Is sex an elixir for muscle pain? Here’s what you need to know
Experts say sexual intimacy during times of physical discomfort can assist with pain relief, but only if you focus on the right moves.
It sounds like an argument to help get you into bed, but the results are in: sex (or self-pleasure) can significantly decrease pain, thanks to the release of feel-good endorphins which stimulate an analgesic process.
In fact, in one study, researchers found that women could withstand painful pressure while stimulated with sex toys, their tolerance for pain increasing steadily when their G-spot was stimulated.
If you (or your partner) are experiencing physical discomfort, it might therefore seem like a good idea to get straight between the sheets to ease the pain – but when it comes to penetrative sex with a partner, experts say it’s important to look at a few key considerations first.
When is it OK to have sex?
Specialist women’s and men’s pelvic health physiotherapist Anita Bir says if you’re experiencing pain short term, such as a muscle pull that will resolve itself within a week, it’s generally considered okay to have sex with a focus on positions that are less taxing on your body.
“If the pain persists, it’s essential to seek advice and assistance from your GP, or from a men’s or women’s pelvic health physio – we’re used to having conversations about intimacy and pain, whether it be muscular or internal,” Anita says.
Best sex positions for muscular pain
As most back ailments are aggravated by the bending of the spine forward, it’s best to avoid any sex moves that require this movement, says psycho-sexologist and Lovehoney ambassador Chantelle Otten.
“Keep your back neutral and locked as much as possible,” Chantelle says.
“If arching is your problem, missionary is the position for you – just remember to move your hips, rather than your spine when in top position.”
But, she says, it might be best to lie back and have your partner move on top of you.
“If you tend to experience pain when you bend forward, doggy style is best since it’s least likely to aggravate your injury.”
“Spirited” bedroom antics will have to wait; for now, it’s all about avoiding any kind of activity – or position – that places strain on your shoulders, Anita says.
“This means ensuring you don’t roll into anything where you’re bearing weight through your hands,” Anita explains.
Chantelle advises stretching your muscles beforehand and grabbing plenty of extra pillows for support. “Standing positions might be best, depending on your injury, but you need to know your limitations,” Chantelle says.
“A modified version of cowgirl can work well here, using a pillow or sex wedge underneath the partner on the bottom to take the pressure off the neck, shoulders and back, then have the partner on top sit higher towards the belly and lean forwards,” she suggests.
According to our experts, when it comes to neck pain, the idea is to focus on positions that avoid putting pressure on the arms, thus enabling you to maintain a neutral neck position.
It’s also important to think about how you orgasm, Chantelle adds.
“For those who might undergo a whole-body shiver during climax, it might be best to switch to a comfortable on-your-back position, such as missionary, as you approach lift-off,” Chantelle says.
“Another option is spooning as it doesn’t involve a lot of movement, especially at the neck.”
The role of sexual desire
Anita says the desire to have sex plays a big role here.
“It’s important that you have a sex with a sense of feeling safe, and with a sense of feeling free to say yes or no,” Anita says.
“Feeling turned on and being physically aroused – even though you’re experiencing muscular pain – is important for successful sex.
“Just as we don’t expect men to be able to have penetrative sex if they don’t have an erection, we can’t ask women to forgo the steps of desire and arousal.”
*If you’re experiencing discomfort during sex, speak with your doctor, sexologist or specialist pelvic health physiotherapist about your specific issues.
More advice for a healthy sex life:
- Bedroom bliss: 5 ways to improve your sex life
- Waning desire: How a love coach can help your relationship
Written by Dilvin Yasa.