Navigating Pleasure Through Chronic Pain
As women with endometriosis, we have become accustomed to the anxiety and pain related with sexual pleasure. Unfortunately it’s not just when we are pleasuring a partner, it happens in our alone time too. Just like with pleasure itself, everyone's body is different. I decided to reach out to as many women as I could with endometriosis to try and figure out what was working and what they were avoiding.
I know for myself, I avoid penetration with self-pleasure because I know it’s more likely to create a flare; I pleasure my partner in a specific way that feels comfortable to how I’m feeling, and I have things near me that I know can help with any flares that could happen. I learned about a lot while doing research, but I was also reminded that I’m not the only one who struggles with finding a balance of self-pleasure and pleasuring a partner while having a reproductive disease. Hopefully, in sharing our different suggestions, we can all learn more about having less pain during a time where we should feel the least of it.
Lube and suppositories
When it came down to self-pleasure, almost every single woman brought up CBD. I’ve taken CBD for pain, nausea, and as a sleep aid. For me, I noticed it helped most for sleep and relaxation. No wonder that something like a CBD suppository could be helpful to insert before hand. Apparently, they make CBD lube and I’m sure there are all sorts of different brands, but the one I heard the most is called Foria. What’s exciting about this is that not only does CBD have relaxing and pain relieving qualities, but it's been known to enhance blood flow and increase pleasure.
As far as prescription medications, there are also Valium suppositories, which I have tried. I have only used them before pelvic floor physical therapy, but my therapist always urges me to use them because she says she can feel that my muscles are more relaxed. Women I spoke to that had used them before self-pleasuring did say they helped decrease some pain with penetration. Though it’s not technically lube, your doctor can also prescribe Lidocaine gel, which has helped women ease into self-pleasure by its strong numbing effect.
There are so many natural remedies out there, so I decided to focus on what women were using most often when it came down to this subject. Heat is always a great go to, whether it’s using a heating pad or taking a hot bath before to relax your muscles. If you have access to a tub, you can always try using baths as a place for self-pleasure or having your partner join you (if possible). Breathing exercises are great for any sort of pain and I find them super helpful while pleasuring yourself because you don’t have the pressure of anyone there. It gives you the time to really get in touch with your body while learning more about what can trigger your pain.
As far as things we can ingest, my two favorites would be turmeric pills or ginger tea, both having great anti-inflammatory qualities. A few women suggested cramp bark pills, which I’ve never tried. It’s a supplement made from the cramp bark plant and naturopaths have recommended it for bad period pain. Lastly, there are oils such as castor oil and essential oils. Castor oil can be applied straight to the abdomen, and though it can be useful for many different things, it can help a ton with inflammation. You can add in relaxing essential oils as well, like lavender or peppermint, which some say can help with pain and relaxation. There’s also CBD massage oils that could help with a relaxing foreplay for you and your partner, or even massage oils without CBD can be great.
Activities with a partner
It’s not only challenging to pleasure yourself while you’re in pain, it’s hard to do it to your partner as well. I’ve had a tendency to put myself aside and just focus on them, while pushing through pain and not acknowledging my own needs. Finding a balance where you can equally be pleasured and pleasure can seem impossible when you’ve been unsuccessful. Things like pleasuring yourselves while together can be an easier way to be intimate if it's too much on your body to perform acts on your partner. When you are feeling up to it, using only hands instead of oral is always an option or if you’re not feeling up for it, just kissing and/or touching your partner while he or she pleasures themselves and then switching roles after.
It’s also okay to take breaks or only do a certain activity for a period of time. Maybe oral feels okay for a bit and then you need to switch to one of the different activities mentioned. Sometimes in the bedroom, I feel like we can have the tendency to pick one activity and then feel the need to stick with it until it’s finished, when really mixing it up for whatever reason can always be fun and take the pressure off. Then, of course, there are things like toys that you can use in your alone time to test out what feels good and what is too painful and then you can bring that to your partner when it’s time to be intimate together. Them using toys on you can also be a great way for them to learn how to pleasure you without penetration, if it’s too painful in that moment.
I hope all these different strategies and tips can help with some relief, help us feel more in touch with our bodies, and help open the door to more conversations about these issues most of us face. I think it'd be great for all of us in the endometriosis community to learn more about navigating through pain, especially when it comes to this subject. What have you learned to help relief pain during or after pleasure?
Where has endo been found in your body?