Many medical issues don't just impact one area of someone's life; they affect all aspects, including sex. Unfortunately, the female reproductive condition Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, is no different and can really take a toll on a sufferer's sexual and mental health. It's certainly an upsetting reality for the sufferer to deal with, but it's nothing to be ashamed about. If you suffer from PCOS or have a partner that does, you may wonder how having PCOS affects sex. The condition impacts sex in many ways, but none that can't be dealt with using understanding, patience, and possibly medical treatment.
According to Web MD, a person with PCOS suffers from hormonal shifts. The medical community isn't entirely sure what causes the hormones to do this in the first place, but they do know that one hormone shift triggers another, and another, creating a snowball effect in the body. As explained on Web MD, the ovaries typically make a small amount of male sex hormones, or andogens. If a person has PCOS, they make more androgens. This can cause a sufferer to stop ovulating along with whole other host of symptoms.
According to the official PCOS website, the disorder affects between 5 and 10 percent of all women. As doctors and researchers try to figure out what causes the condition, treatments are being developed to help manage it. Some of these treatments could help in the sex department, but nothing is a guarantee. Here are five ways sex could be impacted if you suffer from PCOS.
1. Your Sex Drive Is Either Super High Or Super Low
Women who suffer from PCOS often remark that their sex drive is really high or really low. This shouldn't be surprising because the condition itself is caused by a hormone imbalance. The excess androgens, or specific sex hormones in a PCOS sufferer can impact desires, lubrication, and orgasms, according to a 2014 study published in the Iranian Journal of Reproductive Medicine.
Truthfully, either scenario could potentially be a problem if you're coupled. Dealing with mismatched libidos is difficult for many couples to navigate, and this where communication and understanding go a long way.
2. You May Develop Body Image Issues, Which Deter You From Wanting Sex
According to Web MD, the extra hormones from PCOS can cause weight gain, acne, and the growth of extra facial and body hair. If you're not feeling sexy because of these things happening to your body, you won't feel like getting it on and that's OK. Just let your partner know how you're feeling, and who knows, maybe they'll help give you the boost of confidence you need to get busy.
3. You May Feel Pain During Sex
Sex is definitely supposed to be enjoyable and fun for both partners, but for someone with PCOS it can be straight hell. According to the PCOS website, one of the symptoms associated with PCOS is painful intercourse, or dyspareumia. An isolated incident of painful sex here and there shouldn't be too big of a deal, but regular pain from sex shouldn't be ignored. Painful sex is often caused by an issue with the sex organs or genitalia, as explained on the site.
If it hurts too much for a woman with PCOS to have penetrating intercourse, she should try talking to her partner about modifications. A new position might be better, oral sex can be enjoyable, and even side by side masturbation could work until the woman finds a way to manage the pain.
4. Your Period Can Show Up Unannounced
PCOS can cause a woman's period to randomly show up, and sometimes not at all, according to Refinery 29. Most menstrual cycles are 28 days, but those that suffer from PCOS know it's a mixed bag.
Period sex is often stigmatized, but it should be totally cool if both partners are fine with it. I don't want to force period sex on anyone, but really the taboos of it has more to do with cultural problems than anything else. So if you don't care about sporadic flow showing up whenever it pleases, including during sex, then by all means rock on.
5. You Stress About Not Getting Pregnant
As explained on Web MD, PCOS causes fertility issues because it impacts a woman's ovulation. If you have PCOS and you're also trying with your partner to get pregnant, sex can be really stressful. Sex in this manner can start to feel like a chore and frustrating at times. Working with a fertility doctor can help, but so can seeking out therapy if the stress is impacting sex and other areas of your life.
PCOS is definitely no walk in the park and it can make things difficult between the sheets. But understanding what's going on with your body and communicating your concerns to your partner will help you make the sex decisions that are right (and still fun) for you.