Part 1: as seen on

Imagine having abdominal pain. Imagine having pelvic pain. Imagine having Vaginal or Rectal pain.  Imagine having low back pain or hip pain.  What if you have one or all of these for a week per month?  What if you had them for 2 or 3 weeks?  What if you had to miss work or school because these symptoms were at such severity?  How would you feel if you had to repeat surgeries? This is exactly what women and girls with Endometriosis go through. 

As humans, most of us crave some sort of relationship which includes intimacy (physical and emotional).  Dealing with chronic pelvic pain often results in less desire for physical intimacy.  Some women avoid having relationships that may lead to intimacy or sexual intercourse.  They avoid dating or engaging with people who they may be attracted to.  In fact, many reduce social interactions and report losing friends and partners due to chronic pain.  These women report they do not know how to start the conversation regarding their history with painful sex to a possible (new) partner. 

Women who are in relationships often report avoiding close contact with their partners. They fear it may lead to sexual intercourse which is known to be or has been experienced as painful (dyspareunia).  This leads to fear avoidance: the women fear sexual intercourse or their partners fear hurting them and making matters worse and sexual intercourse becomes completely avoided.  Beyond pain, there may be fatigue, mood, depression, guilt, anxiety and low self-esteem which may interfere with desire.  Women often must decide whether to avoid sex or endure pain. 

What about the women undergoing surgeries? Many have had hysterectomies at a young age.  They grieve for their infertility.  In return, they feel less desirable and may shy away from intimate relationships.   Multiple surgeries are traumatizing especially when they start at a young age.  Women fear being touched and may report trust issues with those that need to touch them.  This too adds to the emotional pain and can result in disturbing a relationship.

What are some ways women with Endometriosis can battle the relationship blues?  Communication with a partner is highly recommended.  Perhaps the couple attend therapy with a sex therapist or relationship therapist.  Women who are in physical therapy will address pain (reducing, managing and awareness), myofascial and visceral restrictions, movement impairment and biomechanics, exercise programs, etc. 

With more education geared towards the young girls, women and health professionals, we can help reduce the hardship.  We can help these women lead fuller lives and less fear of relationships and intimacy.

An integrative approach to care would be my recommendation.  Combining medical with psychological and physical therapies as well as acupuncture are great ways to start.  Adding nutritional counseling, health coaching and exercise will make it more successful. 

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