A rectal dilator is a manual medical tool designed to help train the anus to relax to a greater degree. People use the instrument to treat issues such as constipation and hemorrhoids, as well as to reduce pain during anal intercourse. Although a person can purchase a set of dilators discretely online, obtaining and using a set with medical supervision is ideal. The devices have been in use at least since the turn of the 20th century, with early doctors making benefits claims well beyond what the dilators actually do. Modern doctors and manufacturers are more careful with their advertising and have proven the effectiveness of dilators for anal stretching through scientific research.
In terms of physical construction, rectal dilators are made of washable, semi-flexible or solid materials such as plastic. One end of the tool is rounded, while the other curves outward and is flattened into a cuff for easy gripping and control. A good dilator always contains a small hole at each end, which allows air to escape from the rectal canal and eliminates pressure buildup. The tool length is proportional to its circumference, with wider dilators being longer. The sensitivity and delicate structure of the rectum requires that the instrument be smooth to prevent tearing or other injury.
To use a rectal dilator, a person applies a personal, water-based lubricant to the tool and inserts it slowly into the anus. Doing this while on one's side or while facing downward is recommended because it reduces the amount of pressure felt and makes reaching down a little easier. After use, the individual removes the dilator and washes it. At first, a person might need to use the dilator once every day, but over time, this can be reduced to once or twice weekly.
The degree to which a person needs to relax the anus varies. Additionally, it can be painful to use an instrument that is overly large at the first point in treatment. Subsequently, manufacturers produce rectal dilators in sets, with each set having three to six tools. The user starts with the smallest size, moving through the larger instruments as he becomes comfortable.
An individual uses a rectal dilator for two major reasons. The first is that he has a medical condition or psychological hindrance that causes the anus to remain too tight when the person tries to have a bowel movement. This can lead to abdominal discomfort, pain while defecating and hemorrhoids from straining. The second reason is that a person wishes to train the anus to relax during anal intercourse.
Regardless of which reason a person needs a rectal dilator, cultural influences can cause people to feel somewhat embarrassed about using one — depending on their background, a person may regard inserting anything into the anus as taboo or "dirty." Physicians view a rectal dilator as a medical instrument and see the pain relief available, however, even if it is used to aid sex acts. Individuals who need one these tools thus should not be afraid to seek physician assistance in obtaining a set. In fact, using the dilators under medical supervision is ideal, as the physician can monitor the patient's relaxation progress and underlying conditions.