Sex + pain relief? Win/win!
Sex has the capacity to alleviate pain. As arousal heightens, oxytocin levels spike, and research suggests that pain thresholds double during sexual activity. Additionally, the muscle contractions during orgasm can induce a state of physical relaxation during the resolution phase that follows.
"This is why many people report that masturbating can alleviate menstrual cramps and people of all genders report that sex helps to reduce headaches and body aches," says sexologist Dr. Jess.
The sex positions best suited to alleviate pain are those that are most likely to facilitate pleasure and orgasm. For people with vulvas and clitorises, these generally include positions that enable rubbing and grinding.
"For example, The Coital Alignment Technique (CAT)... assume the missionary position and allow the penetrative partner to slide upwards so that the partner with the clitoris can squeeze their legs together and grind against their pelvic bone," says Dr. Jess.
For people with penises, positions that allow for rhythmic thrusting often lead to orgasm, but bear in mind that every body is unique. And note that all sex positions have the capacity to alleviate pain as long as you're not adding any pressure or strain to the entire body.
There are several sex positions similar to yoga poses that can relieve existing pain; plus, one good additional goal is to find sex positions that do not exacerbate existing pain. Know where you are hurting and avoid stressing out that part of your body.
"For example, if you are having lower back pain, avoid being on top in cowgirl or reverse cowgirl position as this will stress your already tender back muscles. Instead, try missionary position or spooning and have plenty of pillows on hand to support your lower back," says sexpert Coleen Singer of sssh.com.
Whether it's cramps or a headache, these 7 sex positions can help alleviate pain and replace it with pleasure.
1. Doggy Style Sex Position
Those who have taken yoga classes have most likely been taught the "Cat-Cow" pose. As the name implies, the pose looks like a cat stretching its back.
"Doggy style lets you cat and cow. Plus, a Waterloo University study found it's good for people who have pain when sitting for a long period of time. The study also found that on your hands, rather than the collapsed forearm version, was better," says Singer.
2. Legs Up Missionary Sex Position
Another sex position that's basically yoga.
"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," says Singer.
3. Supportive Missionary Sex Position
Take the strain off your back and hips by adding supportive pillows or blankets.
"These can be used to keep your legs elevated, which can relieve hip and back strain. Or place them under your stomach if you're in doggy style to help elevate your hips, which also gives him better access to stimulating your clit and G-spot," says Antonia Hall, MA, psychologist, relationship expert and sexpert, and the award-winning author of The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life.
4. Aligned Spine Sex Position
It can be easy to twist and wrench things in the heat of the moment.
"Try to keep your spine aligned while you and your sweetie are going at it. Small adjustments — like lowering your hips or wrapping your legs around his body — can take the pressure off of hip muscles or your back," says Hall.
5. Variety Sex Positions
"Staying in the same sex position for too long can lead to strains or pulled muscles. Mix it up and move from position to position to prevent overworking any one particular area," says Hall.
6. Controlled Movement Sex Positions
When you are controlling the movement, it's the great way to alleviate aches and pains. Keep this in mind and have the person who has back or other pain control the positions to find the one that best works for them. This is especially true with knees and hips.
7. Limited Leg Sex Positions
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If you have back or side pains, lifting your legs can make things worse. Try to say in positions that limit lifting of your legs, or use your partner's body to support your legs.