Many women with endometriosis experience pain during intercourse; but that doesn’t mean you should avoid intercourse.
Here are a few solutions that will help make sex satisfying again.
According to a recent study by researchers in Italy, more than half of all women with endometriosis experience intense pain during sex. What’s more, women who have such pain have a difficult time talking about the problem with their partners, making it even more frustrating.
Some women are even too embarrassed to talk about sexual pain with their ob-gyns. But because pain during sex is often an early sign of endometriosis, letting it go unchecked can mean a delay in diagnosis and treatment.
Endometriosis occurs when the type of tissue normally lining the uterus (the endometrium) starts growing outside the uterus. It’s the location rather than the size of the endometriosis lesions that typically determines the amount of pain you may feel during sex. If the endometriosis is behind the vagina and the lower part of the uterus and is affecting uterine nerves or ligaments, it’s likely to cause more pain as sexual thrusting pushes and pulls the growths.
The pain can vary from mild to unbearable, from sharp and stabbing to deep and widespread. You might feel pain with penetration of any kind, or with only very deep penetration. Worse still is that the pain can last beyond intercourse itself, for up to two days in some women.
Just thinking about having sex can start the cycle of pain. When there’s pain during intercourse, over a period of time, tension plays a big role. A woman anticipates pain, which creates a difficult emotional state. You’re anxious to please your partner, but fearful of post-coital pain. The tendency is to tense up, and sex becomes more painful even with superficial penetration.
3 Strategies for More Pleasurable Sexual
You and your partner can take steps to ease the pain of intercourse.
* Try other positions. The old fashioned missionary position is the most painful — the uterus is tilted at its most posterior aspect, so it hurts the most. Side to side and doggy style positions are a little bit more comfortable because of the angle at which the penis enters. If you have a hard time finding a position that feels enjoyable, try alternatives to intercourse such as kissing, massage, and mutual fondling.
* Pick the right times of the month. Intercourse may be less painful at certain times during your menstrual cycle . If you’re like the many women who tend to have mid-cycle pain (during ovulation), your window of opportunity may be from the last day of your period until just before ovulation, then again after ovulation until a few days before your next period begins.
* Keep the lines of communication open. Your first instinct might be to hide your pain, but for your own comfort and the health of your relationship, that’s not a good long-term solution. Your partner could misinterpret your lack of interest and enjoyment, putting even more of a strain on your relationship. For a lot of women, the partner doesn’t believe them or doesn’t understand why they’re hurting. They’ll say, ‘How bad could it be?’ This empowers the patient — they can say ‘This is something real; I’m not making this up.’ For the partner, it educates them, helps them get involved in the decision making process of ‘Do you want to try medicine?’ or ‘Are we going to have to do surgery?’ If your partner won’t communicate or be part of the process, bringing in a friend or family member who can provide support.
If these changes aren’t enough to improve your sex life, medical treatments may help. Talk to your doctor about birth control pills or other hormone therapies to diminish the size of the endometriosis lesions. In severe cases, several studies have shown that surgery to remove lesions can lessen the magnitude of painful intercourse and improve the quality of a woman’s sex life.
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