Endometriosis and painful sexual intercourse are related issues that people sometimes file far away, under “women's problems that are awkward to talk about.”

But the fact is that women who live with these issues which often go hand-in-hand don't have to suffer in silence. And there are even ways that your primary care physician or gynecologist can help you overcome them.

Here's what you should know about why endometriosis pain might be putting a damper on your sex life and 3 ways your doctor can help.

Sex, Pain And Endometriosis

Endometriosis occurs when the uterine lining grows where it shouldn't like around the ovaries. More than 1 in 10 women in the US between ages 15 and 44 have endometrosis. Pain is the most common symptom.

Most women experience some pain during sex at least once in their lifetime, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

But endometriosis pain that occurs either during or after sex is different, says the Office on Women's Health (OWH). Women who have this kind of pain say they can feel it deep within their body, and that it doesn't feel like the pain associated with initial penetration.

Also, endometriosis pain can hit all by itself, outside of sexual intercourse. Endometriosis pain might be caused by inflammation or scar tissue that develops as a result of the abnormal tissue growth, reports the OWH.

However, there are several ways endometriosis pain can be treated.

1. Pain Medications

Pain medications might be worth a try if your endometriosis pain is mild, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Some women find relief from over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen. Others might need stronger medications, such as prescription opioids.

However, these medications come with risks. Some over-the-counter painkillers increase your risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, heart attack, or stroke if you take them regularly, reports the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

And certain prescription opioids come with serious risks of addiction, overdose, and other potentially fatal issues.

But for mild to moderate, sporadic endometriosis pain, medication might be an option worth looking into.

2. Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy is an umbrella term for a number of different endometriosis pain treatments, explains the NICHD. The goal of these treatments is to prevent your ovaries from making certain hormones like estrogen because this can slow the growth of uterine tissue associated with endometriosis pain.

According to the NICHD, different hormone therapy options include:

  • Birth control pills Can make your period lighter, shorter, and more regular and can help relieve pain in the process
  • Progesterone and progestin Pills, injections, or intrauterine devices (IUDs) that keep you from having a period and double as birth control
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists Prevent your body from making specific hormones, which keeps you from ovulating, menstruating, or developing more endometrial tissue
  • Danazol Prevents your body from releasing the hormones that keep your menstrual cycle going

As with painkillers, hormone therapy has its own downsides to consider. Each method has potential side effects, and all of them can impact your ability to get pregnant.

But if pregnancy isn't something you're trying to achieve, hormone therapy might be a good way to manage your endometriosis pain.

3. Surgery

There are also several surgical options that might provide endometriosis pain relief, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. These include:

  • Laparoscopy Minimally-invasive procedure to remove small growths through your abdomen
  • Laparotomy Major surgery to remove growths, and possibly your uterus or ovaries, depending on the condition's severity
  • Severing pelvic nerves Can be done to relieve abdominal endometriosis pain using either laparoscopy or laparotomy

As the NICHD explains, research suggests that in some cases, surgery provides women with noticeable endometriosis pain relief but this relief might only be temporary. And procedures that involve removing the uterus or ovaries can also impact your fertility.

But surgery might be an option worth considering if your endometriosis pain is severe.

All endometriosis pain treatment options have pros and cons that you'll want to consider carefully. A West Valley gynecologist can help you determine the best way to manage your endometriosis pain.

Talk with a Doctor