Do you experience pain with penetration or sexual intercourse? If this resonates with you, then you may have some pelvic floor muscle tightness.
An assessment from a pelvic floor physical therapist can determine if tight muscles within the pelvis are the cause of your pain and discomfort! Similar to how we may experience muscle tightness in our neck or back that affect how we move and go about our day, we can experience tight muscles within the pelvis that affect our ability to do various daily activities!
So, what do we do about that pesky pelvic floor tightness? When we have neck or back tightness, we can typically coax someone into giving us a massage or find a tennis ball to lay on – but it’s definitely not as easy to do that for the pelvic floor. Dilators are a tool that can mimic the pressure and stretch of a massage, but for the pelvic floor!
Just as you would not want to be too aggressive with a massage, you do not want to begin dilator work too aggressively or you may inadvertently cause your body to tighten those muscles even more in order to protect yourself! The body can go into a fight or flight response when it perceives a threat and will try to protect its vital organs. We do not want to create trauma to the pelvic floor by starting at a level that your body is not yet ready for. What this means is that you should start off with a dilator that you are able to tolerate (not too small that you don’t notice any pressure or slight discomfort, but not too big that the pressure or discomfort becomes unbearable). If pain with penetration is the problem, make sure to be slow with the insertion of the most tolerable dilator – remember, bigger is not always better! If the pain or discomfort occurs during sexual intercourse and the tightness is deeper, then you will want to use the dilator to hold pressure in that area – the size of the dilator is not necessarily important, but be sure to keep the pressure at a tolerable level! Rule of thumb is to keep everything tolerable; if you attempt the next size up and it becomes very uncomfortable, mentally you may be ready to move on but your body is letting you know it’s not quite ready yet.