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talk with your partner about endo
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Perhaps you've read all about endometriosis and learned about its causes, how to deal with its symptoms, and what kinds of treatments to pursue. And now that you've come to understand the situation, perhaps it's time to speak to your partner to let them know what you're dealing with and how best to handle it. Health Central writer Gabrielle Kassel hit me up about this very topic, and here are a few of my thoughts followed by a link to the full article.

Heather Jeffcoat, DPT

Wondering How to Talk With Your Partner About Endo?

The pain of endometriosis can make intimate relationships a huge challenge. Experts and patients give advice on how to talk about this invisible condition so that your partner understands.

By Gabrielle Kassel
Medical Reviewer: Andrea Eisenberg, M.D.

In this article Gabrielle Kassel speaks to a number of experts on endo, including yours truly. If you're suffering from pain during sex and looking for tips on how to talk with your partner about endo, read on. Topics covered include:

Why Hiding Endo Can Backfire

Gabrielle wanted to know about the potential pitfalls of hiding your pain. Here's what I had to say:

While having endometriosis will not necessarily impact your relationship in negative ways, hiding it can, notes Glashow. If your partner does not know when it’s your endo symptoms that have you avoiding occasional dates or certain sex acts, they may assume that you’re not interested in the relationship or serious about them long-term, she says. Worse yet, you shouldn’t feel you have to disguise any pain during intercourse. Gritting your way through intercourse can cause your pelvic floor muscles to clench up, which can hinder penetration as well as cause additional painful symptoms, says Heather Jeffcoat, a physical therapist in Los Angeles, CA, and author of Sex Without Pain.

Talk Specifically About Sex

She also wanted to stress the importance of being specific with your partner about how endo can affect your sex life, to which I said:

If pain during sex is a symptom you experience, you should share that with your lover, says Jeffcoat. Then, work with them, as well as your healthcare team, to come up with solutions—because there are solutions. “It can be helpful to remember that sex does not have to include penetration or intercourse to be pleasurable,” says Shannon Chavez Qureshiz, a licensed psychologist and sex therapist in Beverly Hills, CA. Pelvic floor therapy and OTC pain relievers can also be effective at reducing pain during penetration, adds Jeffcoat.

There is much great information in the full article which includes quotes from a number of other endo experts, including:

  • You Decide When the Timing Is Right
  • How Being Open Can Bring You Closer
  • Getting the Conversation Started
  • Keep the Conversation Going
  • You Can Learn About Endo Together
  • How Your Partner Responds Can Be Telling
  • Discussing Endo and Future Plans

Go here to read the full article and learn to talk with your partner about endo, and go here if you're ready to make an appointment with one of our trained physical therapists.

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Testimonial by Fritzette H.

I went to Heather after the birth of my third child. It was lucky, really, that I was referred to her, because my doctor had referred me to a surgeon for a possible hysterectomy or pelvic wall rebuild. Thankfully, I went to Heather before undergoing either surgery, she was able to fix the problem. She has studied extensively in women's health--even written a book about it--and was able to diagnose my problem, suggest a course of treatment (6 weeks), and then follow through with said treatment. By the end, as she said, I was as good as gold. Boy, was it worth it! Though uncomfortable to talk about, much less write about, it is worth getting the word out there. If you have painful intercourse, especially after birth or other trauma, the treatment may be as simple as Physical Therapy (with Heather, of course). I highly recommend her.

-- Fritzette H., 3/24/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by A.B.

Before I was referred to Heather Jeffcoat I was living in a nightmare. I had been married to my husband for three years and I was suffering from Vaginismus. That all changed when I visited my OBGYN and she said she knew of someone with a great success rate. To be honest I was hesitant at first because my first doctor had already told me that all I needed to do was order dilators from the internet and I should overcome my problem. She was wrong because I had followed the book on how to use the dilators with absolutely no advancements in my condition. However, that all changed when I went in for my first visit and Heather took the time to explain my condition and how we were going to work together to overcome it.

I remember leaving her office with a glimmer of hope that I could live a normal life. As my sessions continued I began to see immediate results. With only four sessions and a strict dedication to my home programs I was cured of Vaginismus. In the beginning of this process I was made aware that my health insurance company might not cover the costs, which was disappointing but today I can say one hundred percent that it was the best money I ever spent. Now thanks to Heather I am finally enjoying my life to the fullest with my husband. Thank you Heather, I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate all that you have done for me. I will never forget it. Those who are suffering from these types of conditions don’t be afraid because she makes you feel so comfortable and the end result is worth it. Good luck to you all and I hope you experience the success I have.
-- A.B.

Testimonial by S.B.

As someone who suffered the debilitating physical and emotional effects of vaginismus (as well as a complicated history of back injuries) for more than 15 years, I thought a "normal" life was just a fantasy. Then I found Heather.

Read more: Testimonial by S.B.

Testimonial by Amanda W.

Heather's unique physical therapy program literally changed my life! After years of struggling with vaginismus, a condition that made it impossible for me to have intercourse and very difficult to use tampons without pain, a gynecologist referred me to Heather. I was nervous for my first appointment, but Heather's professional and friendly demeanor put me at ease. She did a great job explaining each technique she was using to help my muscles relax. Heather uses a combination of internal and external stretches and exercises to relax the pelvic floor and build muscle strength. Her specially developed home program helped me quickly recover from an issue that seemed insurmountable before meeting Heather. She was optimistic about my progress and incredibly encouraging. Less than 6 months after my first session, I was able to have pain-free sex for the first time in my life! If you are suffering from vaginismus or any other pelvic floor issues, I highly recommend making an appointment with Heather and reading her book!

-- Amanda W., 2/15/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by J.B.

My husband and I were having problems with painful intercourse. My therapist recommended that I go and get a pelvic floor evaluation from a physical therapist. Having never been treated by a physical therapist, I wondered how this really was going to help me. My husband who is a physician was very supportive and agreed that a PT evaluation would be a great idea. So i made the appointment and was blown away by what I learned. I had no idea that pelvic floor muscles could get tight and have trigger points just like any other muscle in the body. I'm a massage therapist and very familiar with tight muscles, and this new thought really amazed me. Heather's program to help relax and strengthen these muscles made such a difference. I can say that I am 100% pain free during intercourse now. Yippee! Going to the PT appointments and doing the at-home exercises was definitely a discipline, but it's 100% worth it! The rewards are amazing.

-- J.B.

Testimonial by R.H.

No one could tell me why I was having pain during sex--sharp pain, not just uncomfortable, pain. I was referred to Heather Jeffcoat after researching several different options. I had seen a specialist who told me physical therapy would not help and my only option was surgery. I really didn't want to go that route, so when we got a referral, I decided to try it--it can't hurt, I thought. I am so glad I did. She diagnosed the problem right away, which was a relief in itself.

To know why I was having pain eased my mind immensely. And to hear that she could fix it without surgery was another relief. She said she could fix the problem in 6 weeks. I think it was actually 4 for me. She was very methodical, and treated me as an intelligent human being capable of participating in my own recovery. I would absolutely recommend her to anyone. She did not try to prolong my session numbers, she worked hard to accommodate my schedule (and the fact that I had to bring a baby to sessions), and she was completely honest the entire time. It is so hard to find someone with these characteristics, much less a professional who is so good at what she does. She has my highest respect.

-- R.H.

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