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Position Tips for Avoiding Painful Sex

Getting Creative with Sex Positions

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Updated June 30, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

If you're experiencing painful sex and you don’t know why, the first step is to try and figure out what's causing painful sex. Knowing what’s causing pain is crucial to getting creative about reducing pain during sex. Also crucial is thinking outside your usual "what is sex" box.

Most of us don’t think about how we position ourselves for sex until a position doesn’t work. Sex positions are usually thought of in terms of intercourse, but the tips below apply to whatever kind of sex you want to have.

Pillows, Lots of Pillows You can use pillows to put under your hips or bum, under your chest, or to keep you from moving too much, all depending on what causes pain. There are companies that make pillows just for sex positioning, and they are great, but they’re also very expensive. You can get less expensive pillows, but get a lot of them, in different sizes, and start experimenting.

Watch Your Hips If you have lower back pain, avoid a lot of thrusting from your hips and a lot of fast, jerky movements. This can be a hard habit to break, especially since almost every cultural reference to sex (from porn to Hollywood movies) shows someone thrusting furiously.

Find Movements that Work You can do this when you aren’t having sex. If you do regular exercise, pay attention to the kinds of movements you can do without pain. Maybe you can swing your hips, or bend your knees or arms, or move from your back instead of your hips. Once you know what you can do outside of sex, bring it into a sexual situation.

Stay Aligned If you have back and/or neck pain, try to find a position where both your neck and back are as aligned as possible. A position that requires you to twist or wrench your body and then move will probably hurt more at the time, and cause more pain later.

Watch Your Legs Lifting your legs can be a real strain and can cause pain at the time or pain later. It can also lead to faster fatigue. Using pillows to keep your legs up, or finding sex positions where you can use your partner’s body to support your legs, is a good idea (e.g. putting your legs over their shoulders or wrapping them around your partner's waist).

Keep Changing It Up Don’t think about sex as something that you do in one way or in one position. Even if you’re only fooling around for 10 or 20 minutes, change up your positions. Agree beforehand that at any point during sex play if one of you is feeling sore, or even thinks soreness may be coming, you say the word and find a new position. It can be disruptive at first, but it also opens up the possibility for a kind of playful creativity which you’ll never mine if you do the same thing all the time.

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