Sexual Health Q&A

What can women with endometriosis do to improve their sexual relationships?

Endometriosis – when tissue that lines a woman’s uterus grows elsewhere in her abdomen – can lead to a number of sexual problems. Pain is common, along with decreased sexual satisfaction, less desire, and fewer orgasms. Endometriosis can take a toll on a woman’s emotions and relationships as well. (Click here for more details on sexual problems caused by endometriosis.)

Depending on the severity, endometriosis might be treated with medications or surgery.

However, there are things a woman can do to make sex more enjoyable.

Experiment. Other sexual positions, such as side-by-side, may be more comfortable because they put less pressure on the growths. A woman may have more pain with deep penetration, so a position that gives her more control might help. Couples may need to experiment before they find what works best for them.

Finding other ways to be intimate is another option. Kissing and touching can still be pleasurable.

Women may also find it helpful to plan sex around their menstrual periods. When hormone levels fluctuate, endometriotic tissue can become more inflamed and irritated. As a result, sex may be more painful before and during a woman’s period.

Communicate. Relationship problems are common for couples facing endometriosis. Women may worry about not pleasing their partner and feel inadequate or insecure. Partners may feel rejected and not understand a woman’s pain and fear. Couples may drift apart.

Like many sexual problems, endometriosis can be difficult to talk about. But the conversation is worthwhile. By opening up, couples can share their concerns, reassure each other, build confidence, and commit to working together as a team to improve their intimacy.

Counseling or sex therapy – for couples or for women alone – may also help. A qualified therapist can teach coping and communication strategies as well as provide more education about endometriosis.