Lets talk about Sex Baby! Endo isn’t talked about enough and nore is sex and the pain it can cause. Sex is an important part of a womens life, its a part of communication, expression and showing love, and we have found this really good article written in Cosmo to share with you, happy ready and happy lubbing up! 😉 Original article found here
Most people like having sex because it’s fun, right? Well, imagine loving sex but absolutely dreading it, because every time you orgasm you end up in pain. That’s how it is for my wife, Kitty, who has endometriosis. Sex leaves her feeling bloated, swollen, sick and in agony. It’s even ended up with her bleeding non-stop for 26 days afterwards.
According to the charity Endometriosis UK, around 1.5 million women in the UK (that’s 1 in 10) alone are suffering from it. Still, the condition remains largely misunderstood and it takes an average of seven years for someone to receive a diagnosis after their symptoms first start.
So what is endometriosis?
Dr Anita Mitra, a specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology and who runs Gynae Geek, explains, “Endometriosis is the growth of endometrial-like tissue (the lining of the womb/uterus) outside the uterus, commonly on the ovaries, bowel, and bladder, and on the liver and lungs in rare cases.
“The tissue responds to female hormones throughout the menstrual cycle as it would if it were within the womb; it thickens and then begins to fall away like it would during a period. However, because it’s not inside the womb with an escape route, it causes irritation, inflammation and often excruciating pain.
“Eventually it can cause scar tissue to develop, causing the normally mobile internal organs of your pelvis to become stuck together, further adding to the pain.”
How does it affect your sex life?
Kitty first started showing endometriosis symptoms during her second period, age 13. “I thought I was dying and knew something wasn’t right,” she says. “The symptoms got progressively worse as I got older, the pain became more intense, and I began to throw up and pass out.”
No one believed her when she talked about the pain she was in, and parents and teachers assumed she was just trying to get out of going to school. “People forever told me, ‘Oh it can’t be that bad, we all have period cramps and you just have to get on with it.’ Last year, I was dismissed from a job for having too many sick days because of my endometriosis.”
Maya Singh began having symptoms four years ago, but has only just been diagnosed. “Recently it’s been agony and I take painkillers every single day,” she says. “It’s prevented me from having sex at all, because it feels like stabbing in my uterus. It literally feels like someone has put a knife inside me, it just becomes unbearable… you just cry because it hurts so much.”
This pain seems to be common among endo sufferers. Dr Mitra explains this is because of scarring. “The presence of endometriotic deposits and internal scarring means penetrative sex can cause pain, because these can be stretched and moved about during the process, resulting in inflammation.” Sufferers can experience pain during sex itself, or it can come on afterwards and last between 24 and 48 hours.
In Kitty’s case, she once bled for 26 consecutive days afterwards. But it’s not only penetration that causes her discomfort now, even bringing herself to orgasm through masturbation can have the same painful effect. I asked Dr Mitra why orgasms would cause pain, and she said medical professionals are not 100% sure, but think
“it’s probably due to increased blood flow to the area and the contraction of the uterus, in the same way as it does when you have a period which results in period pain.”
How to tell if your period pain is endometriosis
Now, Sally avoids relationships – both physically and emotionally – altogether. “My endo, and everything that comes with it, means I have lost all my self-confidence. My body has changed dramatically. I gained a lot of weight from the hormone medication I was prescribed, and the amount of time spent sick in bed led to depression and anxiety – which manifested itself in an unhealthy relationship with food.”
She also experiences what she called ‘endo belly’ at the drop of a hat. “One minute you have a relatively flat belly, and the next you look pregnant,” Sally explains. “And on top of all that, how do you even begin to explain being chronically ill to a potential partner? And say you may not be able to enjoy, or even participate in, a physical relationship?”
Kitty agrees, “It’s not just about the pain, the fatigue and general sickness that come with it is sometimes worse, because that happens all month long.” While she’s grateful that I’m understanding and patient, she says it’s not easy. “There are times when I feel guilty if I’m too tired for sex, and I feel like I’ve disappointed my wife.”
Dr Mitra explains the strain the condition can put on relationships isn’t spoken about enough. “It may be due to feelings of guilt, rejection, frustration and fear from both sides, which I’m sure will also impact libido. When it comes to sex, I think communication is key, and understanding from your partner. It may be possible to identify particular times during your menstrual cycle when you find sex more comfortable than others. Some hormonal treatments can also cause vaginal dryness, as can having surgery to remove your ovaries. Lubricants will help with this.”
In our experience, we’ve found being in a lesbian relationship means there’s less pressure for us to have penetrative sex. Plus, Kitty tends to be more of a giver, which totally works for me.
But, when it comes to pleasuring her, I’ve learned to focus on external stimulation and often dry humping and lots of making out. We also find watching porn really helps because it gets her really wet, which makes sex much less painful.
Dr Mitra explains there are other things to try that can reduce the pain, and make your sex life more enjoyable again.
1. Exercise. It helps because you’ll release endorphins, which are natural pain killers. There’s no ‘best exercise’ for endo – just what you enjoy and can manage.
2. Avoid constipation. If your bowels are full, they can press on and stretch the nodules and scar tissue, which makes the pain worse. Endometriosis also grows in response to oestrogen, so if you’ve got too much floating around your body this can make the condition worse. Your bowel is one of the primary methods of getting rid of oestrogen, so constipation equals more oestrogen, which equals worsening endo. It’s a vicious cycle.
3. Stay hydrated. You also get rid of oestrogen in the liver, so stay hydrated and eat plenty of green veggies. These contain compounds that help your liver break down oestrogens.
4. Prioritise sleep and self-care. Both are super important for maintaining a happy hormone balance.
5. Reduce your alcohol intake. Not only does alcohol disturb your sleep, many alcoholic drinks contain loads of sugar, which a lot of Dr Mitra’s patients tell her makes their endometriosis worse.
Dr Mitra adds, “Everyone is different, and something that works well for one woman may be a trigger for another. The most important thing is to work out what works for you specifically, and maintaining good communication with your partner.”