This Valentine’s Day do not allow back pain to limit your sexuality! Back pain sufferers can have fulfilling sex lives! While this topic may be slightly awkward for some, those suffering from back pain realize its importance. Communication with your partner, diagnosis from a licensed medical professional, and limiting pain with proper positioning or use of alternatives to intercourse are three critical areas to consider when back pain interferes with intimacy.
Clear and honest communication with your partner is at the top of the agenda. Back pain is invisible, subjective, and unique to the individual. Therefore, it is your responsibility to help your partner understand your limitations. This is accomplished with a thorough discussion of positions and movements that elicit pain in order to discover the most comfortable alternative. Also, it is your partner’s responsibility to listen and try to understand. Moreover, both partners need patience, tolerance, imagination, and gentle experimentation to maximize sexual pleasure.
Schedule a visit with your physician to accurately diagnose the origin of your back pain. Your doctor may recommend referral to a physical therapist for examination and testing in order to determine your physical limitations. Guidelines for specific positions and movements which support your back and minimize pain will be provided. Remember you may have to initiate this discussion with your physician or a physical therapist. Ideally, your partner should be present to express his or her questions and concerns.
Remember, sex does not necessarily mean intercourse! Alternative sexual techniques (massage, digital stimulation, or oral sex) may be initially required when extreme back pain prohibits penetration. Take time to pleasure each other. Giving stimulation can be just as erotic as receiving it!
To discover the sexual positions that provide the most comfort requires some imagination, creativity, and experimentation even after your medical professional has educated you about supporting your back to minimize pain. Some individuals with back pain achieve pain relief with bending forward (flexion) and others with bending backwards (extension). Sexual positions need to be adapted for each and every individual. Your symptoms may change over time so you may need to work with your health care provider from time to time as you go through the many stages of recovery. Here are some suggestions:
Valentine’s Day should be a romantic time for lovers. Sex is an important part of an intimate relationship. Do not allow back pain to condemn you to life without sex. Appropriate education, an open attitude, and effective communication can help you recover what you lost and may even result in something better than what you had before!
CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR: Janet Caputo, PT, OCS is clinical director of physical therapy at Mackarey & Mackarey Physical Therapy Consultants, LLC in downtown Scranton where she practices orthopedic and sports physical therapy. She is currently a Doctor of Physical Therapy student at the University of Scranton.