Endometriosis is one of the leading causes of dyspareunia (painful intercourse) in women. The pain can start as early as the beginning of penetration and last up to 24-48 hours later.
Endometriosis occurs when tissue from the uterine lining (the endometrium) grows outside the uterus. These growths might be found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, ureters, intestines, or rectum, among other areas. When endometriosis penetrates over 5 mm into the peritoneum, the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity, it is called deep infiltrating endometriosis (DIE). In case the endometriotic lesions reach the vagina the sexual problems increase twofold than lesions found elsewhere, possibly because this area is more stimulated during intercourse.
A sexual activity questionnaire test further found that dyspareunia and vaginal DIE nodules significantly affect sexual activity (P < 0.05).(http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/) The results of this study demonstrated that women with DIE have a sexual function impairment, correlated with the overall well-being decrease. Moreover, the presence of dyspareunia and vaginal endometriotic lesions seems to be involved in sexual dysfunction.
Due to endometriosis-associated dyspareunia, sex is often a dreaded nightmare fraught with worry.
How can Women with Endometriosis make Sex Enjoyable?
Endometriosis can lead to a number of relationship problems. Women find ways to avoid sex because of the pain. Partners may feel rejected. Some couples drift apart and stop being intimate. Women may worry that their relationship will end because of endometriosis.
Although there is currently no cure for endometriosis, there are a number of ways to make sex enjoyable and less painful.
- Experiment other sexual positions, such as side-by-side, may be more comfortable because they put less pressure on the growths.
- Find other ways to be intimate. Kissing and touching can be pleasurable, calming and exciting.
- Mutual masturbation is a great and important way to pleasure your partner and connect sexually without intercourse.
- Plan sex around the menstrual periods as it can be more painful before and during a woman’s period, due to hormonal fluctuations.
- Converse with your partner. By opening up, couples can share their concerns, reassure each other, build confidence, and commit to working together as a team to improve their sexual performance.
- Increasing foreplay and meditation are two ways to prepare both the mind and body for sex and increase lubrication.
- If you feel dry and chafing, try KY, or an alternative lubricant. There are plenty out there to choose from so find one that is right for you.
- Birth control pills can help regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle, and minimize some of the symptoms of endometriosis. Although most women can take the pill without incident, a few do report changes in libido.
Finally, don’t be afraid to mention sexual side effects as they occur to your partner or doctor, or even to ask for a referral to a qualified sex therapist if needed. Endometriosis need not mean the end of a healthy sex life if it is treated properly and promptly.