Dilation is the process of stretching the vaginal canal to keep it open after gender-affirming surgery. This is usually done after a vaginoplasty, which is a surgical procedure that creates a vagina. The vagina is a muscular tube that is lined with vaginal mucosa. After vaginoplasty, the vaginal walls can start to adhere to each other, which can lead to vaginal stenosis. Vaginal stenosis is a narrowing of the vaginal canal that can make it difficult or impossible to have penetrative sex.

Dilation helps to prevent vaginal stenosis by keeping the vaginal canal open. Dilators are usually made of silicone or plastic and come in a variety of sizes. The size of the dilator that is used will depend on the individual’s anatomy.

Dilation is usually done for 15-30 minutes, two or three times a day. It is important to start with the smallest dilator and gradually work your way up to the largest dilator. Dilation can be uncomfortable at first, but it usually becomes less uncomfortable over time.

If you are considering gender-affirming surgery, it is important to talk to your surgeon about dilation. They can help you learn how to dilate and can provide you with dilators.

Here are some additional resources that you may find helpful:

  • The Trevor Project:https://www.thetrevorproject.org/: The Trevor Project is a national organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth.
  • Trans Lifeline:https://www.translifeline.org/: Trans Lifeline is a national hotline that provides support to transgender people in crisis.
  • World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH):https://www.wpath.org/: WPATH is a professional organization that provides guidelines for the care of transgender and gender-diverse people.

“Dilating” refers to a medical procedure that is often necessary for individuals who have undergone genital reconstructive surgery, specifically vaginoplasty, as part of their gender affirmation process.

After vaginoplasty, the neovagina (the surgically constructed vagina) requires regular dilation to prevent the vaginal canal from narrowing or closing. Dilation involves the use of a dilator, which is a smooth, cylindrical medical device that is inserted into the neovagina. The dilator helps to maintain the depth and width of the vaginal canal by gently stretching the tissues.

The frequency and duration of dilation vary depending on the surgeon’s instructions and individual factors. Initially, dilation may be required multiple times a day, gradually decreasing to a few times per week over time. The duration of each dilation session can range from a few minutes to around 20-30 minutes. Lubrication is often used to ease insertion.

Dilation is an essential part of post-operative care after vaginoplasty to prevent complications, such as stenosis (narrowing of the vaginal canal) or scar tissue formation. It is important for individuals who have undergone vaginoplasty to follow their surgeon’s guidelines regarding dilation and attend regular follow-up appointments to ensure proper healing and maintenance of the neovagina.

It’s worth noting that dilation is specific to individuals who have undergone vaginoplasty and is not relevant for all transgender individuals. Transgender individuals may pursue a variety of different medical interventions or procedures based on their unique needs and goals for gender affirmation.