Most of us have experienced pain during sex at some point. Whether caused by an awkward position, a pulled muscle, or too little lube, we usually grimace a bit, ask our partner to move a little to the left, and get back to feeling good.
But if you’ve got endometriosis, re-positioning for pleasure isn’t always so easy.
Endometrial tissue – the same stuff shed by the uterus each month during your period – is, obviously, designed to grow only within the uterus. When it decides to show up in other places within the body, most commonly around the pelvic organs, serious issues can occur.
In short, imagine reproductive tissue randomly growing on other organs, where it can’t be sloughed away by your period each month and instead builds up in clot-like patches. Your body definitely isn’t going to respond to such an irregularity in a happy way.
This confused endometrial tissue causes inflammation and irritation wherever it grows, often leading to painful, heavy periods, pain during or after sexual intercourse, chronic pelvic pain, and even infertility.
According to Endometriosis.org, which reports on facts collected by the World Endometriosis Society and the World Endometriosis Research Foundation, this tissue disease affects an estimated 1 in 10 women during their reproductive years, encompassing an approximate 176 million women worldwide.
Though endometriosis might change how you have sex, it’s far from a dead end for pleasure. Our research suggests several routes to relief -that can be customized with the help of your doctor.
Get to the Source of Sexual Pain
Like any medical problem, it’s essential to see a specialist to properly diagnose and treat your symptoms if you do, in fact, have endometriosis.
Treating a serious health issue at home, especially when you’re unsure of the exact cause, can make things worse down the line. Specific sexual health issues often require very different treatments in order to heal, and you don’t want to take a chance on an incorrectly-guessed treatment that might exacerbate your condition.
A medical pro with extensive experience in diagnosing and managing pelvic problems can help you determine the best path to wellness for your own unique symptoms. Always take time to chat with a doctor and get to the source of your pain before panicking.
Check in With Your Pelvis
The pelvic floor muscles play a big role in sexual health, hence the resurgence of Kegel exercises – those fun little squeeze-and-release workouts for your vagina. A strong pelvic floor can lead to more satisfying orgasms, decreased pelvic pain, and even a cure for incontinence.
The bowels can also make or break your pelvic health considering their proximity to the reproductive organs. If you frequently experience constipation or feel like you have to seriously “push” to poop, you could be stressing your bowels and pelvic floor.
Weakened, damaged, or over-strained pelvic floor muscles are often contributing factors to painful sex. In this case, referral to a specialist can be life-changing in removing second-hand symptoms of barriers to full pelvic health.
Occasionally, the solution may lie in an easy fix, like increasing water intake to help improve bowel movements and decrease the strain on the pelvic floor. Just another reason to see a doctor before making any assumptions!
Don’t Forget Your Mental Health
Endometriosis experts never discount the mental toll that chronic pain and sexual dysfunction can have on your mental well-being. Once you’ve accomplished a medical plan to manage the physical effects of endo, seek out a psychologist or sex therapist specializing in chronic pain disorders.
Finding the right counsel to fit your mental health needs doesn’t always happen overnight. Don’t hesitate to seek several opinions and switch therapists a few times until it feels right.
Find Your Best Fit Positions
Once you’ve tackled the physical causes and mental effects of endo, you can find several work-around positions to tackle the sex part.
If high-speed sex and deep penetration are increasing your pain, try taking sex from the top – literally! Riding your partner in cowgirl position or from the side, where you can completely control the depth and speed, can help ease you back into pleasurable intercourse.
It can also help to make a small pile of pillows under your hips and allow your partner to slowly penetrate you in an alternative form of missionary position. Traditional missionary can be extremely painful for some folks with endo, but raising the pelvis can change the angle and relieve pressure on the back of the uterus.
Lube is Always Your Friend
And last but not least, never skimp on the lube, especially if you’ve got pelvic pain. Organ dysfunction coupled with lower arousal and pleasure can make it difficult to self-lubricate.
Overall, don’t get down on yourself for needing a little wetness assistance. Lube feels fantastic for all ages and stages of health, and we’ve always recommended it 100% as a physical wellness essential or something to spice up the ordinary.
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Colleen began her sexual wellness career as a sex toy educator in manufacturing and retail. She has since branched out as a writer and marketer, covering all facets of sexual health and anatomy. At Intimina, she specializes in women’s medical care and health concerns, menstruation, sex and pregnancy, and birth control. Colleen frequently confers with top sex educators and intimate wellness experts to stay on top of the constantly changing sexual wellness space.