Fibroids and Sex: What You Need to Know
Painful and uncomfortable sex is an unfortunate reality for many women who struggle with uterine fibroids. Women who are living with fibroids commonly report experiencing at least some level of discomfort during intercourse. According to one commonly cited study, 23.5 percent of women with uterine fibroids reported painful sexual intercourse compared to 9.1 percent without the diagnosis.
Alongside this population are thousands of other women whose sex lives are impacted by fibroids in other ways. Understanding the potential impact of fibroids on sex life and how they take root can help you navigate them in your relationships and empower you toward improved sexual health, increased confidence, and more enjoyable intimate encounters with partners.
How Do Fibroids Affect Sex Life?
There are two primary factors that make fibroids cause painful or uncomfortable sex: size and location. Fibroids that grow near the cervix are vulnerable to impact and pressure during intercourse. Additionally, larger fibroids can create a consistent pressure in the uterus, increasing during sex. Friction can also be a factor during intercourse.
Other ways fibroids can impact sexual health and enjoyment can often include:
- Decreased Sex Drive – Fibroids can cause many hormonal issues, including irregularities in the flow of estrogen. Excessive flow of estrogen can have a negative impact on sex drive.
- Irregular Periods – One of the unfortunate realities of fibroids is that they can cause abnormally long periods, often up to 10 days, which can lead to heavy bleeding. This excessive blood flow can make intercourse or any type of vaginal contact difficult and uncomfortable.
- Loss of Energy and Fatigue – Excessive blood loss that can come from fibroids can leave those who are diagnosed more vulnerable to anemia. This, along with nausea and headaches that can also often accompany fibroids, may cause fatigue and tired feeling that diminish libido.
Frequent urge to urinate, as well as confidence and body image issues, can also impact the ability to have healthy and enjoyable sex with fibroids.
How Can I Manage My Sex Life with Fibroids?
Although healthy and enjoyable sex with fibroids can be difficult, your diagnosis doesn’t have to completely prevent intimacy in your life. Here are some ways to manage your fibroids and improve your sex life:
- Be open and honest with your partner. Articulate your feelings, your needs, your struggles, and let them know how they can help you. Don’t get irritated; learn as much you can about your condition and share as much as you can with your partner.
- Work with your doctor. Part of the care plan for any chronic disease should be the prioritization of quality of life. Communicate to your care provider that sex is important to you and see what treatment options they recommend. Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), for example, may be an effective intervention to preserve sex life.
- Explore different options. Try different positions to find the most comfortable one for the size and location of your fibroids, or explore other means of intimacy beyond vaginal penetration.
- Timing can be everything. Understanding the timing of your periods can help you plan for healthier and more enjoyable intimacy.
- Watch what you eat. Making certain dietary changes, such as cutting fat, can decrease the flow of estrogen, which nourishes fibroids.
Intimacy aids, like vaginal lubricants, can help if your body is having trouble lubricating naturally. Physical therapy and pelvic exercises can also help to improve mobility and stamina. Remember that you deserve to have a healthy sex life, and you don’t have to let your fibroids derail your health or quality of life. Keep working together with your doctor and your partner toward a solution that works for you.