Endometriosis can be an incredibly difficult reproductive condition to deal with as it causes side effects that range from infertility to painful sex. In fact, one study found that more than 45% of women with endometriosis reported painful sex as one of the primary symptoms.
Here at Serrano Ob/Gyn Associates, Dr. Christopher Serrano and our team have extensive experience helping women navigate the complex landscape of endometriosis. With an eye toward improving your health and quality of life, we want to take a closer look at how endometriosis can affect sex and intimacy and what we can do to resolve these issues.
If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you know the basics behind endometriosis, but we want to quickly restate them to shed some light on why sex can be painful.
When you have endometriosis, the tissue that lines your uterus — your endometrium — grows outside your uterus, often draping itself over nearby organs, such as your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissues that support your uterus.
As you go through your menstrual cycles, this tissue responds to the rise and fall in hormones and tries to thicken and leave the body (like the lining of your uterus does during menstruation), except it has nowhere to go. As a result, adhesions (scar tissue) can form inside your pelvis.
The reason why so many women with endometriosis experience painful sex, which is medically known as dyspareunia, is due to the adhesions we describe above. If you have endometrial tissue behind your vagina or around the lower part of your uterus, this tissue can stretch and pull during penetration, which is what causes the pain.
This pain can be acute during each penetration, or it may present as a deep ache that can last for hours after intercourse.
How we go about treating endometriosis depends very much upon your goals and your symptoms. Hormonal therapies are often our first line of defense, but these treatments prevent you from conceiving.
If your goal is to conceive and to relieve your other symptoms, we might recommend a minimally invasive surgery to remove some of the more problematic tissue.
If you’re not concerned about conceiving, a hysterectomy relieves all of the symptoms of endometriosis, including painful sex, for good. While we use the latest technologies to perform a hysterectomy, including the da Vinci® robotic surgery platform, we understand that removing your uterus is a big step.
For a more conservative approach, here are a few things you can try on your own to minimize discomfort during sex, such as:
As you can see, there are several different approaches to helping you find relief from your endometriosis, and we’re happy to sit down with you to find one that meets your needs and goals. To get started, call or message our office in San Antonio, Texas, to set up a consultation.