Sexual activity

Sexual activity is frequently inhibited by acute pain. A positive attitude and proper communication with your partner could help you overcome apprehension and anxiety caused by your spinal pain. Try a different approach to making love by adapting to a position that your back can tolerate.

Sexual intercourse provides a natural pelvic tilt movement which is to be encouraged to relieve lower back pain. However, sexual intercourse can exacerbate the pain in acute phases.

To help reduce the tension, it is important that your partner understands your condition. Together you can experiment with different positions and try to work out which position is most comfortable and satisfactory. The endorphins that are released during intercourse help block pain signals and promote the feeling of well-being.

There are many different positions to experiment with, but the basic rule is that the partner in pain should be in the most comfortable position.

• The partner in pain should adopt the most favourable position with regards to comfort.
• Try a position in which the natural curve of the back is maintained.
• Avoid excessive arching of the lower back.
• Avoid bending forward.
• Avoid vigorous thrusting. You may find that the less active role may be the most comfortable, but not necessarily less enjoyable and satisfying.
• A firm mattress is vitally important.
• A pillow can be used for extra support.
• You may find that analgesics taken 30–40 minutes prior to sexual activity or taking a warm bath may be beneficial in lessening pain and alleviating the fear of pain.
• If sexual intercourse causes increased pain, non-penetrative sexual activity can be just as satisfying.
• For further advice or to discuss specific problems with regards to back pain and sexual activity, a health professional or sex therapist should be consulted.

These illustrated sexual positions can be helpful for people experiencing back pain.


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The positions above are beneficial for women with back pain.



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The positions above are beneficial for men with back pain.





This would be the correct position to adopt if both partners suffer from back pain.



This website is a patient resource compiled from information from leading spinal surgeons practicing in South Africa and complements the My Spine – Lumbar and My Spine – Cervical information booklets that you can obtain directly from your spinal specialist. You will find information about spinal conditions and treatment on this website.

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My Spine – Lumbar and My Spine – Cervical information booklets are now directly available from your spinal specialist. All patients that are undergoing spinal surgery in South Africa should have access to these booklets. Please ask your specialist at your pre-operative visit about these booklets.