The road to recovery after hip replacement surgery can be long and challenging. It’s no surprise that patients become eager to get back to their old lives and routines and often struggle to adapt to their new—though temporary—physical limitations.
These limitations include those surrounding intimacy with partners. While recovery can take up to an entire year, that is a very long time to wait to resume relations. And as it turns out, love really can’t wait. And shouldn’t have to.
The Best Sex Positions After Hip Replacement Surgery
Getting back to the business of pleasure can be an emotionally healthy way to aid recovery. You can enjoy these benefits (and great sex) while you heal. But it’s important to understand first what you cannot do, so you can instead shift your focus to positions and activities that are safe and healthy.
The List of “Don’ts”
Of course, you’ll need to talk to your doctor for medical advice specific to your recovery, and you’ll need to get the green light from them for when you’re well enough to get back to love-making. As you and your partner resume intimacy it’s still crucial that you do not do anything beyond the scope of what your new joint can handle. Be mindful of the restrictions, because if you do not follow recommendations you may dislocate the new hip joint and find yourself needing another surgery. If you have any questions about how to move your healing body, ask your physical therapist, who will offer you techniques and exercises. And don’t be shy about asking them about sex—they get those kinds of questions far more often than you’d think.
Here is a list of physical movements you should not make with your body after a hip replacement, for anywhere from six to 12 months after surgery. By now you’ve probably had this list drilled into your head repeatedly by your doctor, but it’s important to think about the movements your healing body cannot make, and how they impact your favorite sexual positions.
- Turn the affected leg inward
- Bend forward at the waist
- Pivot or twist your body while standing
- Cross the leg past the horizontal middle of your body (bending or lifting it above your hips)
- Bend at the hip farther than 90 degrees (touching your toes)
So what does this mean for your sex life? Translated into sexual activities, locales, and positions, it means these are some of the scenarios to avoid:
- Do not make love on any uneven surface, such as a stairwell, kitchen table, recliner or rocking chair. Save these adventurous locations for when your body is fully healed!
- Avoid shower sex after surgery, as this carries a high risk of causing a slip and fall accident as your hip heals. (Do, however, feel free to use your suction handle bar for general shower stability—just no funny business!)
- Similarly, skip the bath or hot tub, which are far smaller spaces that require sitting, squatting, or bending at the knee.
- Avoid positions where you’re “on top,” such as missionary position for men or cowgirl position for women, because of the pressure these positions place on the recovering hip.
- Other positions that are problematic include:
- The Waterfall—Where the man has his shoulders on the floor and legs on the bed while the woman is on top, riding him on the bed’s edge.
- Pile Driver—Where the woman is laying on her neck and shoulders with her torso and legs straight up in the air, as her partner penetrates her from a squatting position above her.
- The Pretzel—Where the woman is on her side with the man making love to her on his bended knees.
- The Shoulder Holder—Similar to missionary position, but the woman's legs go over her partner's shoulders as he leans forward on bended knees.
It’s a pretty big list of don’ts, but the biggest: don’t get discouraged! This list of positions and activities to avoid doesn’t constrict your sexual activity, it just reshapes it.
The “Dos” of Doing It
Physical therapy teaches you new techniques for adapting to your body’s post-surgery changes. So why not make recovery a time of exploring new sexual possibilities, too? Good old-fashioned missionary position may be off the table (no, seriously, don’t do it on the table), but that doesn’t mean you can’t try something new. Here are six positions that may need to be adapted on an individual basis, but that should provide a great jumping off (and getting off) point for you and your partner.
- On your back: Both men and women who have had hip replacement surgery can easily engage in many positions as the partner who’s laying down. This is the most comfortable position, and comes with a great perk—your hands are free to explore and pleasure your partner. Try stimulating your partner’s nipples with feathered nipple clamps, which have a feathery end for stroking and teasing, and clamps that provide sustained pressure on the nipple during sex.
- Standing up against the wall: The support of a wall can be helpful. Men, lean your partner against the wall facing you; women, rest your back against the wall for support. If you would like to raise one leg, make sure you are standing on the healthy leg. The recovering leg can be bent slightly, so long as you support it with a sturdy stool or footrest. (Remember to not raise the recovering leg higher than a 90-degree angle.) For even greater stability, consider using door jam cuffs to help you keep your balance. In this position, either partner can also use a finger massager to stimulate the clitoris for greater satisfaction.
- Doggie style, standing: Doggie style is also fun and accessible for recovering patients. By doing it standing up, you avoid the need to bend the recovering leg at the knee, either as the “bottom” or “top” on a bed. The woman will need some comfortable support to lean on, such as the back of a couch. She can also bend over the edge of the bed while her partner stands. A great way to reduce the need for excessive hip thrusting is by adding a doggie style strap, which allows action to be dictated by the arms and can provide stability for both partners.
- Laying down, on your side: Both partners can lay on one side, facing each other, and stimulate each other by hand or with vibrators. This position is also good for kissing and cuddling. Ladies, try running your nails up and down his chest and back. Or, caress and tickle each other with a feather tickler. Or, have one partner lay facing the other’s back to try spooning; another snuggly (and sexy!) position that opens you up to all sorts of erotic reach-around caresses.
- Multiple positions in a swimming pool: Pools are great because they relieve pressure from the healing hip and offer a greater freedom of movement than in the bedroom. The positions you’ll be doing will be variants of standing positions, with the support of buoyancy making it easier on your recovering leg. You can use the edge of the pool for support, even taking your suction handle bar and attaching it to the wall of the pool instead. And invite a waterproof vibrator to the pool party for some additional stimulation!
- Sitting on a chair: An excellent way for a recovering hip replacement patient to have forceful sex is by sitting on a straight-backed chair. If you’re a man, your partner can sit on your lap for deep penetration, and she is the one in charge of the action. You can also try wearing a thigh strap-on on your healthy leg for her to straddle while she massages you with her hand.
As you try different positions, discuss it. Talk about what worked and what didn’t, what you liked and what you’d like to alter next time. Remember that all sex is a discussion, and requires communication and accommodation.
Be Prepared with These Practicalities
There’s more to considering sex after hip replacement than just the sex, however. These practical points should be considered and addressed prior to you getting undressed.
- After surgery your mobility may be aided with a walker, crutches, or a cane. While important for getting around, these tools sadly are not so sexy in the bedroom (or maybe they are—let’s get inventive!). But you’ll want to make sure you store them by the bedside where they are easily accessible during the night, or for post-lovemaking visits to the shower.
- Keep a towel on your nightstand so you don’t have to walk far to dry off sweat, as well as a glass of water to avoid a late-night trip to the kitchen.
- Remove throw rugs or discarded clothes from the bedside, as they can cause a slip and fall.
- Keep the pets out of the bedroom; having a dog or cat jump on you can be painful.
Thinking ahead of time about the practical needs surrounding your bedroom escapades can make sure you don’t kill the mood, while still doing what’s best for your recovery.
Healing Your Body with Your Heart
Most importantly, be patient with your partner and yourself. Intimacy is all about empathy, and if you or your partner are recovering from surgery, that need for empathy and understanding only increases. Remember, these limitations will pass. You can still enjoy intimacy… and pleasure. And until you are fully recovered, you can still have hot, passionate, steamy sex. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a position or toy that brings you and your partner amazing new ways to orgasm.