Saturday, August 3, 2013


I haven't written a post like this one in a while.  But part of the problem is that if nobody talks some of this stuff publicly it nobody realizes that they're not the only one....

The topic today is "Dilating".  It means different things to different people, but to transwomen it has a very specific definition.  It's something that begins within minutes of your surgeon unpacking your newly-created body-part a week or so after vaginoplasty. For the first several weeks afterwards it consumes your life.  And then.....well....that's what this post is about.

I remember the first time.  My surgeon was Dr. Eugene Schrang in Neenah, WI.  My SRS date was August 10, 2000....13 years ago next week.  Some parts of my SRS experienced are forever burned into my memory.  Like the "prep" the evening before, being wheeled into the OR before surgery, first dilation.

After surgery there is a timeline of what happens when.  One of the most significant was the unveiling - the "Ta-da" moment on Day 5 post-op when Dr. Schrang himself took off the outer bandages that had been in place since surgery and sat down between my spread legs.  Until that moment, I hadn't seen what was under all the dressing that had been down there.  The amazing reality is that what had been there for the first 40 years of my life was gone.

In it's place was a new body part - one I had dreamed about, wondered about, and never dared to imagine would become a reality for me.  I had convinced myself at that point that the surgery was no big deal.  I had lived for a full year as Donna and didn't want to dwell on the possibility that a body part could define a person.  But SRS was far more profound than I ever imagined in more ways than I can explain.

I digress....back to the unpacking.  Dr. Schrang began pulling out what felt like a mile of gauze that had been inside me.  It was crazy.  When he finally finished he introduced me to my new best and most intimate friends....5 straight white missile-shaped dilators with girths ranging from a half-inch or so to well over an inch.  Each one had a number.

Without stopping he grabbed the middle sized dilator (#3), put some lube in it, and started to slowly but steadily pushed it deep into me.    When I first saw it I thought he was going to split me in  half, and that it would be excruciating, but it wasn't.  It was good.  As he pushed he explained what was happening, as this was something I'd need to do myself 5 times a day to start.

It was amazing.  It was a sensation I had never felt before.  He only left it in for a couple of minutes before slowly pulling it out (another new sensation) and leaving we with care instructions for my new body part.  I followed his instructions to the letter.

The first weeks after SRS could be divided into 4 parts.  Preparing to dilate, dilating, cleaning up from dilating, and sleeping.  In the years since I've known people who set their alarms to get up in the middle of the night to dilate - I didn't do that.  But in order to maintain depth and width as things heal it's very important to follow a disciplined regimen.  I did.

There were interesting fluids coming out for quite a while.  At the beginning, there were definitely signs of blood.  As time went on it became pink, and the slow but steady flow eventually became a trickle became spotty over a number of weeks...and then stopped.  Thank God for panty liners.

I'm a goal oriented person, so my goal was to get to the point where I could dilate with the 5th, and largest, dilator.  At the beginning I had a hard time getting #3 back in....when Dr. Schrang did it things were still stretched out so it went in pretty easily.  Not so when I did it.  But slowly, over weeks of constant attempts, I got there.

As I moved up in size it hurt.  I popped a couple of stitches in my perineal tissue along the way.  The hardest part was getting past that curve of the pelvic bone.  When I first started it would get raw and sore  there.  Eventually, I got a set of curved dilators with rounded tips that made it less uncomfortable.  Some would think that it would be a pleasant sensation.  It wasn't.  It just needed to be done.

I had it down to a ironing board next to my bed with a small dish of mineral oil (Dr. Schrang recommended it since it wouldn't cause a suction when pulling the dilator out), some KY, a washcloth and some paper towels, and my 5 white dilators in a row by ascending size.  And a phone....I usually passed the time with a dilator in one hand and a phone in the other.

Fast forward a year.  Life goes one, and dilating changes from something that consumes your days to something you do once a week or so depending on circumstances.  The goal is to keep it open, and I certainly can't speak for anyone but me but dilating sometimes became an afterthought.  I wasn't all that interested in guys so the need to keep it "ready" really wasn't a motivator.

Fast forward another year, or two, or three.  Dilating became sporadic.  I lost depth, and width.  And I grew to hate those hard, white, cold things.  So, it got to a point where I could count the number of times I'd dilate in any calendar year on two hands.

When I lived in Scottsdale and was working with Dr. Meltzer's patients we had discussions about this.  Linda, his office manager, had found some soft, rubber (or silicone) dilators (see link).  I started with a couple of them, and they were much more appropriate for me at that stage of my life.

Today - I still dilate.  I did it this morning.  It's better now than it was a year or two ago.  Sometimes, it's actually even pleasant (to be discussed in some future entry to be titled "Orgasms").  I haven't used those straight, white dilators for many years, or their curved clear counterparts.  They're in a shoebox back home.

Today I use the latex ones that Dr. Meltzer's office recommended.  That's all I've got here, and I do it every couple of weeks.  I'm nowhere near fitting the largest couple of sizes in the set,  but that's not my goal anymore.  Much of the depth I've lost is irretrievable.  That's ok, too, since it's done.  It all fits into my world.

This story is not unique.  I know I'm not alone, and that many post-op women who rarely, if ever, dilate.  There are many reasons, but I'd suggest that it's much more common than not.  Of course, it depends on what you use it for.  For me, though, it became a matter of time, convenience, comfort, and need.  As I approach my 13th RebirthDay....I've got that balance in all the above.

Now - out to enjoy my Saturday.  :)


Cassidy said...

Thank you for posting this, Donna. I am a long way from this being applicable to me, but this is invaluable information.

Thank you again.

== Cass

Lucy Melford said...

I'm two and a half years post-op, and continue to dilate twice a week with a 38mm dilator. It must seem a bit odd to some, because I'm not sexually active and have no definite plans to be. It's therefore very much a 'just in case' thing, and also I suppose that having spent so much on obtaining this female anatomy, I am reluctant to let it waste away. Also I am a great one for keeping to established medical routines, and it's become a twice-weekly habit. Habit helps.

But I know what you are talking about. Early in my transition I came across a person who had entirely lost the 'use' of her vagina because she stopped dilating. And it inhibited her from seeking a partner. I promised myself that would never happen to me. So far, so good.


Anonymous said...

I hated dilating until I discovered that men, young, hard men, make excellent, efficient and extremely pleasant dilators. Now I love dilating.


paintsnfun said...

I'm 8 years post GRS and love the "new" parts that Marci Bowers gave me. She did a fantastic job. I'm so natal appearing. I date off and on. Guys are great dilators. I had one experience where the guy was just too big to fit, but that wasn't due to the surgery; it was due to the shape of my pelvic bones. (And he was enormous!)
I dilate about once or twice a week. Instead of rigid straight lucite dilators I was given in the hospital, I use a slightly larger than average male sized dildo because it has the natural curvature that seems to work well. Some of my dilating sessions are just that: routine maintenance. Some of them turn into fun sessions. Marci leaves a small part of the erectile tissue inside which becomes our equivalent of a g-spot. And pressure of the dilator (or the real thing) is incredibly pleasant. I am more orgasmic with vaginal penetration than clitoral. The clitoral ones are usually milder, less intense and can happen multiple times. The vaginal ones are unbelievable strong and usually single. And much better than my old life. Sorry if that's TMI.

paintsnfun said...

I have one friend who virtually never dilated after she left the hospital. I'm not sure why.

About a year later, to her surprise, she found herself in a relationship with a guy. They were never able to have penetrative sex because she had lost all of her width and depth. They broke up, but I don't know if that was the reason. Last I heard, she'd never had sex.

I have mixed feelings about this. I have read reports that state a certain percentage of postop women never use their vaginas. I'm sure there are multiple reasons for that. Maybe some of us are just glad to have the right anatomy now and that's all that's important. We feel complete and "right". On the other hand, it seems like so much pain and expense to go through and then never use it. Kinda like buying a new Porsche and parking it in the garage and never driving to have and nice to look at but what's the point?
I've reached the age and stage of my life where I doubt I'll end up in a long term relationship. My life is like Donna talked about earlier. I've grown accustomed to being alone, enjoy that freedom, and am tired of having to deal with disclosure. I'm happy. I love my life and love being a woman. I have a wonderful family and that's plenty enough for me.

Gwen said...

Talk about an apropos post!!!
Here, 3 years to the day, post-op, I was wondering whether I was the only one still doing it (so many sisters said the long ago grew tired and gave up...)

I am faithfully doing it every Saturday morning and looking forward to 2016, when I planned on going to once a month, instead of once a week. This really puts a "crimp" in your schedule. (sigh)
It felt good that I decided to skip it this past week for a birthday present, still wondering whether I was the only one still doing it. Glad to hear that someone else is still soldering on.

I have thought about the silicone ones, but thought that it would be cheating --- so have only used them rarely, more as a curiosity --- they go in much too naturally and easily -- so I keep going back to the delrin ones.

Funny you mention the pubic bone. I had to visit my urologist for a corrective procedure to damage resulting from my "hysterectomy" back in '97 (that's how it's listed in my medical records --- honest! -- Dr DiMaggio in Buenos Aires was the first to annotate it as such, and all physicians since ran with it!). Anyway, the urologist thrust a finger into my vagina, and hit the bone. "You don't have much depth, do you?"
I don't know, I DO loose the better part of the dilator during every use!!

Anyway, do did just make my day. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

"... it seems like so much pain and expense to go through and then never use it. Kinda like buying a new Porsche and parking it in the garage and never driving to have and nice to look at but what's the point?"

Indeed. I strongly urge all you ladies out there to get out there and, "Ride 'em, cowgirl!"

So many men. So little time.


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