ENDOMETRIOSIS, the condition where the tissue that normally lines the womb ends up elsewhere, has been known to cause painful periods. However, there are other equally debilitating effects of this disease, and painful sex is one of them.
Painful sex, or dyspareunia, is a major issue when it comes on to the relationships, fertility and psychology of women. It can literally destroy a relationship if not addressed properly. Endo patients who suffer from this often avoid trying to have sexual intercourse and when they do, the anxiety of the associated pain makes intimacy almost impossible. This in turn reduces the chances of getting pregnant, as no sex equals no baby (for the most part anyway).
The cause for the pain is stretching of endometriosis deposits that would be in the upper vagina and lower part of the womb. This typically leads to pain during deep penetration which can linger for up to two days after intercourse, though some women report having pain just as penetration occurs. Another cause is related to the treatment of the disease. Some of the medications used cause vaginal dryness and decrease in sex drive. The latter will in turn reduce arousal and lubrication, both of which causes sex to be painful.
Thankfully, there are a variety of ways to get help to alleviate this issue. It's not usually an easy fix, however, and it's important that the couples communicate and tackle it together.
Tell your partner what's going on. This is the first step towards relief. Many women tend to just “bear” it and cry when no one is looking. Some may even lie and say, “I'm just not in the mood”. This helps no one. Carry your partner to the next check-up with your ObGyn for him to be better informed. At times it's necessary to have couples' therapy where all the negative feelings can be brought up and addressed.
Whether the cause for vaginal dryness is medication or just anxiety, lubrication will go a long way in helping to reduce friction and pain.
3. Avoid sex near your period
This is usually when it's most painful. Stay clear of this time period until the pain is better controlled.
This cannot be understated.
5. Try different positions
This is completely individual and requires you and your partner to experiment with what works best for you. Usually missionary position is most painful, while lying on your side or doggy-style tends to be better tolerated.
6. Try things other than straight sex
Intimacy doesn't mean penetration alone. While the aim is to have that as a regular part of the relationship, it may be necessary to hold off until your condition is better controlled. Instead focus on foreplay, including kissing, massage and oral sex.
7. Get your endometriosis under control
While all of the above are great tips, the disease itself will need to be controlled. Reducing and suppressing the amount of endometriosis in the pelvis via laparoscopy or medication is key.
There's always hope. Bring back the intimacy and love in your relationship. Talk to him. Talk to your doc.
Dr Ryan Halsall is a gynaecologist at Island Laparoscopy. To schedule a consultation send e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 876-455-4527. Facebook page is http://www.Facebook.com/ilapjamaica .