For members on MyEndometriosisTeam, pain during sexual intercouse is a common and difficult symptom. The clinical term for painful sex is dyspareunia.
For many women with endometriosis, pain during sex can be excrutiating. “It hurts SO bad I want to scream!!!” one member wrote.
Beyond the intense physical pain, dyspareunia can cause significant emotional distress for women with endometriosis. Many women feel guilt about not being able to be intimate with their partners and worry about their relationships. “I feel guilty for not giving my partner more sex, but I can't cope with the pain a lot of the time,” a member wrote.
Some members of MyEndometriosisTeam experience depression related to painful sex. “I feel hopeless. I would like to experience the pleasure of love, sex, affection, and romance with a stable partner. I don't know what that’s like, and it brings me profound heartache.”
Painful sex can have negative consequences for women’s relationships. “It just has severely impacted our relationship as a whole,” a MyEndometriosisTeam member wrote. “We aren't as close as we used to be in a lot of ways and I want that back. I'm grateful he's understanding, but I don't want to never have intimacy again.”
Another MyEndometriosisTeam member wrote, “My husband and I are only able to have sex in one position and sometimes even that is painful. It's frustrating for both of us, but he understands.”
Past experiences of painful sex can stop women from seeking new relationships. “It makes me nervous to become intimate and has been a blocker for starting relationships,” one MyEndometriosisTeam member wrote.
Sometimes women with endometriosis believe they have to endure painful sex for the sake of their relationships. In some cases, women make this decision independently, without their partners knowing they’re in pain. Unfortunately, other times women feel pressured to endure painful sex because their partners are unsupportive. One member wrote, “If my boyfriend doesn’t get sex, he gets upset and makes rude, hurtful remarks.”
Many women with endometriosis assume sex will always be painful because their healthcare provider never discussed the issue with them, or never offered helpful solutions. Some women have also been brushed off when they’ve raised concerns about painful sex with physicians. “My doctor won’t tell me anything,” a member wrote.
Painful sex is not a given. There are strategies and treatments that can help resolve painful sex for many women with endometriosis. Speaking up about dyspareunia with your doctor and partner can be scary, but sharing your concerns can also be a first step towards pain-free intimacy.
Open communication: Talking to your partner about your pain can be a first step to improving your sexual experiences. These conversations are critical, but they can also be scary. Some couples may benefit from sessions with a couples counselor, who is trained in facilitating difficult discussions.
Emotional or mental health support: Several members of MyEndometriosisTeam report feeling afraid of sex because of previous negative experiences. Talking to a trusted friend or psychotherapist can help resolve worries and fears that get in the way of your intimate life.
Timing: Some women experience pain more frequently leading up to and during their periods. Avoiding sex during these times can help you find relief.
Sexual positions: Certain sexual positions may be more comfortable than others. If you already know what’s comfortable and what isn’t, communicate your preferences to your partner. If you don’t know what’s most comfortable, try sexual positions where the woman has more control over depth of penetration.
Other forms of sexual intimacy: Sexual intercourse is not the only way for couples to be intimate. Non-penetrative intimacy can be pleasurable and support strong relationships.
Laparoscopic excision: Some women find relief from painful sex after laparoscopic excision. It’s important to discuss painful sex with your doctor in advance of an excision procedure to ensure they understand the full spectrum of your symptoms.
Pelvic floor physical therapy: Some women on MyEndometriosisTeam have had success with pelvic floor physical therapy. “I went to physical therapy for my pelvic floor muscles and it has helped my pain tremendously during sex. I still get pain sometimes during sex, but only right before my period,” one member shared.
On MyEndometriosisTeam, the social network and online support group for women living with endometriosis, members talk about a range of personal experiences and struggles. Pain during sex is one of the most discussed topics.
Here are some question-and-answer threads about pain during sex:
Here are some conversations about pain during sex:
Have you struggled with painful sex? Have you found ways to improve your intimate life? Share your experience on MyEndometriosisTeam or in the comments below.