An Endometriosis Patient’s Guide to Sex

An Endometriosis Patient’s Guide to Sex

Learn how endo can get in the way of sex and what you can do about it.

Endometriosis can have a negative impact on a person’s quality of life—especially when it comes to sex. Endo symptoms can make it a challenge to have sex, enjoy sex or feel sexy. Here, we’ll look at some of these symptoms, as well as tips for overcoming these challenges for a better and healthier sex life.

Get diagnosed—and treated
The first step to addressing any symptom or health condition is to see a healthcare provider to receive an accurate diagnosis. Endo is no exception. If you have symptoms of endo (many of which will be discussed here), talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms. Seek a second opinion if necessary. While awareness about endo continues to improve, there are still many unknowns, and many women have spent years (and visited a number of healthcare providers) before getting an accurate diagnosis. While there is no cure for endo, there are treatment options that can help reduce symptoms and prevent complications.

Endo symptoms
Endo can cause a wide variety of pain. Pain in the pelvis, lower back pain, abdominal pain, pain while going to the bathroom, painful periods and pain during and/or after sex are all possible. Additionally, endo can cause a number of symptoms that can leave a person feeling unsexy or not in the mood, such as fatigue, nausea, heavy menstrual bleeding, spotting, bleeding between periods, constipation, bloating and diarrhea. Understand that everyone’s experience with endo is a little different—not every patient will have every symptom, and the severity of symptoms will vary.

Painful sex
The medical term for painful sex is dyspareunia. Why does endo cause painful sex? It has to do with endometrial tissue. This tissue is similar to the tissue that lines the uterus, but it grows and attaches to places outside the uterus. Depending on where this tissue is growing, it can be pulled, pushed or stretched during penetration or other sexual activity that focuses on the pelvic area, which causes pain. Some hormonal treatments for endo can cause vaginal dryness, which can also make sex painful.

If you are experiencing pain during sex, it is important to discuss this symptom with your gynecologist. In order to effectively treat the condition, a healthcare provider needs to know about all your symptoms, even symptoms that can be embarrassing or upsetting to discuss.

Tips for better sex with endo
While endo can make sex a challenge, there are ways to overcome this challenge. Remember that sex is an important part of physical, mental and emotional health, and an important aspect of intimate relationships. Try these tips for better, healthier sex with endo:

  • Communicate. It’s important to communicate with your partner about endo and how it makes you feel (emotionally as well as physically), what feels good, what doesn’t feel good and what you need. It’s also important to listen to your partner and understand what they are thinking and feeling.
  • Try different positions. Some positions may be more comfortable than others, particularly positions where penetration is shallow and that do not apply a lot of pressure on the pelvis.
  • Use lube. The more slippery things are, the less friction. This might help lessen the pushing, pulling and stretching that can result in pain. It’s also a must for anyone experiencing dryness.
  • Choose the right time. Endo symptoms can vary throughout the menstrual cycle. Keeping track of your symptoms can help you recognize patterns, which may help you pick the best days of the month to have sex.
  • Experiment. Humans are capable of a wide variety of sexual activity. When one type of sex isn’t a possibility, try another.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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