Reducing pain during sex when you have endometriosis

Pain during sex is a common symptom of endometriosis. But with some modifications and communication with your partner, you can limit pain and enjoy your sexuality.

Sexuality is a natural and healthy part of living, as well as an important aspect of your identity as a person. If you have endometriosis, it's not uncommon to experience pain during sex. When something that's supposedly pleasurable is instead painful, it can feel like a double blow. But by working with your doctor and your partner, you can retain your sexuality. And with patience, communication and creativity, you may even deepen intimacy with your partner.

Reducing pain during sex

If you have endometriosis and you're experiencing pain during sex, talk with your doctor about finding a treatment that helps reduce your pain. You and your partner also might be able to minimize pain with a few changes to your sexual routine:

  • Address pain before sex. A warm bath or over-the-counter pain reliever before sex might help reduce pain during sex.
  • Don't rush. Longer foreplay can help stimulate your natural lubrication. You might reduce pain by delaying penetration until you feel fully aroused.
  • Change positions. If you have sharp pain during thrusting, try different positions, such as being on top. In this position, you might be able to regulate penetration to a depth that feels good to you.
  • Communicate. Talk about what feels good and what doesn't. If you need your partner to go slow, say so.
  • Consider a variety of sexual activities. If vaginal penetration is painful, you and your partner might find other ways to be intimate. Sensual massage, kissing, mutual masturbation and use of a vibrator offer alternatives to intercourse that might be more comfortable, fulfilling and fun than your regular routine.

Tips for talking with your partner about sex

Sex isn't the easiest subject to talk about. Sex is both surrounded in mystery and intensely analyzed, often creating unrealistic expectations. This is why it's so important to talk with your partner about your feelings and needs. You may want to start by talking to each other fully clothed, at the kitchen table or in another neutral setting.

Begin your sentences with "I" rather than "you." For example, "I really enjoy it when you ..." is more likely to invite dialogue than "You never touch me anymore."

This is the time for both of you to talk about your fears and desires. You may think that your partner has stopped touching you because he or she has lost interest, or finds you undesirable. Instead, your partner may be fearful of causing you more physical pain or discomfort.

Some places to start could include:

  • The types of physical stimulation you prefer
  • The positions that feel best and those you prefer to avoid
  • Fantasies and other things you find arousing

Sex therapy

Sometimes it can be helpful to talk things through with a neutral third person. Sex therapy can assist you in breaking any cycles of negative response to sexual stimulation. A sex therapist can help evaluate your relationships, medical health and psychological health. He or she can also help you improve communication with your partner around sex, and practice techniques to decrease anxiety about painful sex so you might better enjoy the intimacy of a sexual experience.

Keep at it

If you encounter setbacks, try not to become discouraged or focus on the negative. Keep trying. Intimacy can actually make you feel better. The body's natural painkillers, endorphins, are released during touch and sex. And the closeness you feel during lovemaking may help you feel stronger and better able to cope with your pain and other symptoms.

Jan. 30, 2020 See more In-depth