A woman painfully grits her teeth as a few tears escape from the corner of her eye.

Endometriosis and Painful Sex

Last updated: November 2019

Did you know that if you experience pain during sex, it could be a sign that you have endometriosis?

I found this out when sex very suddenly became painful for me, 14 years ago. Despite having lost my virginity at the age of 17, and never having had any problems before (besides the odd bit of bleeding during and after sex), this pain didn't start until I was 21. Yes, that's right - I didn't always find sex painful. The first time it happened, it felt like it had split me in two. It was a sharp, agonising pain, deep inside me. It was this initial experience that eventually led me to being diagnosed with endometriosis.

Painful sex (technically known as 'dyspareunia'), is a common symptom of endometriosis. But, it's important to mention, that it's not a symptom that everyone who has endometriosis will experience.

That moment changed sex for me. It went from being something pleasurable, to something I feared. It would, and still does, leave me in pain for days afterwards, and very often, no matter how gentle my partner has been, I still end up in tears.

It's not just sex that's become a problem because of this pain

Routine smear tests, pelvic examinations, trans-vaginal ultrasounds - pretty much anything that might involve my vagina - leaves me with sky high anxiety for weeks on end and in tears with the pain during the procedure. More often than not, I've had to have a nurse hold my hand and talk me through the procedures else I just wouldn't have been able to get through them.

For me, it's not just a physical problem. It effects me psychologically also. I think a very common assumption is that vaginas are purely a sexual thing; an area of pleasure. But for me, it's not. It's a trigger effect: I think of my vagina and I think of pain.

This can happen under other circumstances too. A counselor I saw during our fertility treatment once explained to me how often they see women in the clinic who are also facing a similar situation. For example, she spoke of women seeking fertility treatments after a sexual assault, because penetrative sex and that area of their body were too traumatic to face.

There are many different ways of dealing with these issues, but I think the main advice I can leave you with is to communicate with your partners, doctors, and/or those performing medical examinations. For me, it's the sure fire way of getting through the situation.

All of this can sound very scary, especially if you haven't had sex or any internal examinations yet. But, please remember, this might not effect you. Not everyone suffers with the same symptoms of endometriosis and we all have different pain thresholds and coping mechanisms.

But, if there is anything you can take from this, it's that sex and internal examinations shouldn't be painful. If you are experiencing pain, please speak to your doctor or healthcare provider.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Endometriosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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