Having your stomach hurt after sex could become a reason to avoid intimacy with your partner. It also may not make much sense to you that your stomach is hurting during or after having sex as it seems like an unusual symptom. Today we are going to talk about dyspareunia which means pain that occurs during penetration, during sexual activity, possible causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
What Is Dyspareunia?
Dyspareunia is a medical term that describes pain that occurs during sexual activity and deep dyspareunia is used to describe pain felt way down deep inside and most commonly occurring during penetration or deep thrusts. Pain or discomfort resulting from sex can occur during sex or can last for hours afterward.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 3 out of 4 women experience pain during sex at some time during their life.
Women may feel pain or discomfort superficially around the entrance to the vagina, along the inside of the vagina, or deep inside of her abdomen. The pain can feel like a sharp stabbing knife, a burning sensation, a deep lingering ache in the stomach, or like the cramping felt during her menstrual.
What Causes a Stomach Ache After Sex?
If you experience abdominal pain during or after sex, it may be due to something as simple as the sexual position you are using or it may be the result of a condition that requires medical attention. Some of the women’s health issues that may attribute to stomach cramps or abdominal pain after sex include:
- Ovarian cysts;
- Bladder issues;
- Bowel issues;
- Uterine fibroids.
What Are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths that can be found in or on the uterus. They affect approximately 70% of Caucasian women and 80% of African American women during their lifetimes.
Many women do not know they have myomas because they do not experience any associated symptoms. However, others suffer pelvic pain and pressure, heavy bleeding, back pain, and other symptoms that reduce their quality of life.
Fibroids and Painful Sex
The presence of uterine fibroids can inhibit a woman’s sex life, as well as her partner’s, by causing pressure, pain, discomfort, and even stomach aches during and after sex.
You may be wondering how fibroids can cause stomach aches and cramps after sex and it all adds up to size and location. Fibroids can range in size from tiny like a bead to as large as a small watermelon.
They can also grow in various places in and on the uterus and exert pressure on other organs and adjacent pelvic nerves. Fibroids that grow near the top of the uterus are most likely the culprits that cause stomach and upper abdominal pain. These myomas when very large can exert pressure on the blood supply of the gut (including the stomach) and cause not only stomach/abdominal pain but the loss of appetite.
Fibroids that are located near the vagina and cervix can cause pain that feels sharp and stab-like or burning. These are the ones that can cause painful sex or dyspareunia.
When a dominant fibroid is located at the back of the uterus it can cause low back and buttock pain, but it can also press on the colon to cause gastrointestinal complaints, e.g. chronic constipation, and bloating. It can also change the actual position (tilt) of the uterus. Like a tomato plant that is pulled to one side by a large tomato, a large fibroid can change the tilt of the uterus. A retroverted uterus means it is tilted toward the back of the pelvis. This condition can also occur naturally.
Sexual Dysfunction From Uterine Fibroids
There is a link between uterine fibroids and sexual dysfunction. Women with fibroids reported higher pain levels and lower satisfaction levels during sex than women without fibroids.
When polled in a Multi-National study, 43% of women (overall) indicated that their sex life was negatively impacted by fibroids and 60% of African American women reported that fibroids adversely affected their sex lives.
Fibroids Can Inhibit Fertility
Fibroids can also cause the uterus to become misshapen, which can lead to fertility issues. Fibroid tumors that are located centrally within the uterus can deform the uterine cavity. This mechanism is not too dissimilar from how an intrauterine device (IUD) works to prevent pregnancy.
Fibroids Can Make You Lose Sleep
Uterine fibroids often cause increased urinary frequency, nocturia (waking up to urinate), or even urinary incontinence. This is due to fibroids located in the front of the uterus pressing upon the bladder like a paperweight. The increased pressure upon the bladder limits the amount of urine into the bladder making the woman have to go more frequently. In addition, the increased pressure that the fibroid has on the bladder may cause her to leak urine. Waking up multiple times at night will affect a woman’s ability to get a good night’s sleep and often affect her performance of duties the following day.
Treatments For Stomach Pain Occurring After Sex
If you suspect that myomas may be the source of your pain during sex or after, their presence can be confirmed using an MRI which will also reveal their sizes and locations.
Many women are diagnosed with fibroids by their OB-GYN during a routine pelvic exam or office pelvic ultrasound. If they are experiencing significant symptoms they are often advised to have surgery and usually given two options: a hysterectomy or a myomectomy.
There is also a safer, non-surgical, outpatient treatment option called uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). If you are wondering why the OB/GYN typically only recommends surgery to the patient, it is usually because they are surgeons, and they are not trained in these less invasive treatment options.
UFE Can Help Stop Fibroids From Being A Pain In Your Sex Life
The uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) procedure is performed by an Interventional Radiologist and does not require any overnight hospital stay. Patients return home the same day to begin their short recovery of 5-7 days.
During the UFE procedure, the blood supply that the fibroids must have to grow is cut off and they immediately die off. As this occurs, the fibroids soften and shrink; resulting in the resolution of a woman’s fibroid symptoms. UFE can address all types and sizes of leiomyomas, including those hard to reach or embedded in the uterine walls.
UFE is 90% effective in eliminating painful symptoms caused by fibroids including stomach aches after sex. If you think you are suffering from fibroids, contact us today for a consultation. We are here to help you get your life back!