Vaginal Stenosis: What it Is, Common Causes and More

What is Vaginal Stenosis?

Vaginal stenosis is a narrowing, closing, or loss of flexibility of the vagina and vaginal opening. It is the side effect of radiation treatment, surgery to vagina, and sometimes hormone changes over the lifespan.

Many times, it is accompanied by dryness, scar tissue, and loss of mobility of the vaginal tissue.

Radiation to the pelvis and vagina is often performed to treat various forms of cancer. Radiation may be directed at the pelvic organs, including the bladder, bowel, uterus, ovaries, cervix, or to the vaginal tissue itself.

Radiation induced vaginal stenosis often leaves the skin and tissue around the vagina thinner, dry, less pliable, and oftentimes, painful.

Surgery to the area can leave scar tissue that has a similar affect. Surgery can affect the blood vessels, lymph nodes, and overall flexibility of the vaginal tissue.

Vaginal stenosis makes it difficult to receive vaginal penetration for medical examination and sex.

What to Do About Vaginal Stenosis

The good news is that there are steps that can be taken to help improve the elasticity of the vagina. Vaginal stenosis can be addressed by taking the following steps:

1. Use Vaginal Dilators

Use Vaginal Dilators (also referred to as Vaginal trainers) to gently stretch and improve the elasticity of the vagina. When a person is educated that it is safe to do so by a healthcare provider, vaginal dilator training can begin.

Choose a set that comes with progressive sizes to allow you to gently and progressively improve the depth and width of the vaginal opening after vaginal stenosis has occurred.

Training sessions include gently compressing the dilator into the opening of the vagina, holding for 30 seconds to a minute, moving around the vaginal opening like a clock.

Then, the dilator can be gently inserted into the vagina, and used to stretch and train the surrounding pelvic floor muscles to relax for improved ability to tolerate penetration.

Use Plenty of Lubrication

Use plenty of lubrication- this applies to daily hygiene, dilator use, and sexual use. Using a personal lubricant such as Intimate Rose’s velvet lubricant significantly improves comfort during dilator training and sex. 

At lease 1-2 tablespoons can be helpful, and additionally, lubricant can be injected into the vaginal vault by using a suspension dropper. Additionally, an organic balm such as Intimate Rose’s Enchanted Rose Balm can be used multiple times daily to help moisturize the vulva and entrance to the vagina.

This organic blend helps to sooth dry, irritated skin, just as a lip balm would to dry, chapped lips.

Do Daily Pelvic Floor Release Stretches

Do daily pelvic floor release stretches. Gentle stretching for pelvic floor muscle release compliments dilator training in helping to relax the muscles that share connection with the vaginal opening, which can help make penetration more comfortable.

For a gentle stretching routine, see this Guide to Pelvic Floor Release by doctor of physical therapy and certified pelvic floor specialist, Amanda Olson.

Use Vibration Therapy To Improve Blood Flow

Use vibration therapy to improve blood flow to the area. Gentle vibration can stimulate circulation and help soften scarred and radiated tissue when treatment finished. 

Vibrating wands can be used for vibration therapy. Ours was designed by pelvic physical therapist Amanda Olson to provide unique contour to allow for easy reach of both the superficial and deep aspects of the vagina and rectum.

The wand itself can be used to perform trigger point release of the pelvic floor muscles, as well as massage. It comes with 10 different frequencies of vibration which stimulate blood flow and helps to relax the tissue of the vagina and the pelvic floor muscles.

This effectively helps to regain elasticity of the vagina and promotes healing towards pain free sex.

Above all, remember that reversing vaginal stenosis is possible, however it takes time. Daily progress can be made to eventually restore some of the natural elasticity of the vagina for pain free penetration.