If you’ve been diagnosed with endometriosis, you may be worried about what it means for your sex life. Can endometriosis and sex co-exist, or will you have to move into the woods and give up on intercourse entirely?
Don’t let your sex life go without a fight! Before you start packing, we have some tips you can try to help keep sex the fun, pleasurable experience it deserves to be.
How Does Endometriosis Impact Sex and Intimacy?
The World Health Organization classifies endometriosis as a “chronic disease” with “severe, life-impacting” symptoms. We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg regarding research on the condition. Although we know a lot more than we used to, there is still so much to learn about why endometriosis occurs and how it may impact the mind and the body.
Because endometriosis directly affects the uterus, it can mean changes to sex and intimacy—both on your own and with your partner. The condition can trigger pelvic pain, which can happen randomly and with intercourse as sexual pain, irregular bleeding, hormonal issues, and depression. These factors can really kill your sexual desire while also causing downright painful intercourse (dyspareunia).
It’s impossible to say exactly how an endo diagnosis will impact you or your sexual function. Please know that you’re not alone—up to 10 percent of people with a uterus across the globe are estimated to have been diagnosed with the condition.
Research is ongoing, and the more we know, the more we can help people with endometriosis continue to live normal, happy lives (while still getting it on regularly).
What Does Sex With Endometriosis Feel Like?
Everyone’s experience with endometriosis and sex will vary, as the condition occurs in “stages.” There’s no one-size-fits-all description of what it may feel like to have sex after diagnosis, but chances are that you’ll notice pelvic or vaginal pain while being intimate. This pain can be sharp or dull, sudden or constant, or even immediately after orgasm.
And those are only just the physical symptoms of endometriosis and sexual intercourse. The condition can also take a toll on you emotionally.
It can be challenging to relax and enjoy yourself while getting intimate with your partner if you’re afraid of it hurting, making you want to avoid sex entirely. These feelings are normal, but they don’t need to stop you from maintaining a healthy sex life.
How To Boost Your Sex Life After an Endometriosis Diagnosis
Any new diagnosis can be scary and throw everything you thought you knew into the air, but endometriosis doesn’t have to mean the end of your active, fulfilling sex life. While you may have to make adjustments, there are absolutely ways to deal with the symptoms so that you can stay as intimate with your partner as you want. Don’t forget to talk to your doctor about your concerns, as they may have additional options available.
Make Time for Foreplay
Many people with endometriosis deal with chronic pelvic pain, which can get so bad that they give up on having orgasms with their partner altogether. However, instead of throwing in the towel, don’t forget that penetrative sex isn’t the only way to be intimate!
Make plenty of time to explore foreplay with your partner, and even make it the star of the show. Mutual masturbation and oral sex are excellent alternatives to traditional foreplay, and you can put the spotlight on your pleasure without as much concern about painful sex from penetration.
Plus, if you do decide to proceed to full-on penis-in-vagina banging, you’ll be warmed up and ready to go. (Pro tip: try our Awaken + Lube Bundle to help support your arousal and comfort, penetration or no penetration).
Try Different Positions
Depending on your stage of endometriosis and where your adhesions are, you may need to try different sex positions to minimize penetration depth. Experiment with a few and see which feel the best and cause the least pain.
Staying away from positions known for super-deep penetration, like doggy-style or cowgirl, can help. Stick with shallow (although still super pleasurable) ones, like the missionary position, or even offer to jump on top so that you can control how deep your partner can go.
You can also try various sex toys and sexual aids (like our Intimacy Melts) to help you relax and increase your pleasure. While you may not want to give up deep penetration, using a vibrator while you and your partner try a less intense position can be just as satisfying.
Track Your Cycle
Your menstrual cycle is inherently tied to your endometriosis pain experience. While many uterus-owners have cramps with their period, endometriosis cramps are on a whole other level.
Unfortunately, menstruation can be unpredictable with this condition, and pain can happen several times of the month (even during ovulation). Tracking your cycle can help you get a better handle on what is happening inside your body when you experience pain so that you can also find better times to get it on when your pain level is low.
Keep in mind that many people with endometriosis also deal with at least a little bit of bleeding after intercourse. Make sure to let your partner know, so they don’t worry about hurting you if they see any blood afterward.
This bleeding is related to irritation of the already sensitive endometrial tissue and is not a sign of injury (unless accompanied by sudden, severe pain).
Endometriosis can mess with your hormones, which can make physical arousal tricky. Plus, if you’re super worried about pain, it’s much harder to get in the mood even if you really want it.
While lube won’t make your pain go away, it can help reduce the potential for friction during penetration. Using plenty of lube during foreplay and before your partner even thinks about penetrating you can help you feel more comfortable—and it’s a lot more fun!
Remember, using lube doesn’t mean you can ignore your pain level. Use lubricant to enhance your comfort and enjoyment, but listen to your body and stop if anything feels too uncomfortable or painful.
Communicate With Your Partner
It’s impossible to have any successful relationship without open, honest communication—period, end of story. When managing endometriosis and sex, communication is 100 percent non-negotiable.
As nice as it would be for your partner to anticipate your needs and know how your body feels, you can’t expect them to be psychic. If something hurts, tell them.
The same goes for ensuring your partner knows how you’re feeling emotionally and vice versa. Being afraid that they will hurt you can also take its toll on your partner emotionally, so give them the space to express their feelings without judgment.
Being able to be emotionally vulnerable with your partner is hard, but it only increases the bond that you have together—and makes sex even hotter. You can also seek a sex therapist who can refer you to a pelvic floor specialist or help you and your partner navigate.
Endometriosis and sex may be challenging, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t workarounds to a good quality of life (or quality of sex life). Knowing your body is crucial so that you can make the necessary adjustments needed to keep the level of intimacy and sexual activity in your life that you want.
By using open communication with your partner, discussing your concerns with your healthcare provider, and using available sexual aids and tips, you don’t have to give up on having mind-blowing sex after an endometriosis diagnosis. Don’t forget that pain-free intimacy is essential to your sexual health and overall wellbeing.
Sexual Satisfaction and Frequency of Orgasm in Women With Chronic Pelvic Pain due to Endometriosis | PubMed
Postcoital Bleeding: A Review on Etiology, Diagnosis, and Management | PubMed
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