Endometriosis is a common yet often overlooked condition affecting millions of women worldwide. It occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus to areas including the ovaries, fallopian tubes and tissue lining the pelvis, leading to pain, inflammation, and in severe cases, infertility.
Endometriosis can significantly impact a woman’s physical, emotional, and sexual health as well as the ability to work, attend school, socialise, and exercise, along with other day to day difficulties.
Endometriosis can be a debilitating condition that significantly impacts a woman’s quality of life, making it essential to raise awareness and understanding. In this blog, we’ll explore endometriosis awareness and how therapy can help to manage the symptoms of this challenging condition.
Endometriosis affects approximately one in ten women of reproductive age, making it one of the most common gynaecological conditions. Despite its prevalence, endometriosis is still poorly understood; many women suffer for years before receiving a diagnosis.
Some of the common symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Painful periods
- Pain experienced during or after sex
- Pain when going to the toilet
- Excessive bleeding – during the menstrual cycle or in between periods
- Chronic pelvic pain – pain in the lower back or stomach
- Difficulty conceiving or in some cases Infertility
- Other signs can include digestive issues, fatigue, nausea, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, and blood in urine or stool.
These symptoms can significantly impact a woman’s daily life. One of the most challenging aspects of endometriosis is that the severity of the symptoms only sometimes correlates with the extent of the disease. Some women with mild endometriosis may experience severe pain, while others with a more extensive illness may have no symptoms.
Leone Centre’s Psychosexual Therapist Martina Bador has some useful tips to consider
Endometriosis is an extremely painful condition, where there is an overgrowth of tissue. This can result in, among many other things, painful sex. It’s really important to remember that pain during sex is not ‘normal’ or ok, and it’s important to see your GP if this is happening.
Here are some tips for more comfortable and enjoyable sex:
- Remember that sometimes in the menstrual cycle it will be more painful to have sex than other times. The best time will be from after your period, for approximately 2 weeks.
- Use lube.
- Make sure foreplay is extended, and maybe even skip penetration all together – there are lots of other ways to have fun.
- If you want to have penetrative sex, remember that positions which allow for shallower penetration are better and make sure your partner understands that slow and gentle is going to make sex more fun.
- Painful sex can reduce libido and sexual satisfaction and make you miserable. Good communication with your partner is vital. Sex therapy can be really useful in helping to improve communication and understanding.
Therapy for Endometriosis
While there is no cure for endometriosis, many treatment options are available to help manage the symptoms of this condition. In addition to medications and surgery, therapy can be a valuable tool.
Here are some of the ways therapy can help:
- Coping with Pain: One of the most challenging aspects of endometriosis is the pain it can cause. Chronic pain can be mentally and emotionally exhausting, significantly impacting a woman’s quality of life. Therapy can help women learn coping strategies to manage pain, such as relaxation techniques and mindfulness. Cognitive-behavioural therapy can also help to channel and cope with pain.
- Managing Anxiety and Depression: Living with a chronic illness can be isolating, and it can take a toll on a woman’s mental health. Anxiety and depression are common in women with endometriosis; therapy can help to manage these conditions. Women with endometriosis can improve their mental health and overall well-being by learning coping strategies and developing a support network.
- Addressing Fertility Issues: Endometriosis can significantly impact a woman’s fertility, and many women with this condition struggle to conceive. Therapy can help women navigate the emotional challenges of infertility and explore fertility treatment options. Women can develop a plan to address their fertility issues and confidently move forward by working with a therapist.
Individual therapy can help women develop coping strategies to manage these feelings and improve their overall quality of life. Additionally, therapy can help women navigate the challenges of relationships, sexuality, and fertility that often accompany endometriosis.
Therapy can provide a safe and supportive space for women to discuss these issues and work through any related concerns or anxieties.
Another benefit of individual therapy for endometriosis is the opportunity for women to develop a deeper understanding of their condition and its impact on their lives. Through therapy, women can gain insight into the emotional and psychological factors that may exacerbate their symptoms or make managing their condition more difficult.
By understanding the mind-body connection, women can learn how to better care for themselves and make lifestyle changes to improve their physical and mental health.
Endometriosis not only affects the individual diagnosed with the condition, but it can also have a significant impact on their romantic relationships. Couples therapy can provide many benefits to couples coping with endometriosis, helping them navigate the emotional and physical challenges of the condition.
One of the primary benefits of couples therapy for endometriosis is improved communication. Endometriosis can cause physical pain and emotional distress, creating tension and strain in a relationship. Couples therapy provides a neutral space for couples to openly discuss their feelings and concerns with one another.
Through therapy, couples can learn effective communication skills that can improve their ability to express themselves, listen to one another, and empathise with each other’s experiences.
Another benefit of couples therapy for endometriosis is the opportunity for partners to understand the condition better and how it impacts their relationship. Endometriosis can cause changes in sexual intimacy, mood, and energy levels, which can all significantly impact a couple’s relationship.
Couples therapy can provide education on the condition and help partners understand how it affects their physical and emotional health. This understanding can help couples develop strategies to manage the symptoms of endometriosis and strengthen their relationship.
Psychosexual Therapy for Endometriosis
Psychosexual therapy is a type of therapy that can help women with endometriosis address their sexual concerns and improve their sexual well-being.
How Can Psychosexual Therapy Help Women with Endometriosis?
Women with endometriosis may experience various sexual issues, including pain during sex, reduced libido, and difficulty achieving orgasm. Psychosexual therapy can help address these issues in several ways:
- Pain Management: Pain during sex is a common issue for women with endometriosis. Psychosexual therapy can help women manage their pain by teaching relaxation techniques, communication strategies, and pain management techniques. By working with a therapist, women can develop a plan to address their pain during sex and improve their sex life.
- Addressing Emotional Issues: Living with endometriosis can be emotionally challenging and impact a woman’s sexually including arousal, desire, and response. Psychosexual therapy can help women address the emotional issues of endometriosis, such as anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. By addressing these emotional issues, women can improve their sexual well-being and overall quality of life.
- Improving Sexual Function: Psychosexual therapy can help women improve their sex life by teaching communication skills, sexual techniques, and other strategies to enhance sexual pleasure. By working with a therapist, women can address their sexual concerns, develop new skills and techniques, and improve their overall sexual satisfaction.
What to Expect from Psychosexual Therapy
Psychosexual therapy typically involves several sessions with a therapist specialising in sexual issues. During the sessions, the therapist will work with the woman to address her sexual concerns and develop a plan with the outcome of an improve sex life. The therapist may use talk therapy, behavioural therapy, and mindfulness techniques to help achieve sexual and personal goals.
Therapy can be a valuable tool for women with endometriosis by supporting them to manage the pain, anxiety, and depression associated with this condition. Psychosexual therapy can also be highly effective in helping women to address their sexual concerns, manage their pain, and improve their overall sexual relationships.
Getting therapy for endometriosis can be immensely helpful for one’s mental health. Living with endometriosis can be a lonely and isolating experience, as others may not fully understand the severity and impact of the condition. If you are living with endometriosis, please don’t hesitate to ask for help. With the right support, you can enhance your overall quality of life and manage the symptoms of this condition.