sex

3 ways to best navigate painful sex when you have endometriosis.

Up to 75 per cent of women will experience pain during sex at some point in their lives. For some, this pain is rare and may only be experienced a couple of times. For others, it’s ongoing and can cause continuous shame, guilt, disempowerment and disconnect between themselves, their bodies and their inner source of intuition, wisdom and pleasure. 

The reason for this pain varies from person to person. It may come down to a medical condition such as Vaginismus, Vulvodynia, Endometriosis or infections such as Bacterial Vaginosis or thrush. 

Often tension and tightness in the vagina is the result of emotional residue from past traumatic experiences being stored in the body. Whether this trauma is physical or emotional, we have all suffered from sexual trauma in one way or another by having our innate sexual essence pulled out of alignment due to the cultural narratives surrounding sex that teach us it’s dirty, shameful, disgusting or dangerous on one way or another.

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Video via ABC.

I want you to know that wherever you are at in your journey right now and whatever you are experiencing, it’s ok. It’s all ok. You are not alone. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Accepting where you are right now is the first step to setting yourself free. 

In saying that, although experiencing pain during sex is incredibly common, it’s not normal and with the right support, practices, tools and techniques you can transmute pain into pleasure. Pleasure is your birthright and you are worthy of experiencing beautiful, delicious, soul-nourishing and delightful sex.

To start you on this journey of pleasure I’m going to share some tips with you that I have found to work for my clients, but before we dive in I want to advise you that these tips are just a guideline and should not be used as stand-alone medical treatment. If you are experiencing acute pain or intuitively sense that something isn’t quite right, there is no harm going to get an opinion from a medical professional. 

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Now we’ve got that out of the way let’s dive into the juice. 

Boundaries: Don't be afraid to say no.

I can not stress enough how crucial this tip is. The amount of pleasure you experience is a direct reflection of your ability to surrender. In order to give yourself and your body permission to surrender you must first feel safe. 

Being able to say ‘no’ to what doesn’t serve you (certain people, uncomfortable positions, situations that make you feel uneasy etc.) and ‘yes’ to what does, is a sure-fire way to cultivate a sense of safety in your body. This way your unconscious always has underlying reassurance that you’re not going to end up in any sexual situations that don’t serve you. 

I invite you to think about this for a moment.. How does your body feel when you feel unsafe?

Now, how does your body feel when you know that you are safe? 

Did you notice that when you feel unsafe your body wants to tense up? And when you feel safe everything feels open and relaxed? So, let’s now think about this in a sexual scenario. When you’re not feeling safe your vagina will tense up and tighten, ultimately causing more pain and discomfort. When you feel safe your vagina will relax into pleasure. 

So next time, don’t feel guilty wanting to say no to sex or wanting to say no to a certain position because setting boundaries = a sense of safety = ability to surrender = more pleasure and less pain!

Even if you’re turning sex down altogether it will allow you to surrender more deeply the next time around. We’re thinking long term here. 

Hot tip: You can become more in tune with your body and practice this boundary-setting practice on your own to start with. Any time you self pleasure or insert anything into your vagina begin by asking your vagina or your body if it’s ready to receive your fingers or toy of choice. If it’s a yes, go ahead. If it’s a maybe, check in to see what you need, maybe more time to get turned on. And if it’s a no, honour that. 

These are the first steps to cultivating a sense of safety in your body. Once you have the ability to honour your needs and respect your own boundaries you’ll then have the power to enforce them with a partner. 

Listen to Mamamia's podcast Overshare, where Flex, Kelly and Lem discuss the best sex they've ever had. Post continues after podcast.

Breathe.

No doubt you probably hold onto a lot of fear around sex and the pain it can cause. When you’re feeling fearful about anything naturally your breath becomes shallow (or you end up holding your breath altogether).

You can actually trick yourself into feeling more relaxed by focusing on taking slow, deep breaths as this will send signals to your mind letting it know that you are safe. When your body is relaxed it will surrender open releasing some of the tension and tightness which may be causing you discomfort. 

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Try it now. Sit for 3-5 mins focusing on keeping a slow, deep breath and notice how relaxed you feel afterwards. 

Hot tip: During sex breathe with a relaxed and slightly open jaw. Our throats and our pelvic floors and intertwined energetically so the more relaxed your throat is the more relaxed your vagina will become. If you’re feeling extra brave liberate your throat by getting noisy and this liberation of self-expression will influence a liberation of your sexuality too. 

Create some empowering narratives around sex.

Most of us hold onto this narrative that sex equals vaginal penetration and so often we find ourselves feeling guilty saying no to penetration because we assume that is what’s required of us.

It breaks my heart to think that on days where sex is just too painful, many people will deny themselves of pleasure altogether believing that it must be all or nothing. In fact, it’s the days where you are feeling the most tender that sensual pleasure will be most beneficial for you. 

Experiencing pain during sex doesn’t mean you need to miss out on having a sex life, nor should it be the cause of losing a sense of love, connection and intimacy with your partner(s).

The truth is, there are no rules around what sex ‘should’ look like so it’s about time we start creating some new narratives. Sex is whatever turns YOU on, gives YOU pleasure and makes YOU feel sexy. 

On days where penetration is just too uncomfortable, try kissing, touching, massage, oral, dry humping, whatever gets your pussy purring! 

The sexual pleasure built during these experiences will act as natural medicine, relaxing your nervous system and lowering cortisol levels (the stress hormone) which may be adding to the current tension your body and vagina are holding onto. Essentially pleasure is the ultimate antidote to pain so you want to continue to tap into pleasure in any which way feels best for YOU. 

I hope these tips bring you the pleasure you deserve. 

For more  tips you can purchase Asti’s new book Pleasure Codes: 33 Ways To Enhance And Heighten Your Orgasmic Potential. Asti generously donates $5 from each purchase to QENDO to empower anyone affected by endometriosis, adenomyosis, PCOS and infertility to live their best life. 

This post originally appeared on QENDO and has been republished with full permission.

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