Why Does Doggy Style Sex Hurt?

Photographed by Lula Hyers.
There's a reason why so many species like doing it doggy style: It requires little to no flexibility, so it's fairly easy to get into. Some humans like doggy style because it allows your partner to penetrate deeply. That's not always a good thing, though, and if they go too deep, it can feel like they're rearranging your organs up in there. Or, at the very least, it can hurt.
There are a few reasons why doggy style in particular might not feel great, and once you figure out what's going on, it's easy to adjust and feel better. Ultimately, sex should feel good. If it doesn't, it's worth your while to try and figure out why. For example, if you're in doggy position and it feels like something is bonking into you way too hard, it's not all in your head — that could literally be what's going on.
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When you're on your hands and knees in doggy style position, your pelvis tilts in a way that can "truncate the length of the vagina" or "scrunch up" the vaginal canal, says Patti Britton, PhD, clinical sexologist. Your partner has almost all control of the speed and depth, so their penis or the object they're using could be "bottoming out" inside of you and smashing against your cervix, adds Megan Stubbs, clinical sexologist. As you can imagine, that can cause intense, painful pressure, she says.
If you usually have missionary sex, doing it doggy style can feel like a whole new world, Dr. Britton says. "You may not be used to the angle and depth of penetration, so it's a new area of sensation," she says. There are a few other variables, such as the size, length, and girth of your partner's penis or the object you're using for penetration, she says. If you're having sex with someone with a penis, there could be a slight bend that makes it extra uncomfortable, she says. Tell your partner if it's painful, and know that you might have to try a few different angles before you find one that feels good.
Again, the thing about doggy style is that your partner really has control of how deeply they penetrate you, and they can go very deep in this position, Dr. Britton says. Many people may want to pound or thrust intensely from behind, she says. "If you have sensitivity at the cervix, this can promote more discomfort or hurt having a pounding object toward the cervix," she says. If that's the case, Dr. Britton suggests trying to make the movements slow and deliberate, instead of pounding the penis or object in and out. Sometimes a speed adjustment is all it takes to feel better, but it depends on people's anatomy.
Another thing to consider? Holding yourself up in tabletop position requires some body strength, so your vagina "isn't exactly in a relaxed state," Dr. Britton says. "Whereas lying on your back and being penetrated from above can actually allow you to be in a relaxed state, even though you're tense and turned on, [when you're] doing doggy it's harder to relax," she says. For some people, adjusting the height of your elbows or adding cushions underneath your joints can help reduce some of the pressure or pain.
But it's also okay if doggy style is just not the ideal position for you and your partner. If you want to experience penetration from behind, there are other, less intense positions that you could try, such as spooning or laying completely flat on the bed, Dr. Britton says. You can also play with downward dog, and have your partner stand and penetrate you from behind, she suggests. That said, don't feel like you have to get acrobatic to make it work.
If you've tried all of that and it still hurts, or you're bleeding, mention it to your Ob/Gyn so they can make sure that you don't have an underlying condition that's causing the pain, like endometriosis or a vaginal infection. Not to mention, communicating with your partner when something doesn't feel good during sex (and when it does feel good) is always a good thing. And if they're still not getting it, blast "The Dog Days Are Over" by Florence + The Machine the next time you have sex, and see if they get the picture.
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