When you have endometriosis pain, sex can become unbearable. But neither you nor your relationship has to suffer. Here are 10 expert tips to help you end the discomfort, communicate with your partner and resume physical intimacy…
You’ve planned a romantic evening with your mate, and everything is going well – but you can’t seem to relax, because one wrong move might put you in pain so severe that it lingers for days.
This is a familiar scenario for some of the 5.5 million American women who have endometriosis. With this condition, tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows in other parts of the pelvis and abdomen. It can occur on or under the ovaries, behind the uterus, on the tissues that hold the uterus in place, or on the bowels or bladder.
Some women with endometriosis feel no pain during intercourse (called dyspareunia). But for others, endometriosis pain can make physical intimacy unbearable and even break up marriages.
That’s because their endometriosis is in the “cul-de-sac” – what doctors call the small space behind the cervix and lower uterus.
“When endometriosis gets into that space, it widens it,” explains Deborah Coady, M.D., clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City and co-author of Healing Painful Sex (Seal Press).
“It causes nerve endings to grow and inflames the tissues, and the connective tissue around the area becomes stiff,” she says. “If that area is hit during intercourse, endometriosis pain can be excruciating.”
And it can last for days, because “the nerves become so irritated that they keep firing and sending impulses to the brain,” Dr. Coady says.
There can be other sources of pain, she adds.