How to Have Great Sex If You Deal With Chronic Pain

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If you have a partner, Dr. Rafie also suggests broaching the idea of masturbating alongside them while they have their own solo sex moment. This can be superhot in its own right while also allowing you to move at your own pace and stay in a comfy position.

5. Plan for intimacy at your “sexual peak.”

Before you cringe at the concept of scheduling sex, know that it doesn’t have to feel like prepping for a standing meeting—seriously. Think of it like planning a vacation or a party instead: There’s a degree of exciting anticipation and the opportunity for everyone to show up feeling their best.

Scheduling sex also allows you to choose a time when you’re most likely to be feeling well and in the mood, which Dr. Phillips calls your “sexual peak.” For example: Maybe you used to have sex before bed, but now you find that you’re totally zapped by nighttime and you have more energy and less pain when you wake up—that would be a great time to schedule sex, at whatever cadence feels right to you.

With sex time on the calendar, you can also plan to do certain things beforehand to make yourself more physically comfortable, like hop into a warm bath or shower, get your heating pad going, or take your pain meds. Consider it all just a little extra in the way of foreplay.

6. But leave room for some spontaneity too.

Even if you plan to have sex every Wednesday morning, for instance, there will probably come a Wednesday when you wake up feeling crappy and choose to skip it (totally okay). And in much the same way, you might also find yourself unexpectedly pain-free on a random Tuesday night—which may turn out to be a great time to have sex (also okay).

“It’s best to stay flexible and be willing to get creative with what works for you and your partner [if you have one],” Dr. Phillips says.

7. Find a new way in (and out).

A cool thing about partnered sex is there are so many different ways to have it—and getting creative about your positioning with penetrative moves can make it feel like less of a stretch, physically.

If you have back pain, for example, and you’re going to be the receiving partner, Dr. Phillips suggests lying stomach-side down on a wedge sex pillow or just leaning over the bed while standing up so that your partner has access from behind—both of which are positions that can put less pressure on your back than missionary. (Another option is child’s pose, which can give you more control over the positioning of your back.) Or, if pelvic pain is making certain positions feel dicey, Dr. Phillips suggests hopping on top, so you can control the depth of penetration and keep it shallow. Sex ramps and chaises—big curved pillows and lounge chairs, respectively, that can prop up certain body parts—can also come in handy for finding (and holding) more comfy moves.

If you’re struggling to find a pain-free position, think about what typically feels best for your body in everyday life, Dr. Phillips says, and then see how you might adapt it to become something that works for you in bed (or how your partner might fit their body around yours). And remember: It’s always an option to swap the in-n-out for oral sex and fingering, Dr. Cobb says. If you have a clitoris, you can ask a partner to focus on stimulation there or explore other erogenous zones, like your neck, breasts, or perineum (the area between your vulva and your anus).

Whatever you land on, be sure to keep the lines of communication open once you get into it, Dr. Phillips adds. Some experiments could very well fail, but with each one, you’ll learn something new. After all, there are plenty of different routes to pleasure, and any one of them is likely a welcome detour from the pain.


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