Physical activity comes with some inherent risks. That’s why we warm-up before we exercise. It’s why we stretch before a run. Why we warm up before lifting weights. Why we make sure to cool down after too. We need to prevent injury. And empirical data supports that, what is in my opinion, the best kind of physical activity — sex — causes just as many injuries as physical workouts. In fact, 6 out of every 10 people has suffered a sex-related injury.
That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Sex IS a workout. It’s solid cardio with a rapidly increased heart rate. Like yoga, you contort your body into weird shapes and angles. You’re basically wrestling with another human being. And it’s actually the most vanilla of all sexual positions — missionary — that causes the most injuries. A plurality of those injuries, for men, was related to the penis, while a majority of women report injuries to the vagina during missionary sex. This likely has little to do, statistically, with the activity, angle or anything else inherent with the position, but rather it’s likely because of the popularity of the position and how often people are in it during sex.
Of course the penis isn’t the only body part at risk to injury during missionary sex. The next most common injury that men reported was to their backs. This is a repetitive movement and stress-related injury that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise if you put some though into it. Notably, men experienced more joint injuries when performing sex doggy-style — with reports of injuries to elbows, shoulders, and knees.
Some of these injuries — up to 13% — sent men to the emergency room for treatment and required immediate medical care. And a majority of men reported that the injuries ended up sending them to seek medical treatment some time later, including seeing a specialist.
If something like this happens to you, it’s important that you be completely honest and truthful with your doctor about what happened. You probably don’t need to give them all of the gory details of how you ended up having that injury, but you do have to provide them at least the base, foundational idea of the actions that led to your sex-related injury. If they need further details, they’ll ask. But be forward with the info. Even the best diagnostician can’t figure out what is wrong with you just by looking at you. And lying about the source of the injury will only cloud things and keep them from — potentially — being able to actually properly help you.
Doctors know how common injuries like this are. Furthermore, they’ve likely already seen and heard things far worse than you could possibly share with them. And if you’re really worried about sharing, comfortably, details of your sexual exploits, know that there are laws in this country that will protect your privacy.
Doctors know all of the code words and phrases for sex-related injuries and can usually tell when you’re not being totally truthful about some injury that you’ve suffered. They know what a fall in the shower looks like. They’ve seen plenty of those. They know it doesn’t look like that hip strain from that recent tussle in the sheets with your partner.
So, what should you do about any of this?
What can you do to prevent embarrassing injuries that could send you to the doctor having to explain your recent sexual exploits to a nurse or specialist? Well, I doubt you want to break out the full calisthenics before getting it on. That could totally ruin the mood that you’re putting some effort into trying to set. Doing back bends and touching your toes are not necessarily the sexiest moves to be pulling off right before you’re about to get into bed with your partner. You should be focused on pre-gaming for the big event, warming things up sexually to make sure you’re ready to go, and getting her into the right frame of mind.
Instead, your best bet is to work some stretching or some yoga into your normal exercise routine. Make sure that you’re staying limber and building core strength to support yourself. And, as with any injury that could occur at the gym or with any physical activity, you should limit yourself to what you’re capable of. When you’re at the gym, you know when to push yourself to see some gains, but you know not to go too far. You’ll hurt something or, at least, suffer some set back that will sideline you for enough time as to put a dent in any gains that you’ve seen. This goes for sex too. With sex, we’re not as regimented about the physical activity that is inherent in the act of sex. We will push and stretch beyond our physical limitations because we’ve been told that it feels good. You’re adventurous and exploring new things, but failing to take into account that you’re still bound by your own body and what it can and cannot do. If you make sure to keep in mind that this is a physical activity with all of the same risks associated with sports and exercise that bear a striking resemblance to it when you really think about it, you’ll save yourself a lot of pain and aggravation later. Hey — you’ll even save yourself, potentially, some serious cash considering the cost of medical bills and the potential hit to your insurance bill if it ends up being a chronic condition.
If you keep in mind that sex is a physical activity with all of the same inherent risks as any other exercise that includes cardio, stretching, contorting your body into different shapes and basically what can look like ancient Greco-Roman wrestling, then you’ll be a lot safer. And you’ll already be several steps ahead of that guy in the ER right now who “slipped in his shower and fell on a shampoo bottle.” Every doctor has heard that one. So, don’t be that guy.