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The Best Sex Positions to Prevent Vaginal Pain

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.

If initial penetration hurts, try these 5 positions:

1. Your partner is seated in a chair, you're standing while facing away

TIPS for avoiding pain & 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 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.

2. Your partner is seated on the bed or floor, you're straddling their lap while leaning back on your arms

TIPS for avoiding pain & maximizing pleasure

For you:

  • Sit straddling your partner with your feet on the bed, 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.

3. Your partner is seated on the edge of the bed or couch, you're straddling their lap with your arms around their shoulders

TIPS for avoiding pain & maximizing pleasure

For You:

  • Straddle your partner and use your thighs and hips to help you control the depth, speed, and angle of penetration.
  • Hold onto your partner's shoulders for support and stability.
  • If vaginal penetration is too painful, your partner can easily provide manual or vibe clitoral stimulation.

For Your Partner:

  • Position your arms behind you for support.
  • Be aware that this position can allow for fairly deep penetration — consider using a device such as OhNut (see "sexy toolkit" info below) on your penis or strap-on to limit penetration depth.

4. Your partner is lying on their back, you're straddling their hips while facing their feet

TIPS for avoiding pain & 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.
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5. You're both lying on your sides, facing the same direction with optional leg support

TIPS for avoiding pain & maximizing pleasure

For you:

  • Your top leg can rest on top of your bottom leg, or on top of one or two pillows, or you can have your partner hold up your leg to open your hips.
  • This position leaves a hand free for manual stimulation, wherever it feels best.
  • 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.

If deeper penetration hurts, try these positions:

1. You're partner is kneeling behind you, you're kneeling while leaning forward onto an ottoman or chair

TIPS for avoiding pain & maximizing pleasure

For you:

  • Control the depth of penetration by adjusting your pelvis: Arch your back to tip your pelvis, or tuck your pelvis to experience varying penetration depths.
  • Release tension throughout your body by resting your upper body on a solid surface for support during penetration.
  • This position allows for targeted clitoral stimulation, either manually or from the shaft of a penis or strap-on.
  • Boost your pleasure and decrease pain with penetration by using a vibrating toy around the penis/strap-on for extra stimulation at the clitoris.

For your partner:

  • Kneeling helps to keep the thrusting motion smaller compared to standing, so the depth and the intensity of the thrusting can be smaller, limiting your partner’s potential pain.
  • Use a pillow under your knees for comfort.

2. You're both lying on your sides, facing the same direction with legs bent

or you're facing each other with your legs draped over your partner's hips

TIPS for avoiding pain & maximizing pleasure

For you:

  • During penetration, keep your legs together or place a pillow between your knees for support. This helps keep pelvic floor muscles relaxed, keeps your hips in a neutral position if you have knee pain, and allows your buttocks to be a natural buffer for penetration depth.
  • This position allows easy access for self or partner manual clitoral stimulation.
  • Try flattening your lower back and tucking your pelvis to limit the depth of penetration.
  • Prefer lying on your back? You can easily adjust your position to lie on your back with your legs draped over your partner’s hips. Your buttocks and the back of your thighs will continue to act as a buffer to limit the depth of penetration and minimize pain.

For your partner:

  • Keep your legs together or drape one over your partner if that is comfortable for both.
  • Try using pillows between your legs for extra comfort
  • This position allows you to easily caress many of your partner's erogenous zones including neck, breast, nipples, ears, and genitals.

3. Your partner is lying on their back, you're straddling their lap with your hands on the bed

TIPS for avoiding pain & maximizing pleasure

For you:

  • Face your partner and kneel over them while straddling their pelvis. Use your thighs and hips to move up and down while controlling the depth of penetration in a range that feels good to you.
  • Add some pillows between your lower legs and thighs to give you some support while thrusting.
  • Support your arms on the headboard, gently on your partner’s chest, or on the bed for better control during penetration.

For your partner:

  • This position allows you to easily caress many of your partner's erogenous zones including neck, breast, chest, nipples, ears, stomach and genitals.
  • Use pillows under your legs for more support to your lower back.

4. Your partner is seated on a chair, you're seated on their lap, leaning forward with hands on their thighs

TIPS for avoiding pain & maximizing pleasure

For you:

  • Support your upper body by leaning forward to put your palms on their legs to control the depth of penetration.
  • Find a sitting surface height that allows your feet to rest flat on the ground. This will allow you to use your legs during thrusting to better control depth and comfort during penetration.

For your partner:

  • Experiment with different sitting surfaces and heights to see which makes penetration the most comfortable for your partner.
  • Try leaning forward onto your partner's back or put a pillow between you and your partner for extra support.
  • This position allows you to easily caress many of your partner's erogenous zones including neck, breast, nipples, ears, and genitals.

A Few Things to Add to Your Toolkit

For added fun and better support, consider brining any (or all) of these items into the bedroom.

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.

Bonus: Get More of the Sex You Want

If you struggle to communicate what you do and don't want before, during, and after sex, check out this convo with Dr. Rose Schlaff, an intimacy coach and pelvic floor PT.

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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