In a new interview with Women’s Health, Julianne Hough spoke about how she handles one of the common but less-discussed symptoms of endometriosis: painful sex. Endometriosis is a condition that causes the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus to grow outside, which can trigger serious pelvic pain, particularly during penetrative sex.
Hough, who was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2008, said that sometimes she’ll have to "cut things short" in the middle of sex because of the pain. "It can be really frustrating," she told Women’s Health. But luckily, she said she's found other (nonpenetrative) ways to prioritize pleasure with her husband. "There’s so much intimacy without actually having sex," she said. "There are some cool things we’ve learned, and it’s literally been awesome."
An estimated 1 out of 10 women of reproductive age in the United States have endometriosis, and about two-thirds of people with endometriosis also struggle with sexual dysfunction of some kind. If you're someone who has endometriosis and also struggle with pain during sex, there are a number of things you can do to make it more enjoyable. For example, some people take medications prior to having sex to ease the inevitable pain. Or simply taking a warm bath or using a heating pad can be helpful before sex or in general. For people who may need more assistance, pelvic physical therapy is also an option.
Of course, having a caring partner who's open to trying new things, and who you feel comfortable telling when sex doesn't feel good, is crucial whether you have endometriosis or not. Hough told Women's Health that her husband has been very supportive: "He only wants to love on me and make me feel good," she said.
Equally important, though, is empowering yourself with information about what's going on in your body, so you can bring that into the bedroom and speak up. "The more educated you become, the more powerful you’re going to feel," Hough told Women's Health. "You have two choices: You can hate it, or it can just become part of you. It doesn’t need to define you, it’s just an aspect of who you are."