Dating as a perfectly healthy woman comes with enough challenges, but playing the dating game with endometriosis can be an absolute nightmare. Celebrities like Lena Dunham and Halsey to Julianne Hough, Jaime King, and Padma Lakshmi have all publicly revealed how endometriosis negatively impacted their relationships—and the disease equally cramps the love lives of average Janes.
New Jersey resident ShaVaughn Morris has Stage IV Endometriosis and PCOS. “In the beginning, I’d date periodically,” Morris tells The Blossom. “I’d get intimate with a partner, and then there would be a little pain and resistance because [my] adhesions are so prominent around the pelvic and uterine area.”
Morris, who is currently single, says she gets ultrasounds every quarter to check disease progression and with those check-ups come regular STD tests. “One positive of having endo is I always know my status because I’m getting checked by my doctor so frequently."
Out of her struggles of dating with endo—including surgical scars across her belly—came Sayitwithsex.com, a blog that promotes a healthy, open dialogue about getting it on.
“Sometimes it becomes uncomfortable, having that sex conversation. I am sexually active, and I tell my partner they have to be gentle on me, because of my endo, because it can cause friction inside.”
And how have her partners handled that request?
“It really depends on the guy and where he is mentally and his maturity level. I’ve had guys buy me tea, and some have gotten me ice cream to feel better,” Morris added.
While her suitors have been amenable, her periods have not, and some have lasted "two to three weeks" long.
“It really is an interesting journey dating with endo and PCOS. My advice to other women out there dating with endo is, don’t be afraid, to be honest about where you are in your endo journey. Endo doesn’t make us who we are. It’s an extension of who we are.”
Sommer Rose, a 19-year-old Indiana-based undergrad, says she was diagnosed with endo in July, just as she met a new, and surprisingly supportive beau.
“I’m in a long distance relationship, and it seems like every time I visit my boyfriend, I start my cycle. It’s embarrassing the amount of time we’ve spent running to get an emergency stash of pads, chocolate and a [huge] amount of Advil,” said Rose. “I love being doubled over in pain unable to move—not!—when I get to see him after such long spans of time in between visits. He’s so sweet about it and lets me cry and yell about the pain. Even off my cycle when I get excruciating hip pain, he just understands and supports me." Rose says she also suffers from PMDD, a severe, sometimes disabling extension of premenstrual syndrome, and Achalasia, a rare disorder that makes it difficult for food and liquid to pass into the stomach. "I’m blessed to have a guy who loves me—even with two chronic diseases—and still wants to have a future with me."
Arielle Cole, a Delray Beach-based paralegal and gluten-free food blogger, was diagnosed with endometriosis at the age of 25 after being hospitalized more than five times over the past 13 years for her symptoms.
Now 27, she says you'll have to make it past a few dates with her before she'll dish about having the disease.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking dating with endo,” Cole says. “But with the power of the internet, it’s not as scary. I have found that most men don’t know about it, but some will research it after learning about it. I don’t tell people I’m dating about my endo though right away. I’ll probably wait a month and then bring it up. You definitely want to get to know a person a little more before feeling comfortable to mention it.”