Sex is supposed to be fun, but when you suffer from endometriosis, intercourse can be painful and your symptoms can make it hard to get in the mood. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t want it sometimes, which is why it’s good to remember that there are some sex positions for endometriosis that work better than others.
Dr. Pari Ghodsi, an OB/GYN based in Los Angeles and an American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology fellow, told HelloGiggles that sex can’t make your endometriosis worse, but your endometriosis can make sex super unpleasant.
“It is dependent on the woman and what feels best for her. Some women with endometriosis experience more pain with positions that have deeper penetration,” she said.
As always, if you’re in pain or don’t feel like having sex, you should never force yourself to go through with it. And no one should pressure you into having sex that feels uncomfortable. That’s never okay.
But a lot of women with endometriosis have adapted to the condition and have ways to work around it. For most endo patients, pelvic pain is the biggest concern, so the positions that are going to work best are ones where deep thrusts or penetration are kept to a minimum (and that means penetration of all kinds, including by fingers and toys).
Physical therapist Rachel Gelman, branch director at the Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center, explained to HelloGiggles that if pain during sex persists, seeing an expert is the way to go. “Patients may also benefit from working with a sex therapist and/or a pelvic floor physical therapist to address sexual dysfunction/pain with sex,” she said.
If you’d like to start by trying some different sex positions for endometriosis, though, take a look at our experts’ suggestions below.
1Get on top.
Your partner doesn’t want to hurt you, of course. But if you don’t give them any direction or show them what feels good, they’re going to be stuck guessing, which is never fun when it comes to sex. This goes for everyone, not just women with endometriosis. But women with endometriosis want to be particularly careful when it comes to demonstrating what feels good and what doesn’t. Getting on top should help that.
Gelman said, “Everyone is different, but I find that if the person with endometriosis is on top that works well because they can control the depth and speed.” That way, if you like to be penetrated, you can control most of the action. Gelman also recommended using a water-based lubricant to make everything more comfortable.
2Try a sideways sex position.
Dr. Kendra Segura, an OB/GYN practicing in California, told HelloGiggles that because pain is usually caused by deeper penetration, positions like “doggy style” can be especially unbearable for women with endometriosis. Even the missionary position, which some people consider to be the most vanilla of all positions, can be painful. That’s why you might just want to adjust the angles.
You can get close face-to-face and see if that helps, or try spooning — if you’re doing the backwards thrusting, you can control the depth of penetration. If you prefer face-to-face, you can take it up a notch by throwing a leg over your partner’s shoulder — you get a good view and can communicate how deeply you want to be penetrated. Bonus: You have great access to your clitoris, which is key to achieving orgasm for most women.
3Try the reverse cowgirl.
Yes, the name of this sex position is terrible, but this classic position will give you all the perks of doggy style, with you in control. Since deeper penetration can be a problem for women with endometriosis, backwards positions aren’t recommend — but you might miss it. Have your partner lie down on his back and steady yourself on top of him, backwards, and then you can control all the movement.
4Get down with the “backup boogie.”
Cosmopolitan’s “backup boogie” is another great option to prevent painful sex, since reverse cowgirl can get a little awkward if you’re trying to coordinate bouncing and thrusting. In this position, you can lean forward and put your hands on the bed to steady you. You still have all the control, and your partner gets all the views.
5Do a “cowgirl lunge.”
Get on top of your partner and face them — again, this gives you most of the control. But this time, keep one leg down and bend another leg up, so that you can switch between deeper penetration and rubbing your clitoris. This way, if it gets uncomfortable in one position, you can quickly readjust without having to take a break.
6Modified doggy style.
Take a cue from your yoga classes and remember that you can always modify a sex position to make it more comfortable for you. If the penetration of classic doggy is too much, try easing into it by lying on your stomach and asking your partner to lay on top and enter you with a toy, a hand, or their penis. You get full-body contact, so it’s a super intimate way to get off.
7Go down on each other.
If being penetrated is what’s hurting your pelvis, just don’t do it. Sex doesn’t always have to mean penetration — even among heterosexual couples. Instead, have your partner brush up on their cunnilingus skills. Orgasms are known to relieve pain because of the hormone release, so lying back, relaxing, and letting someone else do a little work might be just what the doctor ordered.
8Masturbate with each other.
Masturbating with your partner can be another way to avoid painful penetration, and it will surely bring your relationship to the next level. As we said before, sex can mean a lot of different kinds of play, so try getting busy with toys, your hands, and whatever you can think of to get each other off.
9Turn up the heat with shower sex.
Try a standing position in the shower with your leg perched somewhere for access, or spin around for some backwards action, where you can still control the depth of penetration. Just remember that water can interfere with your natural lubrication, which can cause a condom to tear, so use an appropriate lubricant on your condom to avoid sexually transmitted infections.
Endometriosis is hard enough to deal with without having it get in the way of your sex life. But with a little communication and creativity, you and your partner can definitely make it work.