Cervical Cancer

The role of vaginal dilators in cervical cancer treatment

December 1, 2023 Word for Word Media 0Comment

Dr Elna Rudolph underscores the profound importance of vaginal dilators for sexual health in cervical cancer treatment.

You can listen to this article below, or by using your favourite podcast player at pod.link/oncologybuddies

Navigating through cervical cancer treatment is a tumultuous journey filled with challenges that extend beyond medical procedures and hospital visits. One such challenge, which often receives less attention, is maintaining and caring for your sexual health during treatment. Radiation therapy, commonly utilised in cervical cancer treatment, often leads to vaginal stenosis. This is the narrowing and loss of flexibility of the vagina due to scar tissue and can make sexual intercourse, as well as routine gynaecological examinations, considerably painful and challenging.

Benefits of vaginal dilators

Vaginal silicone dilators emerge as a powerful tool in mitigating these adversities. They aid in gently stretching the vaginal tissues, helping maintain vaginal flexibility and length during the treatment process.

Implementing the use of silicone dilators during cancer treatment is an empowering act of self-care. It’s a proactive approach, allowing women to maintain a semblance of control over their bodies and sexual health in the midst of the often overwhelming cascade of cancer treatments.

The process is one of gradual adaptation, beginning with a size that feels manageable and comfortable, and progressively moving to larger sizes as the body adjusts.

Enhancing sexual comfort and well-being

In addition to the essential use of silicone dilators, there are other supportive practices to enhance sexual comfort and well-being during cervical cancer treatment. Lubricants, particularly those that are silicone-based, are indispensable. They can alleviate discomfort during sexual activities by reducing friction, fostering a more enjoyable and less painful experience.

It’s also worth mentioning the potential benefits of consulting a pelvic physiotherapist. Traditional pelvic floor exercises, or Kegels, might not always be suitable, as in some cases, they could exacerbate discomfort.

A specialised pelvic physiotherapist can offer personalised guidance and exercises that aim to improve pelvic floor function without causing additional distress.

Another important aspect of maintaining vaginal health is the use of vaginal moisturisers, such as Hydra V. Regular application of a gentle, hydrating moisturiser can help manage symptoms of dryness and irritation, improving overall comfort during sexual activities.

Communication, too, is a pillar of maintaining a fulfilling sexual life during treatment. Open dialogue with your partner about fears, boundaries, and desires fosters a supportiveand understanding environment. It allows for mutual navigation through the challenges, facilitating intimacy that aligns with each partner’s comfort and readiness. For personalised guidance and support in navigating these challenges, consider consulting a credible sexual health provider.

The must-haves

Silicone dilators, lubricants, pelvic physiotherapy, vaginal moisturisers, and heartfelt communication are essential practices in the journey through cervical cancer treatment. These tools and strategies stand as pillars that support, nurture, and empower women’s sexual health amidst the complexities of cervical cancer treatment. They pave the pathway for maintaining a sense of sexual integrity, comfort, and fulfilment during a profoundly challenging period, ensuring that women continue to embrace and celebrate their sexuality with grace and dignity.

Dr Elna Rudolph

MEET THE EXPERT – Dr Elna Rudolph

Dr Elna Rudolph is a medical doctor and the clinical head of My Sexual Health. She serves as the president of the World Association for Sexual Health, being the second woman and first African to hold this position. She is an executive board member and director of the South African Sexual Health Association and has contributed to the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

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cover 2024 BIG C Preparing for treatment