Medically Reviewed by Dr. Melissa Thompson, PT, DPT, MTC
Dr. Thompson is board certified and the owner of Louisiana Pelvic Health. Her expertise is in alleviating bladder, bowel, and sexual pain symptoms during pregnancy, postpartum, and throughout a woman's life.
Have you had, or are about to have laparoscopy for endometriosis and are asking yourself “What about my sex life?”
If you are, questions like these may be on your mind:
- How soon can you have intercourse after laparoscopy?
- Is sex safe?
- Will sex be painful?
It’s completely normal to be concerned about your sexual health post-surgery, after all, you want to feel like yourself as soon as possible.
Having sex is an important part of that.
You may be among the MANY women who experience painful sex as a result of your endometriosis and have concerns about what sex will feel like post-op.
I’m going to share everything you need to know about:
- How to prepare for surgery
- What to expect during surgery
- Your recovery
- And of course, sex after laparoscopic surgery
You CAN and you WILL have intercourse again. And it CAN be great.
What Is Laparoscopic Surgery?
A laparoscopy is a low-risk and minimally invasive surgery that may be used to diagnose and even treat certain conditions, one of which is endometriosis.
During the surgery, the surgeon or gynecologist will insert a long, thin viewing instrument called a laparoscope into the abdomen.
The doctor will then be able to view tissue, take a biopsy (tissue sample), or remove cysts, scar tissue and implants caused by endometriosis.
The surgery is usually quick and most patients are allowed to go home the same day. In some cases, you may be kept in the hospital overnight for monitoring.
How Is A Laparoscopic Surgery Performed?
You’ll be placed under general or local anesthetic.
- Under general anesthesia you will fall asleep
- Under a local anesthesia the abdomen area will be numbed so that you are awake but don’t feel any pain
This is what to expect during surgery:
- The surgeon will make a small incision below the belly button
- A small tube called a cannula is inserted
- Your abdomen will be inflated with gas like nitrous oxide or carbon dioxide
- The doctor will insert the laparoscope which has a small camera to view your internal organs
- The doctor may make additional incisions if a better view is required
There are two techniques that your surgeon may use to remove scar tissue or endometriosis. These are:
- Excision - removal of the tissue
- Endometrial ablation - destroying the tissue using freezing, heating, laser beams or electricity
Finally, the surgeon will close the incision with a few stitches.
Who Is A Laparoscopy Right For?
You may need a laparoscopy if you’ve experienced any of the following:
- Regular and severe abdominal pain caused by endometriosis
- Persistent or reappearing symptoms after having hormone therapy for endometriosis
- Potential negative impact on other organs caused by endometriosis
- Infertility caused by endometriosis
- Ovarian Endometrioma
If you’ve experienced any of the above symptoms or issues, then endometriosis laparoscopy surgery could be right for you.
How To Prepare For A Laparoscopy for Endometriosis
Laparoscopy is typically an out-patient procedure, meaning you won’t have to stay at the hospital or clinic overnight.
However, there are still some simple ways to prepare:
Pack a few personal things just in case there are any complications, and you are required to stay overnight.
Typically you shouldn’t eat or drink anything for at least 8 hours before surgery.
Showering before the procedure, as you may be asked not to shower or bathe for at least 48 hours.
Have a partner, friend or family member available on the day of the surgery to drive you home.
You’ll be feeling very groggy, and potentially nauseous from the anesthesia, so prepare for the possibility of vomiting.
These simple preparations will, if nothing else, give you some peace of mind leading into surgery.
Endometriosis Laparoscopy Recovery
How will you feel after the surgery is done?
Here’s what you can expect:
- Mild vaginal bleeding
- Soreness in the abdomen
- Mild pain at the site of the incision
- Excess gas
- Mood swings
You’ll want to give yourself at least a week before returning to your regular activities, and at least two weeks before having sex after your surgery.
While there are risks with any surgery, complications are not common. But, just so you’re well-prepared, some may include:
- Infections in the surrounding tissues, bladder or uterus
- Excessive and uncontrolled bleeding
- Damage to the bladder, ureter or bowel
- Some scarring
You should contact your doctor if you experience:
- Increasing or severe pain
- Abnormal discharge from the vagina
- Abnormal discharge from the incision site
Activities To Avoid
Certain activities should be avoided after laparoscopic surgery.
- Sexual intercourse
- Bending and lifting
- Intense exercise
Most activities can be resumed after about a week, and to avoid possible blood clots, you're encouraged to begin light activity as soon as you can.
See a Pelvic Physical Therapist
Standard care is to see a pelvic PT about 6-8 weeks post-operation.
Pelvic PT Will Help:
- Sexual intercourse
- Scar care
- Weakness in abdominals
- Stretching pelvic floor
- Tapping into pressure system
This is a similar treatment following a C-section, which is also an abdominal surgery.
The incisions for laparoscopic surgery are small, about the size of a dime.
However, how your scar heals depends on a variety of factors, such as:
- Size and depth of incision
- How quickly your skin heals
Having sex too soon after surgery can be counterproductive to your scars healing.
Following the aftercare recommendations of your surgeon can help the incision to heal faster, and reduce the overall appearance of scarring.
Does having laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis affect your chances to conceive?
While having endometriosis can make it more difficult to conceive, it does NOT make it impossible.
In fact, even if you have endometriosis you may even become pregnant without any medical treatment at all.
Studies have shown us that fertility is linked to the amount of endometriosis that is seen during a laparoscopy.
Doctors use a staging system to evaluate endometriosis.
So what’s the likelihood of fertility in each of the stages?
- Stage I and II - Some women may become pregnant on their own, without fertility treatments. However, there are some studies that suggest women have a higher rate of fertility after laparoscopic surgery. Age may also be a factor, with women under the age of 35 having increased fertility at this stage, without surgery.
- Stage III and IV - Pregnancy rates increase after surgery at this stage. If pregnancy does not occur within 6 months, then fertility treatments could be an option.
Remember: Pregnancy IS possible.
Regardless of what stage your endo is, it’s best to speak to your doctor about your options.
How Long Is The Average Recovery?
While recovery varies from person to person, you should be able to resume your regular activities after about a week.
Most women will feel sluggish and tired in the first few days after surgery.
For the first two weeks post-op your doctor will likely restrict the following activities:
- Sexual Intercourse
- Tub bathing
It’s important to remember to go easy on yourself. Be patient and give yourself time to heal.
Having Sex After Laparoscopy
YES, you can.
Perhaps you’re among the 60-79% of women who experience deep dyspareunia (painful sex) as a side effect of your endometriosis.
Or maybe you have no sex drive at all.
I think you’ll be happy to learn that your sex life can improve drastically after laparoscopic surgery, and with the right lubrication.
In one study, 68 women with endometriosis and DD (deep dypareunia) underwent laparoscopic surgery and later reported a significant improvement in the quality, variety and frequency of sex.
How Soon Can You Have Intercourse After A Laparoscopy?
Your doctor will likely suggest waiting at least two to four weeks before resuming sex, though it may still be painful due to inflammation from surgery.
Don’t push yourself. Listen to your body and you WILL get there.
5 Steps To Ease Your Recovery
Follow-up care is a critical part of your recovery.
Life with endometriosis has had its challenges. Remember that your surgery is meant to improve your overall health and comfort.
Taking your aftercare seriously will result in a speedy recovery.
This is the finish line. You CAN do this.
1. Getting Enough Rest
You are going to experience grogginess and fatigue in the days following surgery.
- Allow yourself plenty of naps
- Arrange a relaxing place to rest during the day
Getting the sleep you need will help your body recover.
2. Doing Gentle Movements
Excess gas following surgery is normal. Gentle exercise will help to relieve this gas and reduce the possibility of clotting and constipation.
Walk daily. A little at first, and then gradually increasing your time or distance will boost blood flow.
3. Giving Your Body the Time It Needs To Heal
While there are rarely complications, caring for your incision to avoid infection is important.
Here are some simples steps to follow:
- Wash the area daily with soapy water and pat dry
- Keep the incision dry between washings
- Avoid alcohol or hydrogen peroxide
- Keep the incision out of direct sunlight
Following these tips should ensure a quick recovery.
If your incision becomes hot, red, or increasingly painful, please call your physician.
4. Diet and Fluids
Eating a mild diet and getting plenty of fluids will help ease an upset stomach and avoid constipation.
Consider the following diet for the first two weeks post-op:
- Bland, low-fat foods like broiled chicken and rice
- Fruits and vegetables
- Plenty of clear fluids
- Avoid caffeine
- Avoid acidic juices like orange or tomato
- A fiber supplement
Once you’ve healed you may want to continue with a diet that will help you continue to feel great. Check out our recommendations here.
5. Use A Natural Lubrication To Help Any Dryness or Irritation
Let’s face it, you wouldn’t drive your car if it wasn’t properly lubed, so why would you have sex without lubrication?
The type of lube you choose can make all the difference.
Avoid lubrications with potentially harmful ingredients as they may cause additional issues, such as:
- Yeast infections
- Neurological effects
Give yourself the gift of worry-free sex and purchase a lube you can trust.
Chiavaye was invented BY a woman with endometriosis FOR women with endometriosis.
Sex doesn’t have to be painful. Chiavaye is here to help.