Painful intercourse, also referred to as dyspareunia, is one of many things women with endometriosis may experience. It can be one of the first indicators that something is wrong with your body. It was for me, anyway.
I lost my virginity when I was 17, and I didn’t have any problems for a few years. On the odd occasion, I would bleed during or after intercourse, but I never thought it was something to be concerned about. The first time intercourse became painful was when I was 21. Eventually, I went to the doctors, and that led to me being diagnosed with endometriosis.
Endometriosis occurs differently in every woman and can be discovered under a whole range of circumstances. Not every woman will feel pain during intercourse in the same way that not every woman will suffer the same symptoms.
But for those of us who do experience painful intercourse, what can we do to help improve our experience?
Intercourse can be a difficult and sometimes embarrassing topic to discuss. However, the key to a healthy and successful sexual relationship is communication. Don’t feel ashamed of being honest and speaking about any accommodations you may need. You should be able to speak openly to your partner. Tell them what feels good and what doesn’t, and don’t be afraid to say “stop” or tell them if something hurts. You might find that your partner is also finding it difficult because they don’t want to hurt you.
Communication can be particularly difficult if you are in a new relationship and are still getting to know each other, or if you’re not in a relationship with your sexual partner. Try to judge the situation and do what feels right for you both.
Put yourself and your needs first
It isn’t selfish to do what feels right for you. It may feel difficult to speak up about your needs because you want to please your partner and keep them happy. But, if you are in discomfort, do not feel as if you must continue. Intercourse can often aggravate the symptoms of endometriosis, so it’s better to do something about it at the time, rather than be in discomfort for days on end.
Switch things up
Experiment and change positions, or gently steer your partner around your body. Be open to trying new things. You’ll discover what works well for you both position-wise. And remember, sex doesn’t have to be penetrative. There are plenty of other ways to have an intimate time together.
Intimacy isn’t just about intercourse
Connect with your partner in other, non-sexual ways. Make them aware of your feelings for them and make sure they know that you do want them. Talk to them. Give each other compliments and make time for small gestures of affection.
It is totally normal to not feel in the mood all of the time
Sometimes, you may find your partner can’t get anywhere near you because of how much pain you are in. Or, among the haze of hot flashes and fatigue, you may not have the energy to be close to your partner. Endometriosis and all of its treatments can affect your libido.
Your mental state and feelings may impact your libido as well. You might be fearful of the pain that intercourse could cause, or maybe you’re not feeling attractive because you have a swollen tummy. That is OK — there is nothing wrong with just not feeling like it. However, you may want to explain why you are not in the mood to your partner so they do not feel as if you are pushing them away.
The most important piece of information I can give you is that painful intercourse isn’t normal. So please, if you experience any pain, see your doctor or healthcare provider. It may not be endometriosis, but you don’t have to suffer in silence.
And for those of you who are yet to have intercourse, please don’t be afraid. Intercourse can be scary enough without thinking about the complexities of pain and positions.
You can follow more of my journey over at www.emlwy.com.
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.