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Researchers Study Ways to Improve Sex for Women with Low Back Pain

Update Date: Oct 25, 2014 12:12 PM EDT

Low back pain can negatively affect men and women's sex lives. In a new study, a team of researchers from the University of Waterloo examined spinal movements during sex in order to find the positions that are the most ideal for women suffering from different kinds of low back pain.

In this study, the researchers recruited 10 couples and used a combination of infrared and electromagnetic motion capture systems to analyze how the spine moved during sexual intercourse. The team focused on five popular sex positions.

"Traditionally, spooning was recommended by physicians to all individuals with back pain because it was thought to reduce nerve tension and load on the tissues," said lead investigator of the study, Natalie Sidorkewicz, a Ph.D. candidate at Waterloo. "But when we examined spine motion and muscle activity, we found that spooning can actually be one of the worst positions for certain types of back pain."

The team found that women, who were extension-intolerant, which meant that their back pain was triggered by arching or lying on their stomachs, should engage in the missionary as opposed to spooning position. For women who were flexion-intolerant, which meant that their pain was worsened if they sat for too long or if they tried to touch their toes, they could benefit from spooning or doggy-style sex. In these positions, however, women should support themselves with their hands and not their elbows.

"What we know now is that sex positions that are suitable for one type of back pain are not appropriate for another kind of pain," said Sidorkewicz according to the university's news release. "These guidelines have the potential to improve quality of life-and love life-for many couples.

The study was published in the European Spine Journal. The team published a similar study last month that examined sexual positions for men with low back pain.

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