Woman talks to a therapist about painful sex

Painful Sex - Could Counseling Be the Answer?

Painful sex, medically known as dyspareunia, is associated with endometriosis. Pain experienced during sex or upon penetration only adds further burden to the infinite physical and psychological issues experienced by those living with endometriosis. In fact, the research indicates that half of the women diagnosed with endometriosis will also experience dyspareunia.

Recently, a study was conducted on those with endometriosis and how they really feel about the pain they experience during sex.1 The participants of the study described pain during sex in three scenarios: upon penetration, deep inside, and pelvic pain upon reaching orgasm. In addition to the location of the pain, the women in the study also described the severity of the pain they experienced during sex. The women’s descriptions ranged from uncomfortable to unbearable.

“I don’t ever want to have sex…”

“You feel almost broken…”

“You feel guilty for having to stop”

“It contributed to the end of our relationship”

Could counseling help with the pain?

Sexuality is an intrinsic and complex part of our identity, and ongoing pain interferes with the arousal process as well as our sense of identity. Common ways of treating this problem include the use of lubricants, heat, pain medications, and changing positions; However, counseling therapy is an often overlooked effective therapy.

Behavior therapy (by trained sex and couple therapy experts focusing on sex and anatomy education), breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and couples counseling was found to be very effective. Not only was there a reduction in pain during sex, the majority of the women felt an overall increased sense of sexuality and improved their sexual function.2

So, if you have endometriosis and are experiencing pain during sex, and your doctor has ruled out any other causes for the pain, perhaps sex and couple counseling might be useful. Furthermore, it is important to remember that sexual intimacy does not always have to end with intercourse. Masturbation, mutual masturbation, and oral sex are also intimate and enjoyable options that attend to both partner's sexual needs. In fact, the list of ways for sexual intimacy is as endless as your imagination

In short, don’t suffer through pain during sexual intimacy. Seek advice from your physician to rule out any physical reasons for the pain. Therapy is an effective way to reduce pain and sexual dysfunction associated with endometriosis. Don’t be embarrassed. Look for a trained sex and couples therapist to help you bring pleasure back to your intimate life.

Have you tried sex & couples therapy for painful sex? What was your experience?

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