Need for anal dilator

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Hi… 8 weeks post treatment and I’ve only just found out that potentially I should be using an anal dilator… at hospital week 4 of chemoradiotherapy I was given a vaginal dilator with reasons explained but no mention that same can occur in the anus! No idea why this wouldn’t have been discussed/told me about this given that non use could lead to surgery and stoma!

is anyone here in the dark? Or in the light? Any advice greatfukky received before it’s too late!

thank you 

  • Hello Magmoo

    I may be wrong but I have never heard of anyone being advised to use an anal dilator during treatment.  That isn't to say that anal stenosis (narrowing of the back passage) doesn't happen, it has certainly happened to me but it has never led to a total blockage which required a stoma.  There are quite a few of us who take great care to ensure that our stools are always very soft and consequently they can be passed without straining.  I take great care to avoid constipation, but even on the very rare occasions (perhaps twice in the last 17 months) when I have been I have managed to sort myself out with laxatives and prune juice.

    I saw a colorectal surgeon a couple of months ago and he confirmed stenosis, he said it could be treated (stretched) under general anaesthetic but because there can be scar tissue after radiotherapy it could shrink again without using a dilator frequently.  That was the first time an anal dilator had been mentioned to me.  I haven't made my mind up yet, I think my backside has seen enough trauma to last a lifetime!

    I would ask your oncologist on your next visit, but if it is worrying you and your next appointment is some time away, call them to check.

    I know that some people don't have anal stenosis and are back to normal, hopefully this will be the same for you.

    Irene xx

  • Hi Mag,

    I've for sure got some anal stenosis going on, and mine was teensy to start with (judging from the howling I did when I got an anoscopy prior to diagnosis.) I had to get an EUA in order for my gastroenterologist to get a good look in there. 

    I can't imagine trying to use a dilator for a good while after treatment. It's been over a year and I still use the bidet and gentle patting after bowel movements, My butt is turning somersaults at the very thought. 

    But if there's a chance that one's anus might narrow to the point of uselessness, it does sound better than surgery. Is that what they're saying? Is it still very difficult to pass stools?

    I'd thought of dilators more for making ilfe easier in general than staving off a stoma!


  • Hi  ,

    I’ve also never heard of anyone being given anal dilators, not to say the information you’ve been given is wrong.

    I’m a little over 5 years post treatment & still couldn’t imagine going down that route! I’ve just gotten to the point of being able to have a bowel movement without the use of stool softeners but different foodstuffs can still make this difficult on times.

    Due to the location of our cancer & the radiotherapy we all come away from this with some anal stenosis (& varying degrees of vaginal stenosis for us girls!), mine was quite bad but has definitely improved over time & I think more so since I’ve stopped the softeners. Like Irene has said in her reply my colorectal surgeon mentioned briefly about the stretching under anaesthetic but it also has its complications, it wasn’t for me so I just continued with stool softeners gradually reducing them over a period of time. 


  • Thank you for your reply although the thought of years dreading the loo isn’t great think I agree re the stretching!!

    thanks again x

  • Hi yes instead of surgery they used it for. It does make sense when I think about it but like you the thought leaves me cold!!

    think I’ll continue with the stool softeners… and hope no further closing Fingers crossed got scans in 4 weeks so will see what they show up

    thank you for taking the time to reply x

  • Thank you Irene. It’s reassuring to hear that hopefully over time things can get better without surgery or a dilator!

    scans are in 4 weeks time… my first lot so may yet have bigger fish to fry but trying to stay positive 

    thank you x

  • MagMoo

    The scanxiety is very real and something we all live with.  I will be thinking of you and hoping all goes well - please let us know.

    Irene x

  • Very real!! Thank you and I will x

  • Hello  

    Congratulations on finishing your treatment!!. I am 2 years post treatment (I was Stage III) and so far all good! I do however have a lot of stenosis and after examination we agreed that stretching it under anaesthetic may prove too delicate and damage the tissue.

    i wrote about this some time ago in here and found too that not many people had experienced this and no one had tried a dilator. So I said I’d try one and get back to them. I bleed very easily there because I still have some active radiation damage as well as the stenosis. 

    I have found using a series of silicone dilators (expensive but worth it) and some organic coconut oil has helped enormously. It’s never going to be perfect but it has helped comfort wise and I find going to the loo a bit easier than it was!  Apparently you can use your finger with the oil to massage the stenosis (scar tissue) inside too and many people find moderate success with that but I find the silicone dilator easier and you can just slowly go up the sizes. 

    However (yup there’s always a however), it has to be done regularly and probably forever  I’m not great and I often forget so I could be more proactive! In fact you’ve just spurred me on to get back with it  because it is worth it! 

    I purchased the “Inspire Silicone Dilators” from amazon (they do same day delivery) £47:99 (start small and work your way up). 

    I hope that helps  best wishes

    PPR x 

  • Should also say that I have found Instillagel (topical anaesthetic) that comes in a syringe has also been unbelievably helpful! GP can prescribe it for you and you can buy it online. Get the larger size 11ml. Literally couldn’t live without this on agony days! I pop a bit up before a bowel movement and can also use with dilators. Although the oil helps soften the stenosis so once your not in pain do use the oil for stretching.

    Honestly one of the best things I’ve had in my armoury for pain!!! Xx