You Need Help: Getting It On After Hip Replacement Surgery

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Q: You guys are the only people I can think of who might be able to help with this! My wife is going to have hip-replacement surgery soon, and obviously we aren’t going to be having sex for a while. Are there any lesbian orthopedists or other doctors out there who can provide lesbian-specific advice for how to ease back into sexual activity? Anything besides, “If it’s uncomfortable, don’t do it”? Thanks!

A: Hello there! I am not a doctor or an orthopedist, but I do know a thing or two about getting it on safely. I welcome any lesbian orthopedists and doctors to jump in with advice in the comments. Is there a queer orthopedist in the house?

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Oh, good. Great. There you are, Dr. Torres.

Firstly, I am so happy for your wife that she will have a new hip soon! Once she is all healed up, there is a good chance this hip replacement surgery will actually improve your sex life! A successful hip replacement surgery can make everything feel almost brand new and pain free, according to people I know (OK, it’s my dad) who have gone through it. So sex after everything is healed up could look pretty much exactly like it looks now, or better. That is something super exciting to look forward to for both of you!

I think it goes without saying that you shouldn’t interfere with the recovery process. If the doctor or physical therapist says not to mess with something, don’t. Honestly, your wife may not really feel up to it anyway, what with all the swelling and physical therapy and sleep-inducing drugs and whatnot. After the 6-8 week period of recovery ends and your wife’s doctor gives you the go to resume normal activities, including exercise, you should be able to resume sex as usual.

During the recovery period and after, it’s important not to dislocate the new hip. So of course, yes, if it isn’t comfortable, don’t do it. But let’s dig a little deeper into some ways to make sex fun for you both.

Let’s start with what sex is. Sex can be a lot of things, right? I can involve mouths and fingers and genitals and sex toys and fantasy and sexy talk and lots of other thing. Sex can result in orgasm for all parties involved or for one person or for no one. There are lots of ways you can have sex or do sexy things (especially during the recovery period) without putting stress on the your partner’s hips.

Sexy Things with Very Little to No Hip Rotation Involved

First comes kissing, then comes facesitting. via Shutterstock

First comes kissing, then comes facesitting. via Shutterstock

  • Be the Queen:

Queening or face-sitting is the sex position where you position your genitals over your partner’s face so they can provide oral-genital stimulation. Their hips are completely safe!

  • Touch Yourself:

Mutual masturbation or watching each other masturbate can be really, really sexy. Especially during recovery, it’s a low risk way for you and/or your partner to get off. Dirty talk or watching porn together can make it especially hot.

  • Dirty Fun Stuff:

Stripping, hair-pulling, light tickling, nipple play, upper body massage, basically anything in the category of foreplay or teasing.

When you do start resuming your normal sex life after recovery, take it slow and follow these tips.

Tips for Sex After Hip Surgery

  • Warm Up:

Stretching before sex will help relax your partner’s muscles. If you tease them a bit while they are stretching (kissing their neck, touching them lightly, etc), it could even become part of your foreplay.

  • Use pillows and supports:

You can spring for a fancy sex support cushions like the Liberator or just use regular pillows and rolled bath towels to provide extra support to your partner’s hip during sex.

  • Watch Her Knees:

Right after hip surgery, you don’t want to dislocate the hip, so try not to move your partner’s knee past hip level or cross their legs at the knee. Open knee positions, where the knee opens the the side of the body, are usually fine.

  • Legs on the Inside:

Find positions where your partner’s legs can be on the inside and she doesn’t have to rotate the hip too much.

  • Side by Side:

Laying in a spoon or facing-each-other position with your partner’s hip on the bottom (possibly supported by pillows) can work if missionary doesn’t.

  • Good ol’ Missionary:

Missionary-style positions, either on the top or bottom, are not too hard on the hips. So you should be able to go down on your partner or have any kind of penetrative sex without difficulty.

I mean, I know that you know this, but just take it slow at first and figure out what works and what doesn’t. Honestly, post-hip replacement sex is probably not going to be very different. For a lot of people, sex is more comfortable after hip replacement than it was before!

I hope your partner has a speedy recovery and you are back to sexing each other up real soon!


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KaeLyn is a 35-year-old (femme)nist activist, word nerd, and queer mama. You can typically find her binge-watching TV, over-caffeinating herself, standing somewhere with a mic or a sign in her hand, eating carbs, or just generally doing too many things at once. She lives in Rochester, NY with her spouse, a baby T. rex, a xenophobic cat, and a rascally rabbit. You can buy her debut book, Girls Resist! A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution if you want to, if you feel like it, if that's a thing that interests you or whatever.

KaeLyn has written 205 articles for us.

22 Comments

  1. Hello! Trainee bone doctor from down under reporting for service.

    All good advice so far! The risky moves for dislocating does depend a bit on whether they go in through the front or back so it’d be worthwhile finding this out.

    In general: better not to get too frisky for the first 2 weeks. Spreading legs is good. Lying on your back is advised, generally we tell patients to sleep on their back for at least 6 weeks. Avoid bending the hip past 90deg. The 90deg thing includes sitting and leaning forward so no chair sex sorry.

    In fact, one of the reasons we offer hip replacements to women is to improve their sex life! Good luck 😉

  2. Bisexual physical therapy student here! A lot of these are great ideas that I will tuck away for if I ever get this question from a patient. I want to caution against the spooning though. Sidelying is generally not advised after hip replacement unless your legs are good and supported with pillows between the knees because you don’t want the knees falling toward each other. Might be difficult to maintain a nice supported sidelying during sex, and it generally won’t be very comfortable for the patient anyway, so I’d probably stay away from that one. Also, talk to your physical therapist! We are more than happy to answer questions like this, and we generally have more time with you than your physician.

      • I’d say she should talk to her PT about that one to make sure she’s doing it correctly with enough pillow support and no rotation. On the surgical side, as you suggested, is safer, but I can think of several ways someone could still adduct (like if they happened to prop up on an elbow), flex, and/or internally rotate during sidelying sex that wouldn’t be as much of a risk during just sidelying sleeping. So just caution rather than definitely don’t do it.

  3. Physiotherapist here:

    All depends on the approach taken by the surgeon – an anterior approach has fewer restrictions/risky hip positions that could lead to dislocation, but sometimes depending on surgeon preference and what the hip looks like they will do a posterior approach.

    As they all have said so far- with a posterior approach knees can’t go past hip height- so that still leaves a lot of different positions which wouldn’t be risky. Avoiding rotation of the hip- which just means a bit more attentiveness to the position of the leg. And no crossing legs- which makes getting it on a little difficult anyways.

    From my experience- my patients probably aren’t even thinking about it in weeks 1 or 2. But from then on, unless it’s like extreme sexcapades than there’s no reason not too as long as your conscious of the restrictions.

    Main thing you need to know is if it’s an anterior or posterior approach- which will become pretty evident as soon as you see the incision. And someone should be going through your restrictions with you (whether it’s the orthopedic surgeon or a PT).

  4. Ok, here goes nothing:
    The swell part about hip surgery is, that usually, you can be up and about in under two days with great mobility and little pain, when before, the mere thought of movement was associated with sheer agony.
    Things do, of course differ according to technique and implant, so, take this with a grain of salt, and listen specifically to what your doc tells you to do.
    Hip replacement surgery is great and wonderful, and in comparison to other joint surgeries a great deal less of a pain, especially in the rehab department, so actually, I guess it’s going to be more of an issue of not getting too enthusiastic too soon.
    Actually, it’s totally ok to be enthusiastic, however, DO NOT bend that hip at 90° degrees at the waist and/or rotate the foot of that leg 10° in or outwards in the first six to twelve weeks. (Or ever, opinions on this matter)
    The surgical approach will leave a gap in the holding apparatus, which may cause the hip to jump out of the socket in that exact combination.(Depending on the specfic surgical approach it will be a 10° in or outward rotation, you can probably ask about this).
    That is why your wife will need special cushions on all the chairs and seats(we usually sit at a 90°angle) and why you will probably tie her shoes and clip her sandals in place for her for a few weeks.
    Whatever you do in bed, just keep that leg straight to make sure(but do not cross at the ankles). As time passes and muscles strenghten, the danger of dislocation lessens considerably, btw.
    Then, I don’t know what the pain treatment is going to be like, however, make sure that the pain meds don’t make her so comfortable, that she wouldn’t notice any discomfort when you’re getting busy, and she’s overstepping her own bounds.
    Or at least be aware of that possibility.
    Then, of course,there’s the surgery site: Take it easy with any kind of liquids near the bandages and make sure the wound stays clean and doesn’t get irritated or too much strain put on the skin around it.
    Again, meds or numbness at the incision site might not alert her to things like the sheets rubbing there or pressure on it, so be mindful of that, for at least two weeks.
    I hope your wife will find great relief and joy with her new hip and that you two will go for lengthy walks in between doing your thing.

    P.S.: My experience stems mostly from a geriatrics rotation and my own relatives with complicated hip issues, which means, that my experiences with hip surgery are mostly based on the age bracket of 70+.They do tend to put different implants into younger patients, so do check with your doc and physiotherapist for the specifics.

      • I want to get told off for smoking!!! I JUST got back from the a dermatology appt. where I made a big to do about being a smoker (biweekly packs) hoping to get told off and this guy said NOTHING! I was hoping to get a scary med school low down ab how I’ll be dead next week and look like hell always if I don’t stop and he just skipped right by it! “Um, but..what should I do ab wrinkles? Or being on Birth Control and smoking” (stop smoking) “Oh you should be fine, just use this cream.” Etc. Anyway I just thought it was timely I saw this comment because you had no idea that I was just thinking i needed this and that I got shortchanged!

        • You smoke one pack every two weeks?
          Why?
          You’re not even addicted, you know it’s not good for you, and you want to quit, otherwise, you wouldn’t WANT people to tell you off.
          Just stop buying cigarettes, and put it away, come on.
          You know about the cancer, the arteriosclerosis and the chronic lung disease.
          Those are not rare unicorns that pop up once in a while for a few select, very unfortunate people who happen to smoke, but are rather common and messy curses that befall a lot, a lot of people who do smoke and would be avoidable for actually most people, if people wouldn’t smoke.
          Every time you light up, there’s vasoconstriction and inflammation happening in your arteries.
          Also, being female, smoking and on birth control (I don’t know if you’re overweight as well, that would be another risk factor) puts you in danger of thrombosis and pulmonary embolism on long flights/trips, so be mindful of that and think about taking a prophylaxis on those occasions, or make sure to move around regularly.
          Dude, really, you’re your own person, and you do not need some random stranger on the internet or a dermatologist of all things, to tell you off about something that is entirely your choice, your freedom to do, but also entirely your thing to be bearing responsibility for.
          You know that smoking is shitty for you.
          There has been no new studies, no new data, anything, that would say:”Oh, it’s actually not that bad..”, to the contrary,actually.

  5. My advice comes from having a completely unrelated medical condition, and that is that doctors disagree ALL THE TIME. Some worry about certain things a lot while others think they’re trivial. I prefer to be aware of what other drs may say, but actually do what my Dr says. So listen to your surgeon about what movements he specifically restricts and work from there. Take other advice with a pinch of salt.

  6. Seeing this article on the home page caught me completely by surprise. 26 year old lesbian here with two total hip replacements. I had them done when I was 21, two surgeries, 12 weeks apart. The reason being complications from cancer treatment when I was 18 (Disclaimer: I’ve been cancer free for 5 years so no worries 🙂 ) I’ve read the above advice from physiotherapists, physicians etc., but felt it was important for me to add to the conversation. So here it goes:

    -It is so important to do your physiotherapy post-surgery. The more you stick with it, the faster your recovery will be. I slacked off after the first surgery, but learned my lesson and was very diligent about doing my exercises the second time around. Being so young, I bounced back pretty quickly and was walking without any assistance after 2 weeks after both surgeries but that shouldn’t be expected for most people.

    -Both of my hips were done through posterior incisions so I had a very weak ass so to speak haha. Personally, I find that missionary works most of the time, but even almost 5 years after my surgeries, I am still VERY careful as to how far legs can be spread etc. She will know what her limits are and what feels uncomfortable.

    -The good news is: there isn’t much I can’t do, both in my daily life and in terms of positions in the bedroom. I go to the gym 5 days a week and lift weights, it’s important to keep those muscles strong. My daily routing isn’t any different than my friends’ and no one would know any different unless I tell them I have two THR. Just be aware that recovery time is different for everyone. There’s a lot of great advice above as to what activities you and your partner can partake in.

    Wish you both all the best 🙂

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