Sex and endometriosis: understand your body and don’t feel guilty
But here we are. I have endometriosis, and even though the medically-induced menopause which has caused those issues is in my best interests to try to control my endometriosis, this all feels bizarre.
Endometriosis impacts all aspects of my life: my appearance, my physical and mental health, my work and social life, and of course my sex life.
Sex is everywhere in our society. It’s hyped up as the epitome of romance and liberation, and depicted in very specific ways in the media. But it’s not always plain sailing for all of us - far from it. As well as that drop in libido thanks to the medical menopause, endometriosis has given me dyspareunia (pain during intercourse), all of which means sex really can be a struggle – and I know many with endometriosis are in the same boat.
There is nothing more isolating than constantly seeing and hearing how sex should be, how much sex you should be having, how sex is the key to a happy marriage, and thinking that you are broken because you don’t enjoy that.
I used to feel totally alienated from this amazing, intimate thing - sex just felt like something I was incapable of enjoying. Being diagnosed with endometriosis at age 18 brought a sense of relief and comfort in this area - not just to me but to my partner as well. We realised that the difficulties we were facing were not our fault, that neither of us were ever doing anything wrong. We were just having sex in ways that did not work for us. I wish I had known earlier that missionary, penetrative sex was not the only way to make love to someone, for example.
We should view sex as a chance to understand our bodies - what we like, what we do not like, what we are capable of. I’m grateful for shows like Netflix’s Sex Education, which showcases young people navigating intimacy in their own unique, personal ways, including a character with a disability. The more we move away from idealised standards of sex and bodies, the better our understandings of self-worth and sexual confidence will become.
I should never have to feel guilty about my boundaries when it comes to sex, and neither should anyone else. Sex is a beautiful thing, and I am still sexy - even with my endo belly and overused heat pads.
Phoebe Snedker is a freelance journalist and a literature and history student at the University of Birmingham. Find her on Twitter as @phoebesnedker