#SexColumn: Endometriosis and sex

Women reporting severe chronic abuse of multiple types had 79 % increased risk of laparoscopically-confirmed endometriosis Picture: File

Women reporting severe chronic abuse of multiple types had 79 % increased risk of laparoscopically-confirmed endometriosis Picture: File

Published Mar 22, 2024


By Sharon Gordon

There’s a great deal of social media around endometriosis at the moment. I must say I didn’t ever think about it until my niece had a problem conceiving. Endometriosis was the diagnosis.

I’m happy to report that she has conceived and has two beautiful children. When you have endometriosis sex can be painful. But what is it?

Endometriosis is a chronic condition characterised by the growth of tissue similar to the lining of the uterus, called endometrium, outside the uterus.

This tissue can be found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, outer surface of the uterus, and other pelvic organs. Unlike the normal endometrial tissue that sheds during menstruation, the displaced endometrial tissue has no way to exit the body, leading to inflammation, scarring, and sometimes severe pain.

While the exact cause of endometriosis remains unclear, factors such as hormonal imbalances, genetic predisposition, and immune system dysfunction are believed to play significant roles in its development.

Because we don’t talk about sexual and reproductive help, women often suffer in silence for years. And then when they do because we don’t really understand it we get a home cure from all and sundry.

So here is the list of things that do not help.

  • Physical therapy
  • Trying to relax
  • Wine
  • More foreplay, even though this is always a good thing.
  • Meditation.
  • Doing Kegel exercises, also not a bad thing.
  • More lube, and again never a bad thing, but it will not help with painful sex if you have endometriosis.

The symptoms of endometriosis can vary widely among individuals, with some experiencing debilitating pelvic pain, painful menstrual periods, pain during intercourse, and infertility.

However, the severity of symptoms does not necessarily correlate with the extent of the condition.

Diagnosis often involves a combination of medical history review, physical examination, imaging studies like ultrasound, and sometimes laparoscopic surgery for definitive confirmation by visual inspection and biopsy.

Treatment aims to alleviate symptoms, slow the progression of the disease, and improve fertility.

Pain management is a cornerstone of treatment. Hormonal treatments can help control symptoms by preventing the growth and shedding of endometrial tissue.

Surgical interventions may be necessary. In cases where fertility is a concern, surgical procedures like laparoscopic excision of endometriosis or in vitro fertilisation (IVF) may be recommended to improve the chances of conception.

While surgery can provide symptom relief and improve fertility outcomes, endometriosis may recur after treatment, requiring ongoing management and follow-up care.

In recent years, there has been growing recognition of the impact of endometriosis on quality of life and reproductive health, leading to increased research efforts and advocacy for improved diagnosis and treatment options.

Alongside conventional medical approaches, many individuals with endometriosis find relief when having sex by using the following:

Dilator set. These will also help with vaginismus. It consists of 5 or 6 dildos ranging in size, from very thin to larger and penis shaped. It needs to be comfortable and not add to pain.

The OhNut, available on the Lola Montez website. These are squishy bumpers that prevent penetration from going too deep. Ohnut allows both you and your partner to focus on what matters most - connection, enjoyment and fun.

It is worn externally at the base of a penetrating partner (e.g. on their shaft or on a toy),

Ohnut compresses down to act as a soft buffer during sex.

You do need to find a lubricant that won’t burn or inflame the vagina wall lining, so stay away from stimulants and flavoured lubricants. We love the Pjur range; find one that works for you.

We have samples if you’re interested. Get in touch by email or on our social media.

A small clitoral vibrator. Using a vibrator helps confuse the nerves sending pain signals and numbs the pain. It also distracts you from the pain and if there is pain remaining your body can start associating it with pleasure rather than just discomfort.

A Wedge Pillow, you can have one made or check out the inflatable one from Steamy Shades, available at Lola Montez. It makes sex so much more comfortable.

Make sure that everything you use is cleaned properly. Soap residue can only make things worse.

A friend with endometriosis says she rinses everything in a vinegar solution. Make sure it dries properly before using it again.

If you do experience pain during sex, it is not normal. Seek help immediately. Intimacy should be pleasurable not painful.

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