POPSUGAR Fitness is a health and fitness website that inspires readers to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle. As an authority covering a wide scope of health problems affecting women, they recently explored the topic of painful sexual intercourse with a team of experts. Many possible culprits were named – vaginismus, hormonal changes, pelvic muscle guarding, and common infections and STIs. What didn’t make the list?
What are Fibroids?
Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that develop in and around the uterus and can cause debilitating symptoms including pain during sex and loss of libido. These tumors are common among women and can affect up to 70% of women in their lifetime. Often times, they can cause painful complications, most notably moderate to severe menstrual cramps, unpredictable menstrual cycles, and irregular monthly bleeding.
While fibroids aren’t life-jeopardizing, their symptoms can significantly impact a woman’s quality of life. So why do fibroids sometimes cause painful sexual intercourse? “Location is highly variable,” says Dr. Nithya Gopal of Viva Eve. “You can have someone with a single fibroid the size of a marble and it drives them absolutely nuts. Other people with fibroids the size of fruits might not even notice. If something is compressing a nerve, or next to an area that’s more sensitive, then clearly that’s going to bother them a lot.”
Women whose fibroids are located in the upper portion of the uterus are more likely to experience “deep dyspareunia,” painful intercourse deep in the vagina, according to a January 2014 study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. This symptom may be caused by fibroid size/location. Fibroids that hang through the cervical opening can make it difficult to enjoy sexual intercourse. Additionally, pressure placed on the uterus can worsen symptoms, even causing fibroids to bleed.
What can a woman do to get their sexual health back?
“Fibroids don’t shrink on their own, and there’s no validated research showing that taking homeopathic supplements is the answer,” says Dr. Gopal. “Early diagnosis is key. Speak with a fibroid specialist who can diagnose you, make a plan with you based on your pain points, and safely monitor your health as you try different things. Your specialist can give you information on all the medically sound treatments available that can help you get rid of your symptoms for good.”
From trying to start a family, to having a normal romantic relationship, fibroids can hold your life back in a lot of ways.