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Less Strenuous Positions for Sexual Intercourse

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This information was reviewed and approved by Deborah A. Fending, RN (4/1/2019).

Using less strenuous positions for sexual intercourse can help the shortness of breath you may feel with sexual activity. 

General Ideas about Sexual Positions

General Ideas about Sexual PositionsThink of these general ideas when planning less strenuous positions:

  • Plan ahead and talk with your partner about exploring new sexual positions. Talk and try to understand how your partner feels about trying new positions.

  • Use pillows to provide comfortable support. You will breathe better with your head and chest elevated.

  • Avoid positions that require you to support your body on your arms or add pressure on your stomach.

  • The partner without lung disease should do most of the moving. Move in a slow rhythmic manner.

  • If your partner lies on top, make sure they are not lying directly on your chest or stomach.

Specific Suggestions for Less Strenuous Positions

  • The side position with partners lying down facing each other allows for a free breathing for both partners. Oxygen can easily be worn with this position.

  • Both partners lie on their side. The man enters from behind. The woman can have a pillow between her knees if desired.

  • The man lies on his back. He may use pillows for support. The woman can support her own body weight on her elbows and/or knees. The woman needs to provide most of the energy. If your partner lies on top, make sure they are not lying directly on your chest or stomach.

  • The woman lies on her back supported by pillows. This is also a position that easily allows for use of oxygen.

  • One partner sits on a chair while the other straddles them. Make sure the chair is sturdy and without wheels.

  • Sit on the edge of the bed and have your partner stand facing you. It may help to elevate the bed on frames typically sold to create storage space underneath.

These suggestions are a starting point, so make whatever changes you need in the positions to help you breathe better. You also can change the positions according to strength, body weight and degree of comfort. Explore sexual activity that may satisfy you and your partner, even if intercourse is not involved. Touching and caressing may be the best sexual activity at times, and oral sex or masturbation may also substitute for sexual intercourse for some people.