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How to Handle Painful Sex With Endometriosis

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Editor's Note

Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.

Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

In last week’s article, I discussed how endometriosis has destroyed my sex life. While it was an extremely personal topic to discuss, I feel it also was an important one. Many other women like me experience painful sex. But many are ashamed to share their stories. Sharing my story will hopefully lead to other women feeling more comfortable and less alone.

This week, I will discuss some tips for handling painful sex. It is important to be open and communicate with your partner about your endometriosis and any pain you may experience. Being honest may help you feel more confident and comfortable with your situation. Although symptoms vary from woman to woman, there are things you can do to lessen pain during sex. Painful sex can cause a black cloud on most relationships but does not need to end your sex life completely.

Over-the-counter pain reliever

I’ve found that taking an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen an hour before sex can help. Taking this ahead of time, as directed, can reduce any pain felt during sex. Sometimes I take some pain relief after sex if the pain persists. Keep in mind that pain relief medicines do not work for everyone. As always, follow your doctor’s advice when taking any medication.


Some women experience pain during sex because of vaginal dryness. This can be another pesky symptom of endometriosis. Lube can help ease discomfort felt during sex. According to an Indiana University study, more than 70 percent of the 2,453 women surveyed said that lube made sex more pleasurable and enjoyable. Research and ask your doctor which lube would work best for you.

Know when your menstrual cycle is

Let’s be honest: Endometriosis can cause discomfort at all times of the month. However, pain can become even more agonizing during your period and ovulation. Tracking when you are supposed to get your period and when pain peaks can help you better understand when the worst times to have sex would be. There are many apps out there that can help you track your period. A couple of my favorites are Flo Period Tracker and Clue.

Potential bleeding

Many women with endometriosis find that they bleed during and after sex. It can be very embarrassing and turn you off from even wanting to try. Preparing your partner ahead of time can help with any confusion or embarrassment. If you know you experience bleeding, prepare a spot beforehand. Lay a towel down, leave wipes out for an easy cleanup and try out different positions that may be easier for you.

New positions

Not only can trying new positions help with the bleeding, but it also can help with your pain. Certain positions may cause you more pain than others. According to an article on Huffington Post, missionary style can cause more pain. This is due to how the uterus is tilted. However, only you will know which position will work best for you. So experiment and be open to trying different positions.

Shallow, slow, gentle

Sometimes partners are not on the same page. Your partner may be going too fast and too deep, causing you to be in agonizing pain. Talk with them and let them know what is causing you the discomfort. Try to stick to a more gentle, slow and shallow rhythm. You can even try to find a position that allows you to lead and control the rhythm.

There is more than just intercourse

If you are someone who has tried these tips many times, and cannot find a way to make sex work, there are other ways you can be intimate with your loved one. Massaging, kissing and foreplay are just a few ways you and your partner can be romantic with each other. Again, honesty is key. Get with your partner and discuss what turns each other on, and what does not trigger your symptoms. There are many activities out there to experiment with.

Sex therapy

Sometimes our pain can be psychological. For me, just the thought of sex causes me pain. I feel I have tuned my body to automatically think of pain when I think of sex. A sex therapist might be able to help you to not associate sex with pain. Of course, just like other types of therapy, it is not for everyone. However, if you have run out of ideas, it does not hurt to give it a shot. An article from Everyday Health, “7 Things You Should Know About Sex Therapy,” was interesting and extremely helpful for me.

Follow Kimberli on My Endo Journey.

Getty Image by Nick White

Originally published: March 20, 2018
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