Personal stories

Here are some personal stories about dilation and the approaches people took. Feel free to read and even share yours with us (email We hope these help you think more about your many options.

Dilation or Exploration? A Personal Story

When I was 16 years old, my gynecologist and I began to talk about using vaginal dilators to increase the depth of my blind vagina and facilitate future sexual intercourse. I brought the topic up during one of my appointments, because I had noticed mention of the procedure on the AIS website, and wanted to learn more. She hooked me up with a set of white plastic dilators, ranging in size, and told me to apply pressure with them for 20 minutes per day, using Premarin cream as a lubricant. I tried them, and much to my dismay, I found the process to be anything but helpful. It was uncomfortable, both because I was inserting cold, hard plastic into my vagina and because my hands and wrists felt tired and sore very quickly. I also found the process to be emotionally difficult. Because I was diagnosed with AIS when I was little, I spent a good chunk of my childhood in and out of the endocrinologist’s office, having my genitals examined with interest by men and women I didn’t know. Using something as clinical as a prescription dilator did nothing but distance me even further from my genitals, making me feel like that part of my body was something I needed to stay away from in an effort to normalize them. Feeling frustrated and isolated, I googled something to the effect of “vaginal dilation” and found that mine was not an uncommon experience, and that most women with blind vaginas did not find the dilation process to be helpful.

When I discussed my misgivings later with my extremely helpful doctor, she told me that the dilators were not necessary in most cases. She told me that I could try exploring my body by masturbating, with the intent of manually expanding the tissue with my fingers. Aside from being a healthy expression of my sexuality, I found that this helped me to become more comfortable with my body and prepared me for more fulfilling sexual encounters. When I was ready to have intercourse, I experienced very little discomfort. After spending a long time with a very understanding boyfriend, I was able to enjoy normal sexual intercourse, with normal erotic sensation.

In sum, I guess my opinion on the dilation process is that it can be approached in two ways: the clinical, ranging from the use of plastic dilators to surgery; and the organic, an admittedly slower process. Having experienced both, the former did nothing but heighten my perception of my vagina as abnormal, and something to be fixed. The latter enabled me to develop a healthier relationship with my vagina and remove much of the anxiety and shame I felt, especially because I had someone who loved me working through the process with me.

And, a handout on dilation written by Anna (PDF)