By Airial Clatney
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Endometriosis (ED), it is a medical condition that happens when tissue similar to what lines the inside of the uterus, which is called the endometrium, grows outside of the uterus, like on the ovaries, pelvic lining and fallopian tubes. For many people, this causes unbearable pain and significantly impacts their daily functioning. Basically, the endometrial-like tissue growing outside of the uterus thickens, breaks down and bleeds, with every menstrual cycle. Think, having your period not only inside of your uterus, but on the organs surrounding it, and having no place for the blood to drain. I truly feel deeply for all you ED warriors out there, I could barely handle my IUD insertion, I don’t know how you do it, but you do it and you deserve a metal.
ED can impact every part of a person’s life, not only because of the physical pain that is often tolerated on a daily basis, but because of how the pain and other aspects of ED can impact mental health. Unusually heavy bleeding, painful periods, pain going to the washroom, painful sex and infertility are all things that can happen to someone living ED, and the first thing that comes to mind for me, when I look at these symptoms, as a human who identifies as female, would be my concern about becoming out of touch with my ‘feminine’. Many female-identified people with ED have expressed that it has gotten in the way of their identity in terms of not feeling ‘like a woman’, not being able to give birth, not feeling like they could be a caring enough parent, not being able to do simple daily tasks, not feeling ‘themselves’ and feeling an overall sense of unhappiness. This has inspired me to explore and educate some personal and researched back pocket tools especially tailored for people with ED for connecting with your sexual and feminine energy when it feels out of reach:
1. ADDRESS PAINFUL SEX
If pain during intercourse is something that you struggle with, you’ll want to take notes. Some sex positions put less pressure on the areas of the pelvis that have endometrial tissue, so experimenting with your partner(s) with a variety of positions until you find something that works for you, would be a great place to start. For example, when you’re on top, you have more control over the depth, pressure and speed of penetration, so I would suggest communicating with your partner your threshold of comfort and pleasure, and not going past it. Some other good sex positions that would accommodate pelvic pain are spooning and a modified doggy style where penetration isn’t putting any unnecessary pressure on the pelvis. You’re going to want to stay away from missionary which is often especially painful for people with ED. I’d also recommend prioritizing foreplay so that you’re feeling super juicy during intercourse, because this would minimize any unnecessary friction and relax your pelvic muscles. An often, fool proof way to get a juicy vagina is to ask your partner to play with your booty – fingers, butt plugs and toys are all fantastic options! A nice sensual massage (try Intamo’s Start Me Up) is also a great way to establish connection and trust with your partner and can also get your juices flowing. And then don’t forget about lube for penetration – that’s not something that you’re going to want to skip and there’s no shame in a little help (try Intamo’s plant-based, hemp-seed oil infused, oil-based Wild Thing)!
You could also instead play with the idea of non-penetrative sex, which can be equally and sometimes more pleasurable as penetrative! This can look like oral sex, pussy/cock massage, lots and lots of foreplay, the use of sex toys, roleplaying and even the exploration of erogenous zones. Clitoral stimulation is where it’s at, let’s be honest.
Last thing and maybe the most important for feeling like the sexual goddess that you are, would be to put communication first. Start by having an enthusiastic conversation with your partner(s) about how you’d like to feel more empowered during sex and feel more pleasure and give more pleasure. This should get them in the mood and help them understand that you do care about your intimate relationship with one another. To put this into action, keep clear communication and boundaries during sex, and be sure to be constantly checking in with each other on what feels amazing and what feels uncomfortable or painful. A simple way to address this in the moment is by saying ‘that feels amazing’, ‘I loved when you…’ or ‘it would feel nicer if you…’. You will not only end up having bigger and better orgasms, but communication also encourages a way more connected and passionate relationship which most of the time translates into mind-blowing sex!
Self-pleasure is like a highway to appreciation for yourself. If you go out of the way and take time out of your day to feel sexually connected with your body and mind by means of pleasure, you can trust that you may feel ready to share this pleasure with your partner(s) – or not, maybe it feels better for you to have sex with yourself, and that’s okay! Masturbation is also connected with owning your confidence and body, which in my experience, entirely has to do with my sexual energy. Try setting the scene for yourself with your favorite things – candles, your vibe, a lube or massage oil and maybe some incense or essential oils. This will help you get connected with all of your senses and lead to a way more mindful and pleasurable experience! Think of it like meditation for your pussy.
3. SELF CARE
Masturbation is undoubtedly a huge part of self-care, but I challenge you to dig deeper and start with your roots, like nutrition, movement and happiness. What do you love eating that makes you feel radiant inside and out? Is it yoga or dance that channels your inner tantric goddess? And what truly makes you happy, because it’s worth exploring the option of support ED can be really taxing on your mental health, and depression is probably no stranger for all you warriors out there, so be kind to your body and put mental health first. I know how hard it can be to ask for help, and it can be a daunting task try to express to a stranger such a personal share, but this is what makes us strong and human and owners of our bodies. So, stop by your doctor and share with them your concerns about your happiness, and make it a priority to get support, even if your medical provider downplays the necessity, because it’s hands down is a necessity (and you shouldn’t have to fight for that).
Putting self-care and pleasure first are the things that I turn to first when I experience emotional pain. You’re a badass and a warrior and I have no doubts that you are doing what you can in the moment to connect back with your pleasure center, but my hope is that you’ve been able to take something nourishing out of these words that will inspire more growth because you are so much more than pain!
Moradi, M., Parker, M., Sneddon, A., Lopez, V., & Ellwood, D. (2014). Impact of endometriosis on women’s lives: a qualitative study. BMC women’s health, 14(1), 123.