Yes, you can still engage in sex after your hip replacement surgery. In fact, you are encouraged to do so, within reason. Sex is a very important aspect of everyday life and a new hip should make it better and easier as long as you follow some simple guidelines while you are healing. Your doctor will tell you when it is safe to resume sexual activity, and if he or she doesn't, be sure to ask.
There are a few things that you must be mindful of in order to safely participate in sexual activity. First, remember that you have just had major surgery. You are going to be sore and swollen, and you will likely have a set of precautions to follow due to the invasive nature of your hip replacement surgery. These precautions are extremely important. Memorize them and follow them to the letter.
Hip precautions are designed to facilitate good healing and prevent dislocation so that you can return to your life and enjoy years of carefree usage of your new hip. The most common hip precautions include not bending the hip past ninety degrees, not turning your toes inwards (pigeon-toed), and not crossing your legs. Your doctor and therapists will let you know in detail what precautions you need to follow and for how long.
With your precautions in mind, consider your positions carefully. Anything that causes excessive bending, pressure, or twisting of your hip is off limits. You should also avoid anything that may compromise your balance or cause you to fall. While this does reduce your options, remember that your limitations won't last forever and that a little less variety in the bedroom is better than having to return to the hospital due to a fall or a dislocation.
In addition to hip precautions, be mindful of your surgical incision. In some cases you may return home before your sutures or staples are removed. Follow your doctor's directions to care for it. This might mean avoiding water; no shower or pool romance until your incision is adequately healed. If at any time your incision becomes more painful than usual or begins to bleed or drain, stop what you're doing and contact your doctor.
It is also helpful to plan out your encounters and take your time. We all value spontaneity when it comes to intimacy, but having a plan ensures that you will be prepared and know how to proceed in a safe manner. It's important to educate your partner on what you can and cannot do. Work together to control your movements and pace, and take care getting into and out of positions. It's a collaborative effort!
Above all, remember that caution and patience are key at this stage of healing. If you aren't comfortable attempting sexual activity, the best option is to hold off until you feel more confident. If you do participate in sex after your hip replacement surgery, remember the 3 P's: precautions, positions, plans.
Some resources to help can be found here:
A good reference for safe positions for both sexes, with pictures
A booklet written specifically for joint replacement patients
As always, defer to your doctor's orders. If anything feels unusual or hurts during sex, stop immediately. Most dislocations occur within the first three months after hip replacement surgery so it is critical to listen to your body at this time.
Now that you know how to safely resume sex after your hip replacement, go get 'em, tiger!
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