Dyspareunia, or painful intercourse, is one of the most common symptoms of endometriosis. It has been described as stabbing, jabbing, or sharp. It may occur only during intercourse, or it can last for 24 to 48 hours after intercourse. Some women feel mild pain, while for others this pain can be excruciating.
How endometriosis causes dyspareunia
Endometrial implants, or lesions, that grow behind the vagina and lower uterus may be stretched and pulled during intercourse, causing pain. Its intensity during intercourse depends on the location and spread of these lesions.
Side effects of endometriosis treatment can also contribute to dyspareunia. Hormonal therapies and the removal of the ovaries (oophorectomy) both treat the disease by reducing the level of estrogen produced, which is associated with vaginal dryness. This, too, can cause pain during intercourse.
Treatment of dyspareunia
It may be challenging for patients to discuss dyspareunia with their doctor. However, such discussions can help in diagnosing the disease earlier in its course, and in determining the exact location of endometriotic lesions.
Hormonal treatments that inhibit the growth of endometriotic lesions also can often lessen disease symptoms, including dyspareunia.
Other ways of managing dyspareunia
Positions taken during intercourse can influence the intensity of dyspareunia. Positions that avoid deep penetration usually cause less pain. It is worth experimenting with different positions to find the most comfortable ones.
The timing of intercourse can also be an essential factor for dyspareunia. Some women with endometriosis find dyspareunia to be more intense throughout the menstrual cycle, or at certain times during this cycle. Pain can be addressed by not engaging in sex during those times.
Dyspareunia can be stressful in an intimate relationship, but it is crucial to discuss its existence with the partner. This can help in discovering positions that are less painful, and other ways to lessen pain during or after intercourse.
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