Vaginal dilation therapy is meant to train the muscles of your vagina to behave differently. There are a variety of reasons why some people may need this kind of therapy, such as illness or recent surgery on their genitals. Vaginal dilation therapy can serve as a treatment for many health issues and can truly improve someone’s quality of life.
What is Vaginal Dilation?
Vaginal dilation therapy uses dilators to stimulate the vaginal wall and the muscles surrounding the vaginal area. Throughout the therapeutic process, you should be able to increase the size of your dilators slowly. When you can insert one size of a dilator completely into your vagina without any discomfort, you should start using the next size up. The goal is to insert the largest size dilator without any discomfort, if possible. This can be very difficult for some people due to health complications, especially depending on genital surgeries they may have had done.
People who have gender confirmation vaginal tract creation must perform vaginal dilation therapy. Vaginal dilation therapy is not something all doctors discuss with their patients, and that’s why it is so important to know about this treatment. If you are considering having surgery or need surgery for health reasons, vaginal dilation therapy could be crucial to your recovery. This treatment should always be offered to you by your doctor and if it isn’t, you should seek care from someone who is more experienced in this field.
GRS Vaginoplasty Surgery
GRS stands for genital reconstruction surgery, which is sexual reassignment or gender confirmation surgery. In this case, the genitals are transformed and are going to look and feel completely different than they did previously. People who are considering getting this surgery may not be aware of the recovery process and the mental and physical toll it takes on the mind and body. Treatments such as vaginal dilation can relieve some pain and discomfort and make the genital transition a whole lot easier.
If considering a full-depth vaginal tract creation, dilation therapy will absolutely be needed following the procedure. Vaginal dilation therapy is also needed after moderate-depth vaginoplasty, but that schedule can be made less intense. Dilations keep the vagina open preventing vaginal stenosis – a process where the vaginal walls scars down and contract. The new vagina will tend to close because the body’s reaction to any procedure is to scar and try to heal itself – although in this situation this “healing” process is counterproductive.
The Process of Dilation as a Therapy
After having GRS surgery, you will be discharged home with a catheter in place and a packing left in the vagina. This packing is very important as it allows the vagina skin to heal and “stick” to the underlying tissue. During this time, as you recover, it is important to avoid any vigorous activity in part because you don’t want to have incisions disrupted but also because it allows time for the vaginal grafts to “take” which in the long term increases the chances of a good outcome. You also must maintain softened stool, so that you do not have to strain. Straining to evacuate your rectum can push the vaginal tract outward.
The packing needs to stay inside the vagina for one week, and then you will need to return to your doctor’s office to get it removed. After this happens, you can begin dilation therapy.
You should always use lubrication during vaginal dilation therapy. For the first two weeks after your surgery, you should dilate twice a day for about 30 minutes each time. After two weeks, you can increase the frequency of dilation to three times a day. After a month you can start to go up on the size of the dilator, and then continue to increase it depending on how you feel.
If the dilations are getting more difficult or the vagina is feeling tighter when you dilate, you should dilate more frequently every day until it is easier to get the dilator in. You can also leave the dilator in for longer periods of time if it is difficult to dilate.
You should always make sure the dilator is clean before dilation, and after dilation, you can just wash out the dilator with mild soap and water. It should be kept clean but does not have to be “sterile.”
How Long Should I Do Vaginal Dilation Therapy?
Trans women must dilate intensively for the full year after their procedure while their vaginal scars are maturing. If all goes well, the frequency of dilation can be reduced around 6-8 months post-op, but the process will be done very regularly for the first year. After the year of recovery, you will be able to reduce the dilation to maintenance frequency meaning that over time you can slowly step down in frequency to once a week or once every 2 weeks. Most trans women continue with vaginal dilation maintenance therapy for years after their surgery because it truly benefits their lives. This therapy can train the vaginal muscles to behave comfortably, and it also helps the body adjust to having different genitals.
If you have undergone surgery and are worried about the continuation of vaginal dilation therapy, you should talk to your doctor. Everyone is different and experiences recovery differently, so it’s always a good idea to ask questions and be prepared. It’s important to take care of your body and to give it what it needs to heal and grow. By using vaginal dilation therapy to heal following genital reconstructive surgery, you are doing the best thing you can for your body.
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