How to Have Great Sex When Your Partner Has Endometriosis

There’s no sugar-coating it: endometriosis sucks. If your partner has it, not only can it make her periods more painful, but it can also seriously screw your sex life (pun intended). For many women, endometriosis can be an uncomfortable subject to discuss, as they themselves may not fully understand it or have a clear diagnosis.

So, what is endometriosis? According to the Mayo Clinic, Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue, known as the endometrium, that should line the inside of the uterus, grows outside of it instead. It works as it normally would during a menstrual cycle, thickening, breaking down and then bleeding. The problem? The tissue has no way to leave the body and becomes trapped, causing extreme pain in most cases.

With pain already being a normal byproduct of a period, many women dismiss the extreme pain, believing it’s normal. In doing so, other symptoms that occur can be confusing and potentially alarming.

For instance, when it comes to sex, endometriosis can bring on immense pain for a woman. On top of that, there are all kinds of symptoms that may manifest uncontrollably. As their partner, being educated about endometriosis can show not only that you care, but allow you to be prepared when they bring it up. Or maybe you’re having casual sex with someone and notice one of these things. While you shouldn’t assume they have endometriosis, a background in it may still provide a better experience for both of you. So, ready to learn? This is what you should know before having sex with someone with endometriosis.

She may be pretty dry down there.

A woman with endometriosis may not get as wet as other women when turned on. “If women are on medications that cause decrease in estrogen, it may contribute to vaginal dryness so it is totally fine to use lubricant to help decrease any irritation during intercourse.” Dr. Jessica Shepherd, OB/GYN, tells Men’s Health. Stock up on lube, and you’ll be good to go.

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Missionary may be extremely painful.

Everyone’s favorite fall-back position may be a no-go in this case. “The old-fashioned missionary position is the most painful—the uterus is tilted to your back (at its most posterior aspect), so it hurts the most,” John C. Petrozza, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist and chief of reproductive medicine and in vitro fertilization at Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center told Everyday Health. If you both like missionary, try propping up her pelvis with a pillow to change the angle a bit.

You may have to test out different positions.

Not that anyone’s ever complained about exploring new positions, but certain angles may be a lot better for her than others. “Sometimes trying new positions can also help as pain can be in certain locations more than others and penetration can be more painful in varying positions,” Dr. Shepherd says.

There may be some vaginal bleeding after sex.

Sex and orgasms place strain on the vulnerable tissue created by endometriosis, Verywell Health reports. As a result, it’s not uncommon for a woman to experience some bleeding after sex. If this occurs she may feel—well—really embarrassed. Staying calm and showing your understanding of what she’s going through is key. If it’s a common occurrence, placing a towel down ahead of time may be a good idea.

Certain times in her cycle may be more painful.

Yes, having sex at different times of the month can actually make a huge difference. “Intercourse may be less painful at certain times during your menstrual cycle,” says Petrozza. The time right after her period until she ovulates tends to be the best for sex.

She probably knows what works best for her.

Odds are, she’s been dealing with the symptoms of endometriosis for a long time. If she’s been sexually active, then she’s aware of which occur for her, as well as what feels best for her. Listen to her and ask questions. She may be embarrassed a little by bleeding or other things. Support and understanding deepens the intimacy and connection between you and your partner. Being there for her and acknowledging what she’s going through is the best thing you can do.

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