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Disability / Polyamory / Sex

Getting Sexy When Endometriosis Makes Sex Hurt

Through this, and with the help of my partners along the way, I remembered that my body and its experience are controlled by me—not endometriosis.

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Written by Nikita Andester.

Art by Marina Manoukian.

I’ve always loved having sex. Even endometriosis, in all its misery, never managed to dampen my desire. So, after a total hysterectomy, I had no plans to let little things like surgical menopause and not having a cervix change my tune. I was my usual, rip-roaring self, eager for lovin’ within two months. But just to be safe, I waited a few extra weeks after my surgeon gave me the green light.

It was still too soon.

After only enjoying penetration again twice, my vaginal cuff tore. I thought I understood pain—I had six surgeries and a disease that had once given me a 20-month period—but I was wrong. The pain swallowed me, and I had to heal all over again from a seventh surgery to fix the tear. My chronic pain had a new layer. For 10 years, endometriosis had given me long periods, inflammation, nausea, endo belly, bladder pain, and unpredictable flare-ups, but I’d always felt lucky. I had no pain during sex. That final surgery changed everything.

My vagina suddenly ended in a massive scar. In the months following that latest surgery, penetration was off the table—not even a pinky. Suddenly, as a queer, polyamorous person with an AMAB spouse, I had to completely rework my relationship with sex from the bottom up.

Suddenly, as a queer, polyamorous person with an AMAB spouse, I had to completely rework my relationship with sex from the bottom up.

Naturally, I over-thought it. In bed with lovers, I’d be rolling in anxiety over how to explain my boundaries, pain, and fear. Menopause wasn’t helping; my body was changing, my hormones a fraction of what they used to be. It left me so lonely I struggled with suicidal ideation, even when my mouth danced between two happy bodies. I was suddenly terrified of “ruining” things for my husband and our partners. I wanted to want it. I wanted it to be easy. But as menopause progressed and the doctor gave me a fresh green light for penetration, it seemed like pain was here to stay.

Group sex and play parties became a beacon for rediscovering pleasure. When penetration hurts, or you want to be sexy without a swarm of attention on yourself, it’s thrilling to enter a space where boundaries reign, and where you’re encouraged to show up exactly as is and engage as much (or as little) as you want. Group sex can be an exercise in communication, boundaries, and consent, taking the lens off your own pleasure, and pouring it onto multiple others.

Through this, and with the help of my partners along the way, I remembered that my body and its experience are controlled by me—not endometriosis, not menopause, and sure as hell not the gnarled scar inside me. I leaned into sexual friendships. I opened up to my husband and our partner about my loneliness and anxiety. Each time I struggled with feeling like enough, or with pain and shame, I realized something: I didn’t fundamentally lack anything. Pain or no, the rest of my body had nerve endings, and I still had my mind, my fingers, and my lush (scarred) belly.

With these moments and partners and sexual friendships, I carved a space for my current sexual self, someone more joyful than the person I was even before those last two surgeries. Whether solo, with my life partner, or with 30 naked humans across a split-level home, I started being sillier in my intimacy. My husband and I have always been goofy lovers, laughing and play-fighting and improvising songs even as we start to take off clothes. Over the past two years, that silliness has bloomed in me and sweetened my relationship to sex again in a way I was afraid I couldn’t.

Silliness and laughter helped me reclaim the power in sex, adding levity to a joy that my surgeries riddled with tension and self-doubt.

It’s not that I don’t hold sexual moments as beautiful or sacred; it’s that I find so much beauty in them that to not laugh along the way feels wrong. Silliness and laughter helped me reclaim the power in sex, adding levity to a joy that my surgeries riddled with tension and self-doubt. Pleasure often comes with pain, anyway—I do ask to be slapped sometimes. I like a little salt on my life cookie. If I can’t laugh while I’m having sex, even when a scar deep inside me aches, then when can I?

This past year I’ve embraced the juiciest sex of my life (regardless of menopause making me need to add a little coconut oil here and there). Having such a gracious spouse and wonderful partners is a privilege; I know many people who are navigating endometriosis solo. But I also know that, even without that support system in my life, endometriosis has nurtured something in me that all of us spoonie babes carry: resilience and power. We create our own levity. I sought those lovers out. I chose vulnerability with my spouse when my post-op depression reached a boiling point. Under all those endometriosis growths and scar tissue, we’re made of strong shit. It’s in our hands to shiver under someone’s touch, to tilt our faces up to receive a kiss. Intimacy, in all its forms, heals. Laughter helps.

Taking penetration of any kind off the table reshaped sex for me—even now that I can have limited penetrative sex. If however you enjoyed sex before isn’t serving that sweet, powerful, chronically ill bod, create a new definition of it. Roleplay as a bear emerging from hibernation, invite a few new bedfellows over and do improv together naked, take a bubble bath for three, or just take yourself out on one sultry-ass date.

Endometriosis impacts one in 10 of us with uteruses, and we don’t have to resign ourselves to fear and anxiety in our sex lives. Being chronically ill already makes things hard enough, and we deserve the glory of good lovin’, however we choose to define it. Just be sure to laugh a little along the way.


About the Author

Nikita Andester is a full-time RVer in the Bay Area. As an author, blogger, and model, her work explores sexuality, grief, identity, and the environment. You can find her creative work at Wild Musette, Argot Magazine and her website, nikitaandester.com. When not writing, she can be found making music, eating books, and trying to taste every color and texture she sees.

Follow on IG: @hysterectomyhoney | Follow on Twitter: @


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