Women with back pain: How to improve your sex life

Newly published findings give women with back pain hope for a better sex life again.

A Canadian study was conducted to determine how the spine moves during sexual intercourse. Researchers from the University of Waterloo were able to find out which sexual positions are best for women who suffer from different types of lower back pain. The new recommendations follow similar guidelines for men published last month.

Findings published in the “European Spine Journal” dispel the notion that women with lower back pain find the “spooning position”, where a couple lies sideways curled in the same direction, most comfortable. Traditionally, doctors have recommended this sexual position to all people with back pain, as it was believed that it reduces nerve tension and load on the tissues.

However, when studying movement and muscle activity of the spine, Natalie Sidorkewicz and her colleagues found that the “spooning position” is one of the worst positions for certain types of back pain.

Using infrared and electromagnetic motion capture systems, as used by filmmakers for full computer graphics character animation, the researchers tracked the movements of the spines of ten couples in five different sexual positions each. Based on the results, the researchers created an atlas or illustrated set of guidelines that recommend different sex positions based on what movements cause pain in patients.

The atlas suggests that women with extensional intolerance, where back pain is worsened by the curvature of the back or a prone position, should replace the spoon position with the missionary position. Also, supporting the lower back with a no pillow can bring the spine into a neutral position.

Women with a flexion intolerance, where back pain is intensified by touching the toes or sitting for long periods, are recommended to use the spoon position or the “Doggy Style”, where the woman supports her upper body with her hands instead of elbows.

Professor Stuart McGill of the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Waterloo said in a statement that family doctors could use these findings to advise back pain patients on optimal sexual positions. Many couples are celibate because of the pain, as the pain triggered by a night of love can often last for months.

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