Anal Dilator Instructions: How to Use a Rectal Dilator Correctly

Anal Dilator Instructions: How to Use a Rectal Dilator Correctly

Anal Dilator Instructions

Finding out that you might be a candidate for anal dilation may at first feel intimidating or overwhelming. The process does require time and patience, but with proper anal dilator instructions, you can soon learn to care for your anorectal tissue. Over time, your anus or rectum will become wider.

Ahead, learn how you might benefit from using an anal dilator, and discover the basic steps of the dilation process.

When to Use Anal Dilators

Rectal dilators are used to widen the anal opening or the rectum. They can be used to address a variety of anorectal conditions, such as those below.

Stricture or Stenosis

Conditions in which the rectal or anal passage becomes narrow and tight are often called stricture or stenosis. Stricture is a common problem in people with Crohn's disease.

If the problem becomes severe enough, you may have trouble passing waste. This can lead to constipation, impaction or other colorectal disorders.

Dilation can serve as a non-surgical method for widening these passages. In one small study, several patients were able to improve their stenosis through a dilation regimen.

Hemorrhoids or Fissures

Hemorrhoids or fissures can induce spasms that tighten the anorectal tissue. Unfortunately, that can make the pain and discomfort of these conditions even worse. Dilation can provide relief. It can also make it easier for a doctor to perform treatments to address the underlying problems.

Post-surgical care

Anorectal problems often require surgical treatment. For example, adults may need to have surgery to remove serious hemorrhoids or heal a fissure. Surgeries to repair tissue or form a new anal opening are often performed on children with congenital anorectal malformations.

After surgery, dilation may be a necessary step in order for the tissue to heal properly. In the video below, learn about some of the anorectal concerns that may necessitate surgery and anal dilation. 

How to Perform Anal Dilation

Your doctor will provide detailed directions for how to perform dilation, but the following anal dilator instructions will give you an overview of the process.

Using Hot or Cold Therapy

Some dilators, such as SapiMed Dilitan anal dilators, are designed to maintain a consistent temperature for warm or cold use. If this sort of therapy would be beneficial for your condition, you should adjust the temperature of the instrument before preparing to insert it.

Swelling and bleeding are examples of conditions that can benefit from cold therapy. To get the instrument to the right temperature, place it in a bowl of ice water or set it in the fridge for up to 15 minutes. Be careful not to let the dilator get below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Muscles spasms and anal stenosis can benefit from heat therapy. For this, you can soak the dilator in warm water for up to 15 minutes. The water should not be hotter than about 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Preparing for Insertion

It is important to apply lubricant to the dilator before attempting to insert it into the body. A cream designed specifically for dilator use or a water-soluble lubricant is best. Use the solution to thoroughly coat the end that will be inserted.

If your muscles are tight – or you simply feel tense – soaking in a bit of warm water can help get you ready to put the dilator in.

When you're ready to get started, sit on a bidet or on your bed. If you are using the dilator on a child, you can have him lie on his side or back. His knees should be against his chest so that he's in a "frog-leg" position.

Inserting the Dilator

When you're ready to put the rectal dilator in place, push it in slowly. You will probably notice resistance, and you may need to push through this until the dilator gets to a position in which it slides more easily.

Some dilators have a mark that indicates how far you should insert them. Others have a base, and you can push the instrument in until you reach the base.

Stay still while the dilator is in place. Don't try to walk around.

Withdrawing the Dilator

Your doctor will tell you how long to leave the tool in your rectum. In some cases, you may need to perform two rounds of dilation, each just 30 seconds long. Other cases may require leaving the dilator in place for a few minutes.

Just as you pushed the device in slowly, you should also remove it slowly.

Repeat the dilation process twice a day.

Cleaning the Tool

After performing dilation, it is important to thoroughly clean the dilator. Wash it with soap and water. As an extra measure, the dilation tool can be soaked in a medical disinfecting solution. Be sure to wash your hands also.

No matter how well you clean the instrument, you should not share it with anyone else. Dilators are typically designed for use by only one person.

Increasing the Size

You will gradually start using larger dilators until the anus and rectum are sufficiently widened. Your doctor may have you increase to a new size once weekly. Alternatively, you may receive instruction to switch when your current size becomes easy to insert.

Changing sizes can be painful for a few days until your body becomes accustomed to the new size. You may also notice a bit of bleeding. Contact your doctor if either of these side effects seems excessive.

Weaning from Use

Once you have achieved the desired width, you can look forward to reducing your use of dilators, but you shouldn't stop suddenly. Continue daily dilation for at least a month.

At the end of the month, your doctor may provide a schedule by which you can wean yourself off of dilation. This process may take several additional months to complete.

If inserting the instrument becomes difficult during this time, you will need to return to more frequent dilation for a period of time. Once your pain, bleeding or tightness goes away, you can start weaning yourself off the dilators again.

To reap the benefits of anal dilation, you must stick with the process until full results are achieved. At first, it might seem difficult to learn this new skill and get into a good routine with it, but you will soon find yourself becoming comfortable with the process. The above guide to anal dilator instructions can help you get started.

To get in touch with a doctor who uses SapiMed Dilitan dilators, use our Find a Doctor tool.

As with all medical issues, your physician is the ultimate source as to what procedure best fits your needs. Discuss all options and get a second opinion if you have any doubts. These articles are intended to be a source of general information only.

Brian Chandler