Does your PCOS affect your Sexual Relationship?

Dates, relationships and marriages with PCOS are often complex enough for us to handle. In addition to all that we experience- acne, hirsutism and infertility, women with PCOS have to go an extra mile to focus on their health and kick start their journey to manage and overcome their symptoms. But to top it off to know that having PCOS can affect your sexual health and intimacy can be quite difficult to process. Don’t feel victimised just yet. Awareness is key. And, that is exactly what we’re here for. We’re going to take you through how PCOS and its symptoms affect your sexual life and leave you with a few tips and suggestions to help you have more fulfilling sexual relationships. 

Libido Changes: Why don’t I feel like having sex? Am I too tired? Or is it something else? I’m sure you have questioned yourself and felt less sexual from time to time. It is not uncommon. Women with PCOS have rapid changes in their libido (sexual drive) and for most women, it can be hard to be in the mood and hence they “markedly suffer from sexual dysfunction” (sexual impairments such as arousal, lubrication, orgasm and sexual satisfaction). One study found that 99% of it’s participants reported lowered sexual desire and arousal. While the reasons for this could include hormonal imbalances and prescribed oral contraceptives to regulate menstrual cycles. Other medications for coexisting conditions like hypertension and diabetes too can cause changes in one’s drive and decreased libidos. Knowing these effects, how can we make our encounters more satisfying and leaving us feeling more content?

Tips: Communication with your partner is key. Telling your partner how you feel and what you need is vital to prevent any miscommunications. Communication might appear awkward, but it can be a relief if they understand you and support you. Whether it’s a reason you don’t feel in the mood, you experience painful intercourse, your likes and dislikes. Some medications may cause higher than average sex drives, so be bold and let your partner know that you’re interested.

There are some natural herbs or libido increasers that you can explore that might be helpful in improving your PCOS symptoms, and in turn help boosting your body’s libido and sexual function. Some of these include: Ashwagandha, Peruvian Maca root powder .

Irregular Periods: Do I ever know when I am going to be bleeding? An imbalance in hormones can cause women to experience problems with their menstrual cycle—skipped periods, frequent periods, heavy bleeding, extra long periods, severe cramps, or no periods at all. This uncertainty, stress or the appearance that you are always on your period for those who have frequent periods and are never available for sex can cause misunderstandings in your relationship. Moreover, changes in one’s hormones can contribute to vaginal dryness and painful intercourse

Tips: Using lubricants can counter the dryness and reduce the pain. We also encourage including some relaxation techniques with your partner such as taking a massage together using essential oils .Essential oils play a significant role in managing anxiety and induce instant relaxation.  According to study conducted in Sweden, “Women with PCOS reported decreased satisfaction with their sex life.” The best approach is to Let loose and it will help you enjoy your sexual encounters.

Psychological blocks, body image and sexual attractiveness: But it’s not just the changes to one’s sexual drive or the fluctuating hormone levels. Many women with PCOS experience low self confidence and body image issues which can lead to a psychological block to be intimate. You may experience feeling fat, unattractive, uncomfortable or be conscious of your body due to acne and excessive body hair affecting your self esteem and confidence. To read more about how PCOS affects your self-confidence, check out this blog. Keeping in mind the symptoms of PCOS, feelings of depression and obesity also contribute to and lead to a low sex drive.

Tips: If you feel more comfortable and at ease, choose to have the lights off. However, ideally, you should embrace yourself and love your body. I’m sure your partners are just happy to be with you and would love for you to relax and enjoy it rather than be conscious and stressed. Spending time knowing your body, and understanding what works best for you. Practicing acceptance can enhance self-love can also make you more attractive to your partners.

Pregnancy pressures: Naturally fertility concerns can have a huge impact on your sex life too. And, women with PCOS suffer from infertility which can impact their sexual self-esteem and even cause high levels of stress. If you are sexually active, inorder to get pregnant and have trouble conceiving, the joy of sex can feel like a chore or a job. If you are taking fertility medication, you may end up having to schedule sex during times when you are most fertile. This could make the effort more mechanic and this could affect your libido levels.

Tips: Practicing relaxing Yoga poses can help you calm your nerves and connect back with your mind and body. The Covid times have been stressful for all of us and no boundaries between between work and home has made it even more difficult for couples to get some Me time. Ensure to take a break from work regularly and try spending time with each other. Consult your doctor and be aware of the effects or side effects of your medications – whether it increases or decreases your sexual drive. Knowing the effects of these can help you understand your own sexual patterns. Learning to communicate with your partner about your insecurities, and fertility pressures can create greater intimacy and improve sexual health.

Sexual intimacy is an important part of relationships and life in general. If you feel like PCOS is affecting your sexual health and your relationship, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor. You can even seek help from a psychologist, sex therapist, or physician, and even a support group. Remember this is a common problem that other women face too. Managing these symptoms starts by understanding how it impacts your sexual health. Open communication about past sexual relationships, unresolved issues, or even sexual inhibitions or lowered self confidence can be crucial for sexual health. Waiting can make matters worse. Plus with the right support, these issues can be worked upon and improve your chances of having a satisfying sexual relationship. Remember to be bold, be brave and talk about your experiences with PCOS with your partners !!!

About the Author

The above detailed blog post has been contributed by Nainika Seth.
(blogger at pcosclubindia)