Heat – including heated lube
My pelvic pain caused an ache in my thighs so great that it was hard to sleep, so I spent many nights trying to sleep on my back with a heating pad under my thighs. Staying warm is really important when you have muscle tension (my pelvic floor was incredibly tense). The warmer you are, the easier it is to relax your body and muscles, which is why heat is also important when it comes to the bedroom—and I don’t just mean metaphorical heat!
, is a company that specializes in heating up your sexy times. Their flagship product is a heated pouch that warms up your sex toys, and their most recent release is a heated lube dispenser. I didn’t think something as simple as a warm dilator or lube would have such a dramatic effect on releasing tension, but it was just as effective and relaxing as sinking into a hot bath. Heat also creates blood flow so it can help increase arousal if that’s what you’re looking for.
Dilators are great for any type of pelvic pain that makes penetration painful. If your goal is to be able to have pain-free (or less painful) penetrative sex, you’ll want to invest in a good set. Thankfully, that’s easier than it has ever been. Go high end with glass dilators (like this set from ) or budget-friendly with a new silicone set from .
Dilators are used to help the vagina (including neo-vaginas!) become familiar with—or reacquainted with—penetration. Start with the size that is the most comfortable for you and move up in size when you feel ready—if you want to. There’s a common narrative out there that the bigger a penis (or toy), the better. And for some people that might be true, but if you’re not interested in sizing up—now or ever—that’s totally OK.
3. Sex toys for pelvic pain
Vibrators can be great for dealing with pelvic pain for a number of reasons, no matter what genitals you have. You can use wand-style vibes to massage some of the areas that are affected by pelvic pain (like the aforementioned thighs or even the perineum) or you can incorporate them into masturbation or partner sex.
Hot Octopuss’s new release, the DiGiT finger vibe, is one of my favorite new toy releases for a couple of reasons. It’s not uncommon for the genitals to become more sensitive if you have pelvic pain and that can either be good or bad (i.e. my labia became more sensitive in a pleasurable way, but my clitoris became more sensitive in a painful way). It’s hard to find toys that have lower power levels, but the DiGiT starts at a lower, gentler rumble, and the shape is such that the vibrations are spread over a broader area rather than super pinpoint. My only concern with DiGiT is that the finger holder may be too small for some folks.
Meanwhile, couples’ toy PULSE III DUO is a great option for masturbating if you have a penis—but it can also be utilized for partner play when penetrative sex is off the menu. One of you can use the sleeve while the other benefits from the added vibrations on the underside of the toy!
4. Lube and barriers
Lube is super important if you experience pelvic pain. Thicker water-based lube is probably the most all-purpose. It’s condom-safe, toy-safe, and can be used vaginally or anally (and the thicker the better for anal!). Silicone lube is frequently recommended for folks with particularly sensitive bodies. It’s also the most slippery and won’t dry out like water-based lube. Unfortunately, silicone lube is incompatible with silicone toys, so if you find that silicone lube is your fave, just put a (non-lubricated) condom over your silicone toy or dilator and safely lube it up. Silicone lube is totally safe for use with glass and stainless steel toys, too.
Using latex or nitrile gloves as a barrier can also be useful if you have pelvic pain—even if you’re doing it with fluid-bonded partners. While hand washing is probably enough, fresh, clean gloves can help keep your mind at ease and add an extra layer of protection (you won’t have to worry about fingernails, either!). Using lube on gloves can make digital penetration more comfortable because of the slickness.
Everyone is different and one piece of advice isn’t universal. Patience is key when you’re dealing with pelvic pain—patience with yourself, with your body, and with your partners. (Likewise, it’s important to make sure that your partner(s) also understand that their patience is required, too.) Things may not always go according to plan and it’s important to remember that sex and intimacy don’t have to be spontaneous to be good or fun. Sometimes the best sex requires preparation and planning. So schedule some time with yourself or your sweetie, get the lube warming, and listen to what your body is telling you.
Nicole Guappone is a freelance writer living in Chicago, and she’s been published by Rolling Stone, Glamour, Allure, The Establishment, and more. Much of her writing and research focuses on sexual health, sexuality, and kink from a pelvic pain perspective. She also writes sex toy reviews for Chicago-based feminist magazine Rebellious. Read more of her work here and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.