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Help for Painful Sex and the Emotional Cost of Fibroids

Posted on October 04, 2023
Female with Fibroids

Do you need help for painful sex? If you have fibroid tumors, sexual intercourse might hurt. Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors. They come in different sizes, and can also form in different portions or layers of the uterus. If your fibroids develop near your cervix, they can make certain sexual positions incredibly painful. You may feel like avoiding sex entirely. And, in some cases, those fibroids near your cervix may cause post-intercourse bleeding.

All of these effects are challenging. But there's good news. First of all, certain positions can help. And, science is working on more treatments for painful sex. This could eliminate the problem entirely, and not just for women with fibroids.

Sexual Positions that Relieve Fibroid Pain

When you have fibroids, remember that sex isn't only about penetration. You can still enjoy other intimate connections. But you can also choose positions which limit depth of penetration. By doing so, you'll avoid pressure on fibroids near your cervix, which should limit pain during and after intercourse.

While we won't get into specifics right here, you can explore this article from Cosmopolitan magazine. It highlights 5 positions to try if you experience pain with intercourse. Also, when trying any of these positions, plenty of lubrication can help, especially if it's infused with CBD, since some women say they experience temporary relief when trying this combination.

Medical Help for Painful Sex

Of course, women with fibroids are not the only ones who experience painful intercourse. According to a study in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, evidence suggests that women with chronic sexual pain who were given Gabapentin (a fibromyalgia drug also used to target oral nerve pain) experienced relief from sexual pain.

The women included in this study had a condition known as vulvodynia, a chronic problem characterized bu stinging, burning and itching at the entry to the vagina. The condition is often worsened by sexual intercourse, or even by the use of tampons.

With the fibromyalgia drug Gabapentin, the 230 women included in the study experienced less pain; their arousal and sexual satisfaction levels also improved. Of course, the pain of vulvodynia does not have the same underlying cause as the pain of fibroids, but one factor does unite the two issues: tightness and discomfort in the pelvic region. Gabapentin appears to help women by alleviating pelvic pain, a symptom experienced by many women with fibroids.

Results after UFE

Addressing the Emotional Cost of Fibroids

Now, the symptoms of fibroids aren't just physical. They also take a big toll on women emotionally. In fact, when sex is painful, it can be so disruptive emotionally that something as simple as practicing mindfulness can make intercourse less uncomfortable, according o this study.

Still, even when you take steps to reduce the physical impact fibroids can have on your life, the emotional toll can remain high. In fact, according to a study from researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine, having fibroids is as much of a social and emotional challenge as it is to live with heart disease, diabetes or even breast cancer!

The findings are based on a comprehensive review of 57 earlier fibroid studies. And they suggest that living with fibroids dramatically lowers your quality of life. They also noted that fibroids could be considered a disability, because of their impact on mental health and social functioning. Not to mention the physical pain and disrupted sexual relationships that often come along for the ride with a fibroid diagnosis.

Going further, the study suggests that having fibroids may become a disability because these growths cause bodily pain, along with challenges to mental health, social function and your sex life. In fact, according to study contributor Dr. James R Segars, “For some women, the unpredictability and intensity of the heavy bleeding and related symptoms associated with the condition go beyond an inconvenience. Many women suffer in silence, and feel they can’t go out or be social because they may start bleeding at any time.”

What's the Psychological Impact?

Recently, an expert on Psychology Today further highlighted the damaging impact of emotional upheaval. In fact, Dr. Gail Hashmonay, a Psychiatrist at Brigham and Women's Hospital, says that living with fibroids can take a major toll on your mental health. Specifically, she notes that untreated fibroids can worsen anxiety and lead to chronic stress.

Even worse, she says? Because our society doesn't talk about women's health enough, women can feel too ashamed to talk about their fibroid symptoms. Especially very personal ones such as heavy periods or painful sex. Plus, suffering from an under-discussed condition makes you feel like you're all alone in your pain. As such, many women turn inward and isolate themselves. In turn, they may face a delayed diagnosis and heightened physical, emotional and psychological distress. But sadly, that may not even be the worst of the situation, because some fibroid symptoms are actually extremely dangerous.

Life Threatening Fibroid Symptoms

While the Hopkins study results are concerning, another study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health paints an even darker picture. The researchers spent 20 years following women diagnosed with uterine fibroids. (Between May 2000 and March 2020.) Their goal? To better understand the emotional toll of a fibroid diagnosis.

Unfortunately, they discovered it was a big one. In fact, the study revealed that women with fibroids experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, and self-directed violence. And these symptoms are even worse if the fibroids are symptomatic. Or if the women end up having a hysterectomy. Clearly, managing pain and finding less invasive fibroid treatment options is critical for women's quality of life. In some cases, it may even be life-saving.

Pain Management Vs. Problem Solving

Not all women are ready to treat their fibroids immediately after receiving a diagnosis. And that's why we're helping you manage painful sex while you wisely research all your treatment options. Doing so will help you decide which course of action is best for your long term health and fertility goals. For women like these, who decide to lay surgical or non-invasive fibroid treatments like UFE, finding new ways to manage symptoms like painful intercourse will be very important.

Sources: Cosmopolitan Magazine, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology

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