6 Sex Tips for Back Pain Sufferers

Back pain can intrude into your sex life and even ruin your relationship, if you are not careful. The key is to develop new skills and attitudes that better fit your lifestyle now that you live with spine problems.

Here are six things you can do to keep the love in your life - and the back pain at bay. The tips and insights here are provided by physical therapist Lauren Andrew Hebert, physical therapist and author of Sex and Back Pain, and Wendy Maltz, who is a social worker and sex therapist.

1
Try to Talk to Your Doctor About Your Sexual Functioning - or Turn Elsewhere

Doctor and patient conversation
Doctor and patient conversation. Dan Dalton/Caiaimage/Getty Images

Patients tend to be uncomfortable about discussing sex and sexual positions with their doctors. According Hebert, a big part of the responsibility for the lack of communication between doctor and patient lies with the medical professionals.

"Health care providers should be actively seeking the subject," he says. Sex is on par with returning to work and daily activities in diagnosing and treating back pain. If your health care provider will not address your questions about sex, Hebert suggests finding another seeking another opinion.

2
Address Your Attitude

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Address your attitude about your condition and the effect it will have on your relationship.

Hebert says that quite often relationships break up when one partner experiences back pain. This is because, he says, reaction to pain is a learned behavior. "As you decide to be, that's how you are."

Often, a person who lives with pain will exaggerate things by avoiding sex. "This is what ruins the relationship," he says.

3
Choose Sensuality over Sexuality

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Accept that you may not be able to be as vigorous as you were prior to the onset of your pain. Turn to your creativity and sense of discovery to help you adapt your sex life to the level your back can handle.

Maltz says that changing your goals may be a way to keep your sex life rewarding despite your pain. Try for emotional connection and fun over "hard driving orgasms," she says.

4
Understand Your Back Condition

Xray image of arthritic spine.
Arthritis is one cause of cervical radiculopathy. CNRI/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Understanding your back problem well, including which positions bring on symptoms and which are okay may help you enjoy sex more.

Back injuries and conditions can be categorized by the types of movements that make symptoms worse.  You can use this information when selecting your positions.

Related: Common Spine Conditions

5
Plan Your Positions

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Plan your positions and include your partner in this process.

Sometimes, you may be able to modify your favorite positions with a pillow or towel. Other times, you may need to communicate and work this issue out with your partner.

Herbert suggests talking about it up front, and then expect, at times, that you will need to modify the plan. Planning your positions is a valuable strategy, he comments, because relationships that accommodate back pain with a "we can adapt" attitude tend to fare better than those in which the problem belongs only to the partner with the pain.

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6
Help Your Sex Life While You Help Your Back- Strengthen Pelvic Floor Muscles

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The last tip is to get your pelvic floor muscles in shape. Strong flexible pelvic floor muscles can greatly enhance sexual function and do wonders for your back. The reason for this is that they are a part of the core support system that balances out muscle usage and stabilizes body posture. Hebert says that along with their role in sex, the pelvic floor muscles are as important as the abdominals and low back muscles in back health.

Related: Exercise Your Pelvic Floor Muscles

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