Uterine fibroids don’t just impact you as an individual; they can also impact your intimate relationships. Heavy bleeding, longer periods, the feeling of weakness and discomfort – all of these uterine fibroid symptoms may leave you feeling less self confident or less interested in intimacy altogether. Sometimes, however, the inconvenience doesn’t stop there. Fibroids can actually cause painful intercourse.
The technical term for pain during sex is “dyspareunia.” There are two types of dyspareunia: superficial and deep.
Superficial dyspareunia is pain at the lips, at the opening or lower part of the vagina. Pain is immediate, and usually ceases once intercourse stops. Possible causes are vaginal dryness, scar tissue from childbirth, swelling of vaginal glands, vaginismus (involuntary contraction of vaginal muscles upon contact), vulvodynia (hypersensitivity of vulva tissue) or lichen sclerosus (a scarring skin condition).
Deep dyspareunia is pain in the upper part of the vagina, the pelvis or even the thighs. Pain can continue for minutes or hours after intercourse. Possible causes include endometriosis, ovary cysts, inflammation of the bladder, pelvis or bowel… and uterine fibroids.
A study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine surveyed 827 women ages 35-49. 63% had fibroids. Of those who had fibroids, 22% had experienced deep dyspareunia over the past year. If the fibroids were in the upper part of their uterus, the chance that the woman would have experienced deep dyspareunia was greater.
If uterine fibroids are in the area of the uterus close to the cervix, penetration during intercourse can cause extreme discomfort.
Decrease in Libido
Experiencing such pain can seriously impact your desire for intimacy, as well as your enjoyment of sex when it happens. Loss of interest in or motivation for sex due to pain is entirely understandable, but nevertheless, it takes a toll on your relationship. It’s important to discuss your uterine fibroids, and your health status in general, with your partner. Although a temporary decline in libido may be frustrating or disappointing for both of you, full disclosure and transparent discussions can help your partner feel informed, included, and can lessen the feeling of rejection or exclusion.
It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way
If painful sex is a result of uterine fibroids, it CAN be treated and improved.