Hip Pain and Sex: Staying Intimate
Hip pain can put a damper on your sex life, but it doesn't have to. These tips can help keep intimacy alive.
By Madeline R. Vann, MPH
Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
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Hip pain makes it hard for you to walk and get through your day, and that means it may also be interfering with your sex life. But you can enjoy sex with less pain, both before and after hip replacement surgery.
Hip Pain and Sex: Discussing the Problem
Hip pain has long been recognized as an obstacle to sexual intimacy. In the 1970s, a survey found that one in four people with osteoarthritis of the hip believed hip pain was causing problems with their marriages, and two-thirds wanted advice about having sex despite hip pain.
Yet decades later this issue still remains difficult for patients to talk about, says Amy Humphrey, DPT, a physical therapist at Body Dynamics, Inc. in Arlington, Va., and spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association.
Women may have even problems undergoing a gynecological exam for a pap smear, so the difficulties are not limited to the bedroom, says Humphrey.
Hip Pain and Sex: Finding Solutions
“Hip pain can interfere with your sexual intimacy," says Humphrey, explaining that women with hip pain typically won’t be comfortable in the traditional missionary position (lying on their backs) because of the abduction movement it requires of the hip. She suggests the following positions for patients with hip pain:
- Try lying on your good side; a side position is actually better because that hip doesn’t have to be in an extreme range-of-motion position, says Humphrey.
- Avoid positions that force you to rotate your legs outward or cross your legs.
- Use pillows or a bed wedge to cushion your body, if that helps. “Set up with pillows or support in different places to make it a more comfortable experience,” she says.
Hip Pain and Sex: After Hip Replacement Surgery
Although very rare, it is possible for a new hip to be dislocated during sex and require another surgery. Your orthopedist will probably tell you to avoid sex for up to eight weeks after surgery. Make sure to ask about this before surgery and at your six-week post-operative appointment. But even after you are given the go-ahead, take it slow.
Sexual activity should be less painful than it was before the operation. Women and men who have had hip replacement can lie on their backs during sex with pillows for support as they gain strength and endurance.
“After hip replacement surgery, you do have hip precautions depending on what kind of surgery you had. You may be told not to cross your legs or internally rotate your legs,” advises Humphrey.
You will also have to be mindful of certain movements after hip replacement surgery, whether during sex or while participating in other activities.:
- Do not bend at the waist.
- Don’t lift heavy weights (such as your partner).
- Keep a pillow between your legs when on one side or the other.
- Avoid twisting at the waist.
Whether you are experiencing hip pain or recovering from hip replacement surgery, you can maintain an active sex life. Be creative, have patience with yourself, and remain open to new positions.
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