Thursday, May 12, 2016

Vaginal atrophy? Tight pelvic floor muscles? FeMani®Vibrating Massage Wand can help.


5/15/2016: I have updated a previous 2010 review of vaginal dilators, now that the FeMani®Vibrating Massage Wand is available. I've also added some wonderful wisdom from Ellen Barnard.   

Women write to me that after a long period of celibacy, they find someone they want to have sex with again. Often they didn't think they would discover love/lust again after so many years.

Their elation dims when they attempt penetration and discover that their vaginas feel too dry and fragile for comfort if they try to accept a penis (or sometimes even fingers).

There are several reasons that vaginal fragility, tightness, discomfort, or pain can happen (which I discuss in my books, Naked at Our Age and The Ultimate Guide to Sex after 50). With age, especially if you're sexually inactive, the vaginal tissues thin and there's less blood flow to the genitals, causing dryness and fragility, known as vaginal atrophy. A separate but related problem is that the pelvic floor can lose its ability to relax, and in its contracted state, the vaginal opening feels too tight to admit a penis or a larger-than-slim sex toy.

Here's how Ellen Barnard, co-owner of A Woman's Touch sexuality resource center, helps women distinguish between menopause-related vaginal dryness and atrophy and "high tone pelvic floor dysfunction" that can be caused by the lack of blood flow to the genitals after menopause:

If you feel like your skin is very dry, fragile and tears easily then you have vaginal dryness and atrophy. You may experience tearing during penetrative sex and find a little bit of pink discharge after sex. If you feel like the skin is stretching or tearing at the opening of the vagina that is another sign of vaginal atrophy. A good quality, long lasting lubricant relieves your symptoms, and the Vaginal Renewal program will provide further relief and comfort both during daily activities and during sex.

If you engage in penetrative sex and your partner feels like they "hit a wall" either at the opening of the vagina or about 1-1/2 inches inside, or you feel pain deep inside the vagina with deeper penetration you may have an over-tight pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is made up of 3 layers of muscles. After menopause, those muscles can tighten up and not relax because there is not enough blood going to them once estrogen is no longer present. 

If this happens to you then your first step is to see a pelvic floor therapist and get an evaluation of your pelvic floor muscles. If you have over-tight muscles the therapist can work with you to get them relaxed and learn appropriate exercises so you can consciously relax them once the therapy is over. The Vaginal Renewal program may or may not help your pelvic floor muscles, so it is important to get additional help if the description above sounds like what happens to you.

Please download the Vaginal Renewal program from the wonderful folks at A Woman's Touch sexuality resource center, and put it into action for the sake of your sexual health and future joy.

Part of this program is at least one orgasm a week (you don't need a partner for that!) and internal massage using vibration. Yes, really. Internal massage with vibration brings blood flow to the vagina and helps strengthen the tissues. If you're so tight that insertion hurts, slim wands (a.k.a. dilators) will help. These start very slim and progress in graduated sizes as your body adapts and is able to accept more. Barnard adds,

A set of dilators may be used to treat the involuntary tightening of the outermost layer of the pelvic floor that happens with a condition called vaginismus, or when you have high tone pelvic floor dysfunction (over tightening of the pelvic floor muscles that surround the vagina) in the outermost, middle and/or deep layers of the pelvic floor. You would work with a pelvic floor therapist to use the dilators to help you learn how to relax with progressively larger dilators inside the vagina. This work may be accompanied by other work such as psychotherapy when the tightening is caused by pain or trauma; meditation; and relaxation breathing in the case of high tone pelvic floor dysfunction.


It used to be a hassle to even find vaginal dilators, but A Woman's Touch has done the research and development and created FDA-registered, therapeutic vibrating wands that are ideal for the Vaginal Renewal program:


Sizes 2 and 1
The FeMani Vibrating Massage Wand is made of smooth, durable, medical-grade ABS plastic and comes in three graduated widths: Size 1 (3/4" diameter), Size 2 (1" diameter), and Size 3 (1-3/8" diameter).

Order two sizes in a kit with one silicone controller (detachable handle that controls the vibrations). These vibrating wands use AAA or AA batteries (included), depending on the size.

To figure out the size that's right for you, A Woman's Touch recommends this:


Determine how many lubricated fingers you can insert into your vagina when you are not aroused. For one finger, choose the 1 & 2 set, for two fingers choose the 2 & 3 set. If you are unsure or between sizes, we recommend choosing the smaller choice, which will still provide the beneficial massage without the potential strain or discomfort of being too big.


Using vibrating wands is a process for your own sexual health and the health of a relationship you might have now or in the future--and it can be extremely pleasurable, besides!



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7 comments:

  1. I have been using the Berman set to help the fact that sex hurt since I've been in menopause. The good news is I've been able to use the largest size and it only took me 2 times to get up there. The problem is that the largest size is not even close to the size of my boyfriend's penis. We tried a sex toy that is closer to his size and it killed me. So my question is what does one do if the largest Berman size isn't close to the size of the real penis they want?

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  2. Anonymous, have you had your pain diagnosed? That's the first step. Also, download the Vaginal Renewal Program that I recommended. That's not just dilators, it's a whole step-by-step program. Meanwhile, pleasure each other in the many sexy ways that don't involve penetration. I have a whole chapter on vaginal pain in my new book, The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50, with recommendations of other sexual pain books that are very good. Don't give up, ok?

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  3. My gynecologist said I'm fine. It's only that many women after menopause have issues due to thinning skin. I'm one of them. I want to be able to have sex with my boyfriend, so my goal of writing here is to find out what to do after Berman dilator 4 has no issues. I need a larger one to get to having real sex with my boyfriend again.

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    Replies
    1. You might ask your gynecologist whether the Estring vaginal estrogen ring might be right for you. You can also use regular vibrating dildos if the dilators are not large enough. All of the sex shops I link to have dildos of many sizes.

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    2. I am always a bit skeptical when a gynecologist says, "You're fine. It's only . . ." You know you are not "fine". I have worked with women with vaginismus. Vaginismus, after all the physiological issues have been cleared is generally responsive to psychotherapy, but that can include certain biofeedback equipment under direction of a trained sex therapist. You are beyond the stage of the plain dilators, so Joan's recommendations take that into account. But don't bypass the TENS and biofeedback possibilities. They have no negative side-effects.

      Follow Joan's recommendation, but don't accept "You're fine." You are not fine if you are not getting what you want. I've become highly skeptical of physicians who dismiss women's symptoms (Including female gynecologists). (The same thing happens to men with urologists. Many physicians learn about plumbing, but not about sex. Physicians have their own issues with sex. Also medicine has become very complex and there just aren't enough years to get it all in. So I don't blame the physician.

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  4. AnonymousJuly 01, 2015

    I had my physical therapist suggest vaginally dilators for my internal pain with endometriosis and the fact that my pelvic floor muscles are very tight and I carry high tone. I need something that I can use to help stretch and relax different areas internally. Would you suggest either of these dilators or possibly a different device? Thank you.

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    Replies
    1. Try the ones recommended here (you'll have to copy and paste the long link):
      https://sexualityresources.com/search?search_api_views_fulltext_op=AND&search_api_views_fulltext=vaginal+renewal

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