Examples, tips, communication, and more

Jennifer E. Engen

Back pain can be an obstacle that prevents a person from having satisfactory sex. While back pain can negatively impact a person’s sex life, implementing certain strategies and sex positions can result in a fulfilling sexual encounter.

Back pain is common and the leading cause of disability globally. It is also a major reason behind work absenteeism and activity limitations — including sex. Evidence notes that back pain can impact sexual function, which can then negatively affect a person’s quality of life.

Difficulty performing certain actions and limiting a person’s range of movement can be disruptive to a healthy sex life. According to 2019 research, 37% of adults with lower back pain (LBP) reported some difficulty during sex, while 7% also reported significant limitations in their sex lives due to back pain. However, trying certain positions and tips that place less strain on the back can help facilitate an active sex life despite chronic back pain.

This article suggests suitable sex positions for individuals experiencing back pain and provides other tips to help prevent pain and ensure comfort during intercourse.

Just as there are many types of back pain and different triggers that may result in discomfort, an individual can explore different sex positions to determine if they do not exacerbate back pain. A sex position that will work for a person with one type of back pain may not work for another.

Depending on whether a person’s back pain is flexion (forward bending) or extension (backward bending) intolerant, some positions may be preferable than others. An individual can experiment with different positions and identify which is most suitable for them. If they experience discomfort during a position, it is advisable that they stop to prevent worsening back pain. Some sex positions to consider may include:

Missionary

This is a suitable position for people with LBP that worsens when the back is arched (extension), such as those with degenerative disc disease and disk problems, for both top (insertive partner) and the bottom (receiving partner).

The top may find supporting their upper body with the elbows to be more comfortable than with their hands. The bottom can place a rolled towel under their lower back for support. Maintaining the spine in a slightly arched position can prevent the back from flattening, further flexing the spine.

Quadruped, or doggy style

This position has a small range of spinal flexion, or bending forward. As such, it may be a suitable position for those who experience back pain when bending forward or sitting for long periods.

The receiving partner may support their body weight either with their elbows or hands. This sex position also allows them to adjust their back based on their comfort. Additionally, the penetrating partner can limit the movement from their back and use their hips to perform the movement.

Side by side

Also known as sidelying, this is a suitable position to relieve pressure on the back for a person with flexion-intolerant LBP. Performing this position while facing each other is often comfortable for those who experience pain after sitting for long periods.

Spooning

This position is similar to side by side but involves the penetrative partner laying on their side behind the other person. Much like the side-by-side position, it may not suit those who find bending forward or slouching painful.

Cowboy, or partner on top

If the penetrative partner finds movement painful, they may consider lying on their back or a sturdy chair and allowing the receiving partner to straddle them. If the top partner prefers to lie down, a small towel can help keep the spine in its neutral position. Doing so may stabilize the back and reduce pain.

Facedown

A variation of doggy style, this position involves the receiving partner lying down on their stomach, which automatically arches the back. A person who is more comfortable arching the back may place a pillow on their chest or support their upper body with their elbows.

Placing a pillow under the receiving partner’s pelvis can also help the top partner access the vagina or anus more easily without flexing their spine too much.

Alongside choosing a comfortable sex position, other tips that can help facilitate satisfactory sexual activity despite the presence of back pain may include:

  • Using towels and pillows: Placing rolled towels or pillows under the back or pelvis can help support the spine and other body parts while having sex.
  • Modifying the position: Sometimes, a slight modification or change in posture can remove back pain during sex. For example, pushing the pelvis toward the ceiling can ease pain in people with flexion-motion intolerance.
  • Going slow: Sex is a physical activity. Therefore, a proper warm-up, stretching, and gentle approach may help alleviate discomfort. Performing intense or extreme movements may exacerbate pain.
  • Communicating: If back pain hinders a person from engaging in sexual activity, they must be honest and openly communicate it with their partners. They can discuss which movements and positions are comfortable and which cause pain. Moreover, they can discuss other intimate acts to pleasure each other without the need for intercourse.
  • Using the hips and knees instead: Back pain often results from repetitive movements that involve back motions. Instead, a person can try using their hips and knees to perform these movements.

A doctor can help explain a person’s back problems and offer tips for safe and pain-free sex. It is advisable for a person to contact their doctor if they experience chronic back pain that interferes with their daily activities, including sexual activity. Additionally, a person should seek immediate help if they are experiencing back pain with:

  • intense pain
  • numbness and tingling, or loss of sensation down the legs
  • difficulty moving the legs
  • loss of bladder and bowel control

Back pain is a common condition that may hinder a person from performing daily activities, including sex. It may make sex uncomfortable or, in some cases, prevent a person from engaging in sexual activities.

Understanding a person’s back pain and the positions or postures that trigger it can help couples find alternative positions and modifications to keep sex enjoyable and comfortable.

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/back-sex

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