matte-like and glossy-like feel again, this time just unevenly covered in a thin layer of lubricant (whether the original one, or my body’s natural lubrication).
But is there a difference in the two textures of the dilators while inside the body?
During insertion, in and out movement and trigger point release, I personally didn’t notice the matte-like vs the glossy-like feel of the silicone to feel much different while inside my body.
HOWEVER, whether you can tell the difference between the smooth and silky textures depends on a few major factors, like what lubricant you’re using, whether your body creates enough additional natural lubrication and EVEN how delicate your skin is.
You may notice that the glossy-like feel of the silicone is less comfortable if you are using a hypo-osmolar or hyper-osmolar lubricant instead of an iso-osmolar one, you don’t have enough additional natural lubrication, and if you have delicate skin.
Vulva owners who have sustained tears giving birth and who have undergone radiation to the vaginal tissue have highly sensitive and delicate skin respectively.
As per Dr. Amanda, President of Intimate Rose, the matte-like finish of their dilators was specifically used to protect delicate skin and sensitive scar tissue in the perineum and inside the vagina.
I haven’t yet given birth and other than having had vaginismus, I haven’t had any other injury to the pelvic floor to result in tearing, sensitive scar tissue or otherwise delicate skin. So I’m afraid I cannot vouch for this myself.
I can only say that if you have sensitive and delicate skin for any reason and you’re not using an iso-osmolar lubricant, you MAY find the the glossy-like feel of the Soul Source dilators uncomfortable.
At the same time, Soul Source actually had the matte-like finish of their dilators in the past, but switched to the glossy-like finish as they found that people prefer it for its appearance and ease of cleaning.
Feel of Material (Flexibility)
So what kind of flexibility should you be looking for?
More flexible dilators increase your comfort during dilator training. That’s why the rigid plastic set I used was extremely uncomfortable and unforgiving.
On the other hand…
Since dilators can also be used for trigger point release, it’s important that they are firm enough to be able to effectively apply pressure to your pelvic floor muscles.
In other words, you can’t put pressure on a tomato using a feather!
I haven’t yet run into a set that is too flexible to make trigger point release ineffective… SO the attribute of flexibility is important for comfort, but isn’t a deal breaker when it comes to trigger point release.
Although aesthetics don’t seem to be very important, there are a few practical aspects of nice-looking dilators.
This set has a different colour for almost every dilator – sizes 1 and 7 are the same purple for some reason. But still, the colour differentiation makes it much easier to identify and remember which one you should pick up during your dilator training.
The worst would be trying with a size too large and getting disappointed with yourself, only to realize that you were trying to insert the wrong dilator!
Ease of Cleaning
I find these dilators easy to clean.
When it comes to cleaning, it’s important to clean and dry any intimate tool or toy thoroughly, as bacteria CAN grow on damp surfaces.
In your drying, I recommend that you to pay special attention to contours in the silicone, if any. The Soul Source dilators are fully smooth and do not have any added contour.
The dilators at Intimate Rose have a nice logo on both the shaft and the base, which is a nice aesthetic touch and I urge you to make sure the entire surface is dry before you store them away.
Place of Manufacturing
The Soul Source dilators are designed AND manufactured in the USA!
The set comes with a nifty dark green pouch to store them in!
Price (in USD)
The full 8-piece dilator set is $210.
The small set (Sizes 1-4) is $79 and the large set (Sizes 5-8) is $140, which means you save $9 if you go ahead and buy the full set instead of waiting to purchase the large set separately when you need it.
I don’t see many reasons why you would purchase individual dilators when you’re trying to overcome vaginismus, except for if your goal is to insert a tampon and nothing larger…
But if you did want to get each size individually, you’re looking at between $18 and $55 per dilator.
Because I like this dilator set very much, I partnered with Jane from Soul Source to spread the word about their products AND get you a discount!
Use promo code WITHLOVE at checkout and you’ll get a 5% discount from any product you purchase from Soul Source.
And I’ve been sure to do my research thoroughly and objectively, so you can read about my reviews of other dilator sets here:
VuVa (these ARE plastic, but also magnetic so I felt that I needed to share my thoughts on the tech behind these dilators)
So it’s safe to say that…
My life would have been so much easier if I just allowed myself the time to dilate in a SLOW and steady way, instead of rushing the process.
It would have been significantly more pleasant too, especially if combined with a conscious pleasure and self-care practice.
I would have probably achieved my goal of having a limitless sex life SOONER than I did!
Would YOU like to speed up your progress by slowing down?
Please comment below with your thoughts about anything I shared!
As part of the Pain Free and Intimate Recipe, I’ve put together a detailed guide designed to take you through the process at the right pace, to avoid pain and finally break the cycle of pain!
AND, I want to congratulate you for committing to your healing journey by doing your research and reading this!
Starting is the hardest step and that means you’re well on your path to healing! Celebrate that fact today… How about a relaxing bath?
If you haven’t checked out this goodie yet, get “11 Tips From Vulva Owners: What Helped Them Overcome Vaginismus”.
And get my book, “Vaginismus: Breaking The Cycle Of Pain” for FREE now (just pay shipping so I can get it delivered to your door)!
A Surprise For You
I want to tell you about our giveaway!
Jane from Soul Source generously offered their small set of 4 dilators (sizes 1, 2, 3 and 4) to send one lucky winner!
That’s a value of $79.
Want to win this set?
To your sexual freedom!
– Katrin, with Love