Is Back Pain Ruining Your Sex Life?

Dear Health-conscious Friend,

Back Pain Doesn’t Have to End Your Love Life

“Doctor, what can I do? My back hurts so bad after sex, we hardly make love at all any more.”

Almost every family doctor has faced this question… multiple times. Anxious patients – or their partners – are often desperate for help. And all we doctors have had to go on is guesswork.


The standard suggestion is to “spoon.” That is, both partners lie on their sides, facing the same direction. But new research suggests this isn’t necessarily the best advice for everyone.

In fact, the best advice may differ quite a bit, depending on the type of back pain you suffer.


For the first time, scientists have taken a serious look at sex and back motion. And they’ve discovered people with different types of back pain will probably suffer less by adapting their position to their particular problem.


The team from Canada’s Waterloo University used sophisticated motion-capture equipment to map volunteers’ movement during lovemaking. And to ensure they recorded natural motion, all 10 couples were free from back pain.


By reviewing the results, the researchers were able to record the natural movement of the spine in several different positions. From this, they could predict which positions would be most comfortable for different types of back pain.


About 1 in 5 adults will suffer disabling back pain at least once in their lives. And 75% of the women – along with 84% of the men – who suffer back pain say it also affects their love life. So this is a serious problem.


The Canadian scientists suggest the person controlling the movement use their hips and knees more than their spine. The less active partner should be in a neutral, supine position.


The best way to do this? The classic missionary position. If the woman is on the bottom, they say placing a cushion under the curve of her back may add to both partners’ comfort.


If the man has flexion problems – that is, trouble bending down and touching his toes – kneeling behind his partner may be the most comfortable position. He should remember to move as much as possible with his hips, and not his back.


Building core strength may also help reduce your back pain. Work with your doctor and a certified physical trainer to strengthen your back and abdominal muscles.


A weak core is at the heart of much back pain. Once you’ve strengthened these key muscles, you may find you can resume the love life you enjoyed when you were younger.


Finally, don’t overlook nutritional supplements. Natural pain relievers – containing ingredients such as boswellia and white willow bark – can promote lower levels of pain.

And that could be just enough to get your love life back on track.

Yours in continued health,

Dr Kenneth Woliner, M.D.




“Back pain killing your sex life? Groundbreaking study reveals best positions to save your spine,” University of Waterloo. Sep 10, 2014.


“Sex and back pain: University of Waterloo study suggests best positions to spare your spine,” Medlline Plus. Sep 10, 2014.


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