9 ways to boost sexual pleasure with endometriosis

Two hand holding in bed, to represent sex with endometriosis. (Getty Images)
If endometriosis is affecting your sex life you are not alone and don't have to put up with it. (Getty Images)

Research suggests around 50% of women with endometriosis report a compromised sex life has had the largest impact on their quality of life.

But while painful sex is one of the known common symptoms of the condition – where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places – this does not mean it has to be something you should just put up with.

There are steps you can take to safely and healthily explore pleasure, help minimise pain, make you feel comfortable, and increase enjoyment during sex.

Two men embracing while laying in bed together after meeting up using a dating app.
It's important to figure out what works for you, with the support of your partner. (Getty Images) (Willie B. Thomas via Getty Images)

"Endometriosis sufferers should not resort themselves to tolerating painful sex; by learning effective techniques and investing in toys that work with your body, you can experience sexual pleasure and embrace this experience completely," says April Maria, a qualified sex educator, sex, relationships and intimacy coach, and endometriosis awareness advocate from JOYclub.

"It is important to remember that everyone’s body will respond differently to sex, so you’ll need to figure out what works for you – e.g. period sex might even be more pleasurable!

"I can’t emphasise one thing enough: you are not alone, and you needn’t settle for painful sex."

Here, Maria shares nine ways you can start exploring and hopefully enhancing sexual pleasure with endometriosis (and if it's your partner who has the condition, these will prove useful too!).

"People with endometriosis often experience pain during and/or after sex because endometriosis tissue grows in different areas around your uterus, fallopian tubes, the back of the vagina, the bladder and even your bowels," says Maria.

"Penetration [as an example] can subsequently pull or stretch the irritated tissue, causing pain and discomfort. Sex might also be notably worse at different stages of your cycle, which is something you’ll need to consider."

As everyone is different, think about what typically causes pain or discomfort for you.

A woman is sitting on her bed, using a note pad to write. She is listening to something on her headphones.
Get in tune with your body – you know it best. (Getty Images) (luza studios via Getty Images)

As an important early step, Maria suggests keeping a journal or using tracking apps to identify patterns and triggers affecting your libido.

"Monitor your sexual desire, frequency of sexual activity and any symptoms or feelings of discomfort that you experience during or after sex. Collecting this information can inspire beneficial conversations with your healthcare provider, whilst helping you better understand your body."

If you don't already, incorporate more solo masturbation into your life, as a way to figure out what works for you first.

"This will allow you to explore your body without the pressure of someone else being there! Grab a toy or use your fingers and experiment with depth, angles and positions to better understand your limitations," advises Maria.

"It may be worth investing in a dilator set to ease your body into internal play, although self-exploration needn’t include penetration; you can focus on suction and clitoral-based toys instead if you want to."

"You can make simple, yet healthy lifestyle changes that can positively affect your libido (which endo sufferers often report declining). Prioritise regular exercise, stress reduction techniques (such as yoga or meditation), sufficient sleep, a balanced diet, and avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption," says Maria.

Shot of a happy young couple sharing a romantic moment in the bedroom at home
Both parties need to be willing to help improve things in the bedroom. (Getty Images) (LumiNola via Getty Images)

While ultimately, you know best what works for you, your partner needs to be on board with helping to improve your sexual pleasure (of course, in a way that also works for them).

"Crucially, you must maintain open communication with your partner. Discuss changes in your libido and sexual desires as you explore alternative forms of intimacy, prioritising emotional connection and pleasure throughout," Maria advises.

"Remember, sex doesn’t always equal a penis in a vagina; it can encompass anything that feels pleasurable for you and your partner. Talk openly about what you would both like to try, respecting each other’s boundaries, and regularly share how you’re feeling."

"There are hundreds of positions for you to try and you might just find that some are more comfortable than others. If you’re stuck for ideas [and feel open to it], download a Kama Sutra app!" says Maria.

"I would also recommend elevating your lower half with a cushion as this can help to alleviate pain in certain positions – it has for me!"

"Lube is your best friend when you have endometriosis because the last thing you want is dry, forceful and rough penetration – make sure you’re prepared with plenty to hand," the sex educator emphasises.

"Meanwhile, extend foreplay; this can help to maximise arousal, whilst you must remember that sex is about pleasure, and it doesn’t matter how you get there!"

woman's hand holding vibrator in bed
Sex toys can be your friend. (Getty Images) (Westend61 via Getty Images)

Maria says specific products might help you on your journey to pain-free sex. "The Ohnut consists of four squishy rings that can be stacked, allowing you to discover the depths that feel comfortable for you, whilst Mystery Vibe creates toys specially designed for sexual health issues, including pain during intercourse." But as ever, find what works for you.

If your partner has endometriosis, building on all these tips, you can play a key role in supporting them during this process.

"Do your research to understand the cause of their pain, be sure to communicate consistently and check-in with them, be open to exploring new positions, angles, and types of sex, and show patience," Maria advises.

"Worrying about physical pain can result in more discomfort, so it’s important that your partner feels as relaxed as possible. Ultimately, the last thing they need is pressure!"

Watch: 'My cramps were so painful it felt like contractions – I was dismissed for five years before my endometriosis diagnosis'