One of the areas that is majorly effected by endometriosis is sex. When everything below your navel is tender or hurts, sexual intercourse can become a massive issue. If you're lucky, your partner will be understanding, but even then the lack of closeness achieved in sex will often put a strain on your relationship.
Many endo warriors speak of pain during intercourse, bleeding during or after sex, nausae, a general lack of libido or pure fear of letting their partner anywhere near their vagina and tension resulting from that fear. It took me years to actually realise that the nausea I sometimes felt for "no particular reason" usually started after sexual intercourse sometimes lasting for a few days.
While conventional painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen can take "the edge off the pain", most women suffering from endometriosis say that these painkillers are nowhere near strong enough to really help. If you're lucky and your doctor takes your pain seriously (instead of labelling you a hypochondriac, attention seeker or time waster) you might get something stronger like co-codamol or even morphine. What most women are either not aware of, ignore or regard as the lesser evil is the side effects of these pain killers. They can cause stomach problems if used long-term and put a strain on your liver. As we usually get our period every month and endo sufferers tend to have longer periods than others, we use way more of these drugs than is good for our system.
If you're on my site, reading this blog, you'll be aware that there is a way of healing from endometriosis naturally, so you can enjoy your partner and sex the way every woman should. The sooner you change your lifestyle and learn how to manage stress, the sooner you will also regain your desire for sex. However, even if you start now, this natural healing process will take time. So let's look at what you can do in the meantime to have some form of a satisfactory sex life with your partner.
Communication is key
Communicate with your partner. Honestly and openly. For many, this in itself is a challenge, but it's the single most important thing if you want to be truly happy with each other. Talk to him/her about what you like, what causes you pain or is uncomfortable and ask him/ her to tell you what makes them happy, what turns them on, what their sexual phantasies are. Then start exploring together and learn to communicate during sex what feels good and what doesn't. If you don't want to ruin the moment by talking, maybe agree some specific noises to indicate "oh yes, carry on", "no, this isn't doing it for me" or "ouch this hurts, stop immediately".
Hands, lips and tongue
Remember when you were a teenager and started messing about without going all the way? Kissing, petting, blow jobs are all ways to feel close without actually inserting a penis into your vagina. We have erogenous zones all over our body, our skin is absolutely electric in places. Explore together where these zones are for you, so your partner knows where to gently stroke and caress you with his fingers, lips and tongue. For women this is often way more erotic and arousing than the actual sex act anyway, so take time and make the foreplay the main act. Your man will most likely be turned on in the process and it won't take much to make him come. But don't forget that this is not just about him, but both of you: if he had an orgasm but you'd still like to carry on, let him know. Be aware that most men do feel sleepy after ejaculation, as the body is using a lot of energy to reproduce sperm, so you may be better off teaching him how to control his orgasm until you have had enough fun.
Porn and masturbation
When you talk to women about porn you often get the impression that this is something exclusively reserved for men, something "dirty" and ideally (if at all) carried out in hiding. I've come across similar reactions with regards to masturbating. What if we started regarding both as absolutely normal and a great way to get in the mood? There is plenty of free or paid for porn available online, explore together and talk openly about what you enjoy and what you don't enjoy. Usually you get what you pay for and the free stuff is not the best. Try searching for Nubile Films, which produce slightly better quality that the usual free uploads or bite the bullet and subscribe to a quality porn site.
Watching videos of other people having sex can also make it easier to talk about your preferances with your partner. Instead of having to describe in detail what you'd like him to do, you can just point to the screen and say "I'd be up for giving this a go, what do you think?" - often an easier way to break the ice if you're not used to openly talk about sex. Slowly, those conversations will become easier and sex life will benefit.
Masturbating together is another great way to learn from each other while you are each in total control of your enjoyment, ensuring no pain is inflicted accidentally. You're in charge! Letting your partner watch means s/he can see where your hands go learning all about your best spots for arousal in the process.
For men, regular ejaculation is often more important than for women and more of a "need". Let him know that it's ok to pleasure himself in front of you rather than having to sneek into the shower or wait till you're asleep. That way neither of you needs to feel isolated on those days when you simply couldn't think of anything worse than being touched in any way.
I'm not going to go into detail here, but would encourage you to invest if you haven't already got a basic selection of sex toys. They are definitely a great way of finding pleasure in new ways.
Be open, communicate and get to know your partner in ways you never thought possible. I promise you that not just your sex life but your whole relationship will benefit. If you listen to your body, are gentle with yourself and "let your partner in" by sharing your own desires with him/her, you'll slowly get back to enjoying closeness and sex again.
Libido, herbs & hormones
A quick tip for libido and hormonal balance: Agnus Castus and Lady's Mantle are both supplements that help re-establish hormonal balance in the body. A lack of libido is often down to an imbalance in your hormone system and your libido will recover automatically once this imbalance is addressed. Ginger is another great libido booster.
Just like us women don't know what it's like to be a man, our partners have no idea what it's like to be a woman, not to mention being a woman suffering from endometriosis. Neither of us will ever truly be able to know the other side, but if we talk to each other, we can help each other understand, making our relationships stronger, more loving and more fulfilling.