“What’s your motivation for having sex?”
I hesitated. What was my motivation? Did I even have one anymore?
Last week, I chatted with a painful sex expert who specializes in pelvic floor therapy. It became clear to me that even though I have a healthy relationship with my partner, a disconnect still exists within our intimacy. While we talk about endometriosis openly, I take active steps to feel sexually empowered, and my diet helps enormously, I still have difficulties with painful sex that need some support.
Thankfully, major developments are now happening in women’s sexual health, specifically about the much-ignored topic of painful sex. I’ve outlined a few below in the hope that they help you to feel sexually nourished again — or for the first time.
For me, the key trigger for pain during sex is penetration becoming too deep. Sometimes pain is there straight away, but more often than not, it will sear through me due to a movement from my partner.
A coping mechanism I’ve subconsciously developed is to always have my legs ready to close against his body if I need to, and my hands will usually always be on his arms or torso if I need to stop him from moving due to a stab of pain. But what this also means is that I’m always on my guard, so I’m always tense, and therefore, I’m more likely to experience pain.
After discussing this with my sexual therapist, she introduced me to Ohnut. Ohnut is a new wearable sex tool that allows couples to experiment safely with penetration without the fear of pain. It was developed by a woman who suffers from pelvic pain and a team of sexual well-being experts. I haven’t tried it yet, but the reviews sound hopeful, and I’m inspired by their story and commitment to women’s sexual pleasure.
Right now, I’m typing at my laptop and I can feel my shoulders getting tense. This also happens when I’m stressed, tired, or going through emotional challenges. It’s widely acknowledged that we hold stress, trauma, and physical complaints in our muscles, and we have lots of different medical and holistic ways of dealing with that.
But what about the vagina? The vagina and pelvic floor are made up of lots of muscles. They can get tense from pain, emotional trauma (fear of pain, for example), and even physical trauma such as repeated surgeries, examinations, etc. So why would we not treat the muscles there, too?
I’m currently learning how to map my vagina through a process called yoni mapping. Using either a finger or a specialist tool, you can map the points in your vagina and notice where it feels pleasurable, painful, or numb. From there, you can begin massaging those tense points in a way that feels comfortable to begin releasing some of the knots there. I found that it was better to fully read the instructions before I tried doing this myself, so I suggest reading this how-to post by ONNA Lifestyle.
Firstly, and probably most obviously, pelvic floor therapy is a successful approach for many with pelvic pain. As I discussed above, we can hold a lot of tension in the pelvic floor muscles, and equally, there may be further complications with our muscles that need to be addressed with a professional. An expert will be able to examine you, identify the underlying causes, and proceed with a treatment plan that will work to minimize pain. I’ve recently discovered The Pelvic Expert, who offers online programs teaching exercises you can do at home to help ease pelvic pain and regain a healthy pelvic floor.
However, there’s also the emotional and psychological side of sexual pain, which you may need support with. To use myself as an example, I’ve mentally cut myself off from my sexual well-being because it’s easier to deal with nothing at all than to deal with the pain — but that doesn’t mean the problem has gone away. I have lots of baggage wrapped up in my sexual well-being, issues that need to be talked through with someone so that I can move forward.
Equally, there’s the spiritual side of our well-being, which some may or may not resonate with. For those of you who do, some form of spiritual healing may be helpful. Reiki is a form of energy healing, which I’ve known many endometriosis warriors to use and benefit from, but you could also look into crystal healing or something a little more mainstream, such as acupuncture.
So, that’s my roundup of tools and methods to relieve sexual pain. Have I missed any that you use? Share with me your tips on managing painful sex with endometriosis.
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.