dr. abayomi ajayi
Dealing with painful intercourse can be a difficult and emotional task. It needs open and honest communication between affected partners. It also needs both of them to be patient and understanding towards each other.
Severe abdominal pain and cramps can force most women to make changes in their everyday life. As a woman with endometriosis, you need to explain to your partner the nature of your pain and how it affects you, physically and emotionally. You also need to talk about your need to love and be loved; your fear of intercourse and fear of intimacy that may lead to intercourse; your guilt about not being able to have intercourse, and your fear that your unwillingness to have intercourse will be interpreted as a sign of rejection.
Pain during or after sex might reduce a woman’s desire to have sex. Many women who experience pain during or after sex simply try to avoid sex and they often feel bad about doing so. Some women simply ‘get on with it’ despite the pain because they would like to get pregnant, or are afraid that their partner might feel rejected or even leave them if they do not have sex.
Women find it helpful if their partner takes them seriously and understands how much the endometriosis affects their life. In cases when the symptoms are worse, it is easier for women to cope if they are given support in everyday life. If painful sex is a problem, trying different positions or techniques might improve things.
These may include extended, relaxed lovemaking sessions that do not necessarily involve sexual intercourse. It is better to be open and honest so you and your partner can learn which situations create pain. That way you can learn which situations to avoid, so you can both have pleasurable and satisfying intimacy together.
For the man, it is easy to feel a little rejected or dissatisfied, particularly if you do not understand why your partner does not want to have sex. Knowing that sex is painful for your partner could definitely make you feel guilty or uncomfortable. So sexuality can easily become an issue within relationships.
Not being able to get pregnant often adds to the burden on relationships. Worse still, discovering that your woman’s fertility problems are being caused by endometriosis can cause mixed feelings. That is, on the one hand, it is a problem and on the other hand, you know the cause of the problem. This means that there are treatment options.
Once you have discussed some of these issues, you will have the foundation that will help you to move on and find ways to resolve the problem.
Some women are able to enjoy intercourse if penetration is not deep, or if slow and gentle penetration is used. You may like to try experimenting with foreplay and artificial lubricants. Some women are able to have pleasurable intercourse if there is plenty of foreplay to stimulate the natural lubricants.
Similarly, it may be appropriate to try experimenting with the timing of intercourse. Some women find that intercourse is pleasurable at certain times of the month, such as in the week after ovulating or in the two-week period after menstruation. If you can identify the time of the month when intercourse is pain-free, make it a special time to enjoy intimacy together.
There is no need for you, as a partner, to completely ignore your own desires and needs. Although you may not be directly affected by the symptoms, you will probably have to share the burden of the effects they have in your life together.
It is important to find out how much support your partner would like to have, and then give her that support if possible.
But it is also just as important not to ignore your own problems and feelings. Men often avoid talking about these things because they are worried that it may cause their partner even more distress.
However, even with the most patient and sensitive experimentation, some women will not be able to experience pain-free intercourse because of their endometriosis. If this is the case, you need to seek a more permanent solution and treatment.
Treatment can help relieve the symptoms of endometriosis. But the treatment can also be distressing in itself. The diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis is a challenge, especially in terms of the availability of equipment and training of doctors to recognise it.
Endometriosis is often misdiagnosed leading to delays in treatment, sometimes for several years. The surest way to diagnose endometriosis is by laparoscopy, an operation performed under general anaesthetic, where a small instrument called a laparoscope (a tube like telescope with light in it), is inserted into the abdomen through a cut in the belly button.
The goals of endometriosis treatment include pain relief and/or enhancement of fertility.
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