Endometriosis is a chronic, usually recurrent, disease that affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age. It is characterized by the presence of fragments of the uterine lining (endometrial tissue), outside the uterus - on the ovaries, the Fallopian tubes, the peritoneum, ligaments, bladder, rectum, or intestines. It then causes ovarian lesions, adhesion and cysts, in colonized organs. Under the effect of hormones, the endometrial tissue swells and bleeds in the belly. This results in local inflammation and pain of varying intensity.
Some women have virtually no symptoms, while others regularly experience severe pain, heavy periods, anxiety, infertility, and other problems. Living with endometriosis doesn’t just affect social life but a woman’s sex drive and hence strains the sex life of a couple.
Misters, if your partner has endometriosis, this may be a touch phase. She craves for intimacy, but her sexual health is not in the best shape right now. A little understanding of how and why endometriosis affects her sexually will help. So here you go:
- Painful intercourse
The deeper the endometriosis, the higher the consequences on sexual health and desire, especially when the lesions infiltrate the vagina and the recto-vaginal septum. Penetration can cause discomfort or excessive pain. This is termed as dyspareunia.
- Decreased libido
The symptoms of endometriosis may indirectly impact libido. The apprehension of pain does not promote sexual desire. The fear of having pain during intercourse creates a psychological block and women often do not want to try to have sex. To apprehension is added chronic fatigue, a frequent symptom in endometriosis. However, we know that fatigue lowers sexual desire.
- Treatments that affect sexual health
The contraceptive pill is the first treatment for endometriosis. Taken continuously, progestin-only medicine deprives the body of estrogen, which helps reduce pain and stop the progression of lesions. It is a battle won against pain, but in some women, the hormonal treatment of endometriosis can, in turn, lower the libido and decrease vaginal lubrication.
How to support a partner with endometriosis?
Endometriosis is the most poorly understood disease. Besides, surgery or hormonal treatments, women need the support of their partners. Consulting a therapist may be a good idea as the condition is constantly evolving. Speaking to a counsellor or therapist makes it possible to adapt to the lack of desire or intimacy that your partner feels. You also benefit from a space for speaking and listening. Besides, this professional can teach you relaxation techniques to apply during intercourse to calm down and prevent pain. They also help you work on the repercussions of the illness in terms of stress, negative emotions, and its consequence on your sexual health and relationship.
In any case, you can enjoy sex with a partner who has endometriosis; it just takes time, listening to yourself, indulgence, and kindness.
Medically reviewed by Rishabh Verma, RP