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Pelvic + Sexual Health

The Best Sex Positions to Avoid Pain with Insertion

Nov 01, 2022Dr. Ashley Rawlins, PT, DPT3 Minutes
a couple sitting on a bed, holding hands

We hate to start a sexy post with a disclaimer, but this is too important to skip: “pushing though” vulvar or vaginal pain in order to have sex is never a good idea. When you do, you fuel a chronic pain feedback loop that causes your brain to generate pain signals even when no injury is present (read more about this tricky feedback loop here). If sex is painful, it’s best to work with a pelvic floor PT — ideally, in conjunction with a sex therapist — who can help you treat chronic pain and reintroduce penetration at the right time. 

With that out of the way, we’re excited to share some sex positions that support slow, gentle insertion and (if necessary) shallow thrusting.

The positions below are helpful because they:

  • Take some pressure off of the vulvar and vaginal tissues during initial insertion 
  • Provide the option for anal stimulation or penetration, if that’s on your menu
  • Make it easier to reach the clitoris and breasts, which encourages “outercourse” (aka all the sexy things you can do to each other aside from penetration)

Not ready for penetrative sex? There are many other ways to feel good solo or with a partner. Check out an intro to outercourse here. And if sex of any kind is intimidating, we recommend finding pleasure through sensate touch.

Your Partner is Seated + You're Standing, Facing Away

TIPS for avoiding pain and maximizing pleasure

For you:

  • Your legs can straddle one or both of your partner's legs, or you can stand between their legs — choose the position that makes you feel most stable and comfortable.
  • To give yourself even more control over the depth of penetration, lean forward a bit and rest your arms on a table or the back of a chair.
  • If vaginal penetration isn't possible for you, this position provides access to anal stimulation or penetration instead.

For your partner:

  • Sit in a chair with good back support or in bed with your back against the wall or a sturdy headboard.
  • This position helps you control the depth of the penetration you are providing and allows you to use your hands to stimulate your partner's clitoris or breasts.

You're Seated on Your Partner's Lap, Facing Them + Arm Support

TIPS for avoiding pain AND maximizing pleasure

For you:

  • Sit facing your partner with one or both legs over your partner’s, then extend one or both arms behind you for support.
  • You can opt for anal penetration in this position by shifting your hips up.
  • If insertion is too painful, this is a great position for clitorial stimulation, external vibration, or fingering, if that's comfortable/enjoyable.

For both partners:

  • This is a fantastic position for kissing and caressing.
  • Use your free hand(s) to stimulate the clitoris, scrotum, or breasts.

Your Partner is Seated or Lying Down + You're STRADDLING THEM, FACING FORWARD

TIPS for avoiding pain AND maximizing pleasure

For you:

  • Straddle your partner’s hips with your knees, then use your thighs and hips to help you control the depth, speed, and angle of penetration.
  • Lean forward to easily kiss or caress your partner, or place your hands on the bed and use your upper body to better control depth of penetration
  • If penetration is too painful, your partner can easily provide manual or vibe clitoral stimulation, or shift your hips forward for anal penetration instead.

For your partner:

  • When lying down, use pillows to support your back and legs in a way that's best for you and your partner.
  • Be aware that this position can allow for fairly deep penetration, so consider moving to a seated variation, or use a device such as OhNut (see "sexy toolkit" info below) on your penis or strap-on to limit penetration depth.
  • For anal penetration, put several pillows under your hips for comfort.
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Your Partner is Lying Down + You're STRADDLING THEM, Facing AWAY

TIPS for avoiding pain AND maximizing pleasure

For you:

  • Straddle your partner’s hips with your knees facing their feet. 
  • You have a lot of freedom of movement in this position to help control penetration and depth. You can also support your upper body on your partner’s thighs (just above their knees) to help with control during penetration.
  • Use a pillow between your thighs and lower legs to help control the depth of penetration.
  • This position allows for targeted clitoral stimulation, either manually or from the shaft of the penis or strap-on.
  • This is a great position if you enjoy anal stimulation or penetration.

For your partner:

  • Use pillows to support your back and neck as needed.
  • While you may not have a lot of freedom of movement, be aware that this position can allow for fairly deep penetration of your partner, so consider using a wearable such as OhNut on your penis or strap-on to limit penetration depth.

You're Both Lying on Your Sides + Optional Leg Support

TIPS for avoiding pain AND maximizing pleasure

For you: 

  • Lie on your side and allow your top leg to rest on top of your bottom leg or rest it on top of one or two pillows. You can also have your partner hold up your leg to open your hips.
  • This position allows good access for manual stimulation to the genitals including the vulva, clitoris, anus, scrotum, and penis. 
  • This position allows for easy access to the front and back of the vagina, as well as for stimulation to the G spot during vaginal or anal penetration.
  • Note: You may feel extra pressure on the sides of your vagina in this position. If that's a tender area for you, this may be a position to avoid.

For your partner:

  • Allow your top leg to rest on top of your bottom leg, drape it around your partner (if that's comfortable for both of you), or rotate it open with your knee bent and foot on the floor.

Sexy Tool Kit Suggestions

For added fun and better support, consider adding any (or all) of the items below.

Ohnut - This is an extremely comfortable wearable that is worn on the base of the penis — or placed on a strap-on or dildo — to help limit the depth of penetration. Stack as many as you need to allow for comfortable penetration.

External vibrators - Adding an external vibe to sex can be a great way to enhance arousal and bring more blood flow to your tissues.

Lube - Try adding lube to yourself and your partner before penetration to reduce any dryness. Add more, as needed, to keep penetration slippery.

Vaginal dilators - Dilators allow for a slow, solo stretch of the tissues prior to penetrative intercourse.

Ashley Rawlins Headshot
Dr. Ashley Rawlins, PT, DPT

Dr. Rawlins is a physical therapist at Origin who specializes in the treatment of pelvic floor muscle dysfunctions including pelvic pain, sexual dysfunction, pregnancy related pain, postpartum recovery, and bowel and bladder dysfunction. In addition to being a practicing clinician, she is a passionate educator and author.

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