When you decide on the best sex position for you, in an ideal world it would just be based on your whims and wants. Unfortunately, there are sometimes external factors that play a role. A lot of people feel pain during sex. Sometimes that's because the actual act of sex or penetration is causing them pain, but sometimes there are underlying issues that translate into the bedroom. So if you're someone who suffers from neck pain or back pain — or any lingering injury— it's best to make sure you're not going to try any position that is going to make the pain any worse. In fact, you can even try sex positions that might help with the pain.
“Everyone gets some aches and pains from time to time,” Dr. Michael Krychman, MD, OBGYN, Sexual Medicine Gynecologist and the executive director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine, tells Bustle. “The concern for sexual pain is when it is persistent and does not subside." And that includes pain in the genitals or anywhere else.
The most important thing with any position, especially if you're in pain, is to move in and out of it slowly and try to make sure you find something that works for both of you. Jerking around and changing quickly could bring you even more pain, so move mindfully and listen to your body. Luckily, some research has been done on the subject that helps you know what's right for you. So here are some positions that can help relieve pain, or at the very least aren't going to make it any worse:
Your Problem: You feel pain when you arch your back.
Why This Works: If you feel pain while arching, you may be “extension-intolerant." A study out of the Waterloo University found that missionary with a pillow underneath your lower back for support was the best way to have sex. Plus, you get to be comfy AF the whole time.
Your Problem: General back pain.
Why This Works: Have you ever seen how a cat-cow stretch in yoga, or just first thing in the morning, can sort out your back? Doggy style lets you cat and cow. Plus, the same study found it's good for people who have pain when sitting for a long period of time— aka everyone at their desks ever. The study found that on your hands rather than the collapsed forearm version was better, so bear that in mind.
Your Problem: You feel pain when you touch your toes.
Why This Works: It means you're “flexion-intolerant" and Waterloo University found that in addition to doggy style, spooning was good for this type of pain. But be careful, even though people used to assume that spooning was a good position for all kinds of pain (because it's basically the laziest of all positions, right?), the research shows it can actually be really bad for certain back pain. So if it doesn't feel right, back off and try something new.
4. Legs Up Missionary
Your Problem: Lower back and hip tightness.
Why This Works: Another sex position that's basically yoga. If you lay on your back and bring your knees to your chest and circle them, it feels like an orgasmic lower back stretch and helps with tight hips at the same time — another bad side effect of sitting at desks all day. You don't need to go all the way up to having your ankles over their shoulders — though that will certainly stretch out the back of your legs. You can always just lift your knees up toward your armpits for less stretch and more support.
5. Face To Face
Your Problem: Period cramps are ruining your life.
Why This Works: Good news: orgasming, regardless of the sex position that got you there, helps period cramps. Hell, even an orgasm by yourself helps. But if you're like me and don't want to do a damn energetic thing on days when cramps are really bad, but also find that pleasure helps relieve them, then this is the perfect combo. You're being lazy, getting the pressure of being pushed against someone, and hopefully an orgasm will help wave those cramps goodbye.
With any sex position, as much as it's nice to experiment, don't do anything to hurt yourself. Especially if you know you struggle with pain or have injuries in certain areas, listen to your body. Sex can be amazing in any position, so take care of yourself and enjoy it.
Images: Caroline Wurtzel/Bustle