Neck pain may have put your sex life on hold. But with your doctor’s okay, you can ease back into intimacy without hurting your neck.
Neck pain, neck stiffness, and muscle spasms can certainly decrease your interest in sexual activity. Fear of doing further damage to your neck can also be a factor. The good news is that in most cases, you can continue to have an intimate relationship with your partner without aggravating your neck.
Any activity that causes you to hold your head too far back, bent to the side, or bent too far forward puts stress on the muscles, ligaments, and joints of your neck and can create neck pain. This is true for activities like driving and sleeping, and it is the same for sex. The basic rule in avoiding neck pain is to keep your neck in a natural position. When it comes to having sex, this means a few adjustments may be necessary.
Neck Pain and Sex: The Right Frame of Mind
Here are some tips that will help you resume sexual activity while coping with neck pain:
- Talk to your doctor. Part of having a healthy outlook is being honest and open about sex. Ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to have sex with the particular condition that’s causing your neck pain. If your doctor assures you that it is, you can remove the fear factor and that will get you in a better frame of mind for sexual activity.
- Ask about medications. Some medications can interfere with sexual arousal and functioning; others may help. If you use neck pain medication, you may want to take it about 30 minutes before sex to get the best pain relief. Ask your doctor to help you manage medication issues.
- Talk to your partner. Your partner may interpret your reluctance to have sex in the wrong way. Letting him or her know about your fears and anxiety can be a big relief for both of you. Good communication is essential for intimacy. Your partner may have also been worried about hurting you during sex and might be reassured by hearing what your doctor advised.
- Plan ahead. Sex is more enjoyable when you are relaxed and well-rested. Try to plan sex during a time of day when your neck pain is low and your energy is high. Don’t try to have sex right after eating or after drinking alcohol. Remember that alcohol and tobacco can interfere with sexual functioning.
Neck Pain and Sex: How to Enhance Intimacy
Warming up before sex can be part of the fun. Experimenting with new positions for sex can also enhance the experience. Put less emphasis on performance and more emphasis on communication and intimacy.
- Warm up. This is important. Make sure the room you have sex in is warm enough — you don’t want to be tangled up in blankets. A hot shower can loosen up your muscles and relax you. You might want to make a massage part of your foreplay as well. Take your time. All these preparations will get you in the mood for sex as well as improve blood supply to your neck muscles, which can help reduce neck pain.
- Find the perfect position. This may take some imagination and experimentation, but can also be exciting. Tell your partner what hurts and what feels good. Remember you want your neck resting in a natural position. Generally, the partner without neck pain should be doing most of the moving, with the one with the neck pain on his back or side.
- Use pillows and cushions. You may want to use pillows to increase neck and back support. If you are on your side or back, a specially-designed cervical cushion or neck pillow that supports your head in a natural position might make you more comfortable.
Once you have been assured by your doctor that sex is safe, and you have talked about your neck pain with your partner, many of the fears and anxieties that kept you away from sex may fade away. Researchers are discovering that, in many cases, the best treatment for neck and back pain is to get back to normal activities, and that a little discomfort doesn’t mean you are doing damage. Finally, remember that intimacy is about more than sexual performance. It’s also about taking the time to touch and to talk, giving pleasure, and accepting emotional support.
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