Experiencing painful sex, while common, is not normal. Sex should be pleasurable and fun, but everyone’s body is different and some of us live with painful sex due to chronic conditions — such as vaginismus or vaginal atrophy — or psychological reasons like anxiety or trauma. But if you experience painful sex, there are ways to lessen the pain. One thing you can do is try sex positions that are easier or more comfortable for those who experience painful sex.
Here are the best sex positions to try if you experience painful sex.
Before trying these sex positions, Colby Agostinelli, a Philadelphia-based sex therapist suggests talking to a doctor. Agostinelli says it’s also important to take notice of where the pain is centralized and whether it could be related to other factors, like your menstrual cycle. “Treat it like an experiment. Notice what worked and what didn’t, and try again if you feel comfortable.” Agostinelli also suggests using lube — lots of it! — and adding toys for internal or external stimulation. In addition to using lube, incorporating lots of communication about what feels good and what doesn’t, trying forms of therapy, physical therapy, medications, or other methods your healthcare provider may suggest, try these sex positions to help mitigate pain.
Sex doesn’t have to be penetrative to be enjoyable. Ease into a mutual experience with a classic 69ing position, where you and your partner simultaneously position your mouths on each other’s genitals. It’s an opportunity to feel and provide pleasure without the stress of painful penetration.
Spooning isn’t just for postcoital cuddling. Spooning during sex is an ideal position if deep penetration is painful for you. With your back to your partner’s chest — i.e. as the “little spoon” — and both partners’ knees slightly bent, let your partner penetrate you from behind. Your butt will provide some cushioning for shallower penetration, and from here you can stimulate your clitoris with your hands or a toy for added pleasure. Ask your partner to move slowly as you ease into the position and experiment with what depth and pace feels more comfortable for you.
Rethink missionary with this position, where your partner’s legs straddle your body so your genitals are touching. From here, you can touch each other to your heart’s content with your hands or just by moving your bodies, and you have the option of penetration or no penetration. For added comfort, try laying flat on top of one another. “Your body is most relaxed in that flat position,” says Agostinelli, which can help ease tension and pain.
4. Reverse cowgirl
If sex is painful for you, having control over the motions of penetration can make a huge difference in decreasing your pain. “Avoid doggie style; that tends to be the worst for people that are having [painful] penetrative sex,” Agostinelli says. The reverse cowgirl position can be an enjoyable substitution that gives you more control and leads to less painful penetration. Top your partner facing their feet, and from here, you can move as slowly or as quickly as feels good and opt for a shallower penetration.
Sit facing each other with your legs wrapped around each other. Penetration from this angle will be shallower and any thrusting will be gentler with less momentum, making this an ideal position if penetration is painful. This position is also great for building an intimate connection with your partner and responding to each other’s body language and facial expressions.
The bottom line
Remember, the most important thing you can do is listen to your body and communicate with your partner. You deserve to have enjoyable, pain-free sex, and the way to get there is by talking openly with your partner about what does and doesn’t feel good. Together, you can explore different positions, try new sensations, and find a sexual routine that feels good for both of you.