Intimacy during first-time sex should be an exhilarating experience. Intimacy and Endometriosis are two words that are not compatible – they cannot go together at the same time for a romantic rendezvous, it gives way for a deflating experience. During intimacy, I want to to be confident, fit, healthy, relaxed, sexy, seductive and ready to please. I have made a choice to sleep with a man I have met through an online dating app. I have carefully timed, in my small window of opportunity, when I can have sex. I have mustered up all my strength mentally, physically and emotionally and readied myself to connect with him. Endometriosis can take all the above away.
A typical encounter goes something like this:
Having sex for the first time with a new partner I need to be careful of exposure to new bugs. Endometriosis is associated with a lowered immune system, I am particularly susceptible to cystitis, a bladder infection that causes inflammation of the bladder causing the need to pee often. I make sure that I can empty my bladder straight after sex because I know that I have a high chance of contracting cystitis. An uncomfortable request, I also ask my new partner to please wash his hands before we have sex.
I am lucky that I do not experience painful sex, so one less thing to worry about, but how debilitating this must be for women that experience pain during penetrative sex. Instead, I am worried and constantly checking that underneath I have not spotted on the sheets. I realize I have, I then watch with dread to see which of the two ways he reacts. Either he will be uneasy, alarmed, awkward about the blood on the sheets or he will be ‘oh never mind‘, laugh it off and understands that these things happen. Either way, the moment has gone and we stop having sex. Endometriosis is a passion killer. He will make the comment ‘What happened? I thought you said you didn’t have your period?‘
This eventually leads to the issue of how to mention my condition, that is if I am bold enough to mention it at all, without revealing too much too soon, without scaring the poor guy, versus being upfront and honest. But then why bother going into too much detail when it is just a casual thing?
He then asks ‘What are those scars on your tummy?‘ ‘Why do you still have a heating blanket on in the middle of summer’. Oh you know, I have this mysterious reproductive disorder and the heating blanket is just for my chronic lower back pain caused by this mysterious disease. How do I answer his timely questions?
This invisible illness is now no longer invisible with blood on the sheets and the scars on my tummy from all the surgery I have had, now being on the show. It is a testing time even before the relationship has even begun and for many guys, it can be deterring.
One might say I should practice self-care and be patient in meeting someone who may show signs of being compassionate and understanding about my condition. I argue that whether I am looking for a relationship or casual fun, either way, the emotional roller coaster of a new sexual relationship and it’s unfolding of events, occurs along a characteristic path that I have become familiar with. However with online casual dating, the timeline of events, simply unfolds at a faster pace.
One thing I have learned is that no matter how I decide to enter any sort of discussion about the elephant in the room that is Endometriosis, I know that communication is key. How much about my Endometriosis I want to reveal is carefully gauged by how much he is willing to listen. At this stage of a casual relationship, I want to be upfront and honest to a degree, but I do not want to make a big deal of it. I explain what Endometriosis is, in a general, broad, matter of fact, dummies guide, easily understood way, describing little about my journey so far and ensuring that I leave out any emotional self-pity. I try not to go ‘all weird’ on him since I have only known him for a few dates.
If he wants to continue seeing me, it is a delighted surprise. Any fear of rejection I may have, will have disappeared. If I have not been ghosted and he is thoughtful about me and my condition, it is encouraging and I feel hopeful, however, I am still anxious and insecure. Anxious about the let us talk about the future conversation.
Next: Endometriosis and On-line Dating – Part 3 – The relationship talk