6 Positions to Try if Sex Hurts
By Emma McGowan
Painful sex sucks. For many people, it’s not only physically painful, but also emotionally tough. You want to do this thing! You really want to do this thing! You want to do this thing with someone you care about! (Or maybe you want to do this thing with someone you just think is super hot!) But then you remember that this thing that’s supposed to be so awesome is also likely to hurt, either deep inside your body or at the opening of your vagina. Suddenly, you don’t really want to do the thing at all.
And that sucks.
Pain during sex can be caused by a variety of factors, including medical conditions, trauma, or a lack of lubrication. But, whatever the cause, there are ways to enjoy sex, even when you’re someone who often experiences pain during sex. One way? Try out different sex positions.
But before we get into it, we wanted to point out one important thing: every position on this list is that while they might ease pain for some people, they could also cause pain for others. They also all require that the penetrating partner be on board doing everything they can to ensure that their partner isn’t hurting during sex. That might mean consciously limiting depth of penetration (with Ohnut or without) or abstaining from penetrative sex altogether for a while.
Here are seven to add to your sexual repertoire if you experience painful sex.
Spooning is a great position for people who experience pain during penetrative sex. In this position, the receptive partner lies on their side with the penetrating partner curls around their back, entering from behind. This position allows for shallow penetration, which can be more comfortable for people with deep or entry pain. It also allows for plenty of intimacy and closeness, as the partners can cuddle and caress each other while they have sex.
2. Receptive partner on top
The receptive partner on top position is a good choice for people who experience pain during deep penetration. In this position, the receptive partner is in control and can decide how deep the penetration goes. This position also allows for plenty of intimacy and allows the receptive partner to set the pace, which can be helpful if sex is painful.
3. Modified missionary
Missionary (or face-to-face) is a classic sex position, but it can be modified to make it more comfortable for people with pain during sex. In the modified missionary position, the partner on the bottom can put a pillow or cushion under their hips to change the angle of penetration and make it more comfortable. This position also allows for plenty of intimacy and eye contact, as the partners can look into each other's eyes while they have sex.
The side-by-side position is a good choice for people who experience pain during sex. In this position, the partners lie on their sides facing each other, lining up their genitals for penetration. This position allows for shallow penetration and plenty of intimacy, as the partners can cuddle and caress each other while they have sex.
Who says sex has to be about penetration at all? If you’re someone who experiences pain from penetrative sex, take it off the table for a while. Try focusing specifically on oral sex, rubbing up on each other, or manual stimulation of the vulva and clitoris. Mutual masturbation is also a great option for people who are dealing with painful penetrative or entry sex.
6. Sex with Ohnut
Okay, so this is not so much a position as it is a general recommendation: Try Ohnut, which was specifically designed to help people who experience painful sex have penetrative sex. Ohnut is a series of body-safe rings that can be used to control depth of penetration on a penis or insertable toy. It’s especially useful for folks who are experiencing deep pain during penetration. Add it to any of the positions listed here (except non-penetrative sex; it doesn’t really apply in that case) to help get back to the type of intimacy you’ve been missing out on.
It's important to remember that every person is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. Communicate with your partner, try out different positions to find what works best for you, and consider talking to a healthcare provider to identify the cause of the pain and find ways to address it. With patience and experimentation, you and your partner can find positions that are comfortable and enjoyable for both of you.
@Julie — from behind is definitely a tricky one! As mentioned in the post, this is a position that can be effective for managing deep pain if the penetrating partner is on board with adjusting the angle or depth for shallower thrusting. You’re totally right that “going all the way in” while in this position is not recommended for people with deep pain, and is usually a problem position for that reason.
I LOVE the work you do and I love that you are writing about this. I found the sex from behind position an interesting one for you to choose because most of my patients who have pain with sex have it mostly in this position even if other positions are fine. I am curious why you say that from behind is a good position if someone has pain? Thank you for all you work!