Sex & Relationships

A Pelvic Floor Therapist Reveals How To Make Doggy Style More Comfortable

Why the position can hurt and what to do about it.

If you're just not ready to date, be honest and say that. Photo credit: Shutterstock

In the arsenal of sex positions, Doggy is a staple. But just like all positions, there are times when Doggy Style can be a little painful. Don’t get me wrong — penetrative sex from behind with a toy, penis, or your fingers can provide so many benefits. It’s all the hot, carnal pleasure of sex, but without putting a second thought into all the faces that you’re making. It can sometimes be a go-to that can bring you closer to your partner. But other times, it can feel too impersonal, or even rough.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, nearly 75% of people with vaginas will experience pain during sex at some point in their lives. And Doggy can be a particular pain point for many people. I spoke to Dr. Samantha DuFlo, or Dr. Sam, a pelvic floor therapist, to get to the bottom of why it hurts from behind and what you can do to make Doggy work for you.

Why Doggy Can Be Painful

Dr. Sam says that the main reason behind why someone might experience pain during Doggy is depth or friction. In Doggy, your partner isn’t always able to read nonverbal cues about how intensely they should be entering you with a penis, finger, or toy, and as a result, may be accidentally tapping your cervix — which is no joke. An occasional tap may register as sharp pain, but if your partner keeps hitting it, it can lead to bruising.

The pain may also be pelvic floor related. Dr. Sam says that if your pelvic floor muscles are too tight and you insert a penis or strap-on (or, in more severe cases, a tampon or finger), that can lead to serious pain.

How To Make The Position Work For You

Dr. Sam actually said there are a lot of ways that Doggy can be adjusted to minimize pain and maximize pleasure. When you’re on all fours, you can focus on relaxing your muscles more than in other positions, like when you’re on top. “You can arch your back or pivot your pelvis to accommodate the thrust,” Dr. Sam says. So, even though your partner seems to be doing all the work behind you, you can still maintain control. Dr. Sam recommends moving away from your partner if their thrusting is causing them to bump or tap your cervix.

And if that doesn’t work? Try slightly adjusting Doggy Style by bracing on your forearms or arching your back. These adjustments are popular recommendations from Dr. Sam because they focus on changing your pelvic floor muscles' position. This can help to make sure your partner isn’t roughly bumping into your cervix, and if you have any pelvic floor issues, the position of your pelvis matters. One of the simplest adjustments Dr. Sam recommends if pelvic floor pain is an issue is to focus on relaxing your pelvic floor muscles.

Try This Instead

If sex is painful in Doggy, Dr. Sam says you can try having sex in a position that allows you to really relax (in all senses of the word). “If a person is having pain with sex, two really good positions to try having sex in is laying on your side or laying on your stomach relaxed,” Dr. Sam says. “This slackens your pelvic floor muscles and makes more room, which can be beneficial” Dr. Sam warned that a common mistake people with vaginas make when having sex is thinking that things feel better for your partner when you’re “tight.” Dr. Sam says you don’t want to be barring down and gripping when in Doggy Style. Relax, and most importantly, breathe.

Dr. Sam also recommends the Ohnut, a wearable intimate device that acts as a buffer between you and your partner. It comes with four soft stackable rings, and when you put it on the base of your partner’s penis, it can help limit how much goes inside of you.

The most important step you can take? Communicating with your partner. In a 2019 study in the Journal of Sex Medicine surveying nearly 400 cis women whose last sexual experience was painful, half reported never disclosing their pain to their partners. But if sex during Doggy Style (or really any position) is painful, it’s important to let your partner know. Sometimes, people with vaginas suffer in silence if sex hurts because they're afraid of being awkward. But it takes two (or more) to tango. Talk to your partner and come up with a solution together.

If All Else Fails

If none of these solutions work and the pain is chronic, the next step is to try to find an expert that can work with you to ease (and eventually eliminate) the pain. If the issue is pelvic floor related, you can try seeing a pelvic floor therapist like Dr. Sam, who will work with you one-on-one on a treatment plan to help relax your pelvic floor muscles. The pain could also stem from an issue like endometriosis or fibroids, which are abnormal growths either outside or inside your uterus. For a formal diagnosis, consider speaking to a gynecologist.

There’s also a mental and emotional element to painful sex that often goes unsaid. Suppose you believe that there may be a psychological reason why sex may be painful (such as unresolved inner conflicts about sex or past trauma). In that case, it may be useful to seek out talk therapy, either from a cognitive-behavioral therapist or from a sex therapist.

Experts:

Dr. Samantha DuFlo, pelvic floor therapist