List of Sex Positions
This list of sex positions includes descriptions of various forms of sexual intercourse and other sexual acts between people. Sexual acts are generally described by the positions the participants take in order to perform those acts. Since the number of positions that can be used for sex is essentially limitless, this list is not exhaustive.
Penetrating partner on top with front entry
These positions are primarily used vaginally, although some can also be used for anal sex. The basic position is called the missionary position. In it, the receiving partner lies on their back with their legs apart. The penetrating partner lies on top of the receiving partner, facing them. The following variations are possible:
- The penetrating partner stands in front of the receiving partner, whose legs dangle over the edge of a bed or some other platform. The Perfumed Garden of Sensual Delight, Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Nafzawi, translated by Jim Coville, 1999, Kegan Paul International, ISBN 0-7103-0644-X, 82 pages.</ref>
- The receiving partner lies on their back. The penetrating partner stands and lifts the receiving partner's pelvis for penetration. A variant is for the receiving partner to rest their legs on the penetrating partner's shoulders.
- The receiving partner lies on their back, with their legs pulled up straight and their knees near their head. The penetrating partner holds the receiving partner's legs and penetrates from above.
- Similarly to the previous position, but the receiving partner's legs need not be straight and the penetrating partner wraps their arms around the receiving partner to push their legs as close as possible to their chest. Called the stopperage in Burton's translation of The Perfumed Garden.
- Like the missionary position, but with the receiving partner's legs tightly closed and the penetrating partner's legs spread. In this position, the couple resembles a peace sign (minus the circle) and so this position is sometimes called by that name.[Citation needed]
- The coital alignment technique, a position where a woman is penetrated vaginally: the penetrating partner enters vaginally in the missionary position and moves slightly forward so that the base of the phallus rubs the clitoris.
- The receiving partner crosses their feet behind their head (or at least puts their feet next to their ears), while lying on their back. The penetrating partner then holds the receiving partner tightly around each instep or ankle and lies on the receiving partner full-length. A variation is to have the receiving partner cross their ankles on their stomach, knees to shoulders, and then have the penetrating partner lie on the receiving partner's crossed ankles with their full weight. Called the Viennese oyster by The Joy of Sex.
Penetrating from behind
Most of these positions can be used for either vaginal or anal penetration.
- The receiving partner is on all fours with their torso horizontal. The penetrating partner inserts from behind. This is called the doggy position.
- In a variant on the doggy position, the receiving partner's torso is angled downwards. The penetrating partner can raise their own hips above those of the receiving partner for maximum penetration.
- In another variant of the doggy position, the penetrating partner places their feet on each side of the receiving partner while keeping their knees bent and effectively raising up as high as possible while maintaining penetration. The penetrating partner's hands usually have to be placed on the receiving partner's back to keep from falling forward.
- In a variant on the doggy position, the receiving partner kneels upright. The penetrating partner may gently pull the receiving partner's arms backwards at the wrists towards them.
- In the spoons position both partners lie on their same side facing in the same direction.
- The receiving partner lies on their side. The penetrating partner kneels and penetrates from behind. Alternatively, the penetrating partner can stand if the receiving partner is on a raised surface.
- The receiving partner lies facing down, possibly with their legs spread. The penetrating partner lies on top of them. The placement of a pillow beneath the receiving partner's hips can help increase stimulation in this position.
- The receiving partner lies face down, knees together. The penetrating partner lies on top with spread legs.
- The receiving partner lies on their side with their uppermost leg forward. The penetrating partner kneels astride the receiver's lowermost leg.
Receiving partner on top
Most of these positions can be used for either vaginal or anal penetration.
- The penetrating partner lies on their back. The receiving partner kneels on top of the penetrator facing them. Sometimes called the cowboy or cowgirl position. See woman on top sex position.
- As above, but the receiving partner sits on top of the penetrator facing away from them. See reverse cowboy/girl position.
- As above, but the receiving partner arches their back with their hands on the ground.
- As above, but the receiving partner squats (instead of kneeling) on top of the penetrator facing toward them.
- The penetrating partner is on their back with the receiving partner lying down on top with their knees brought forward against the ground.
- The penetrating partner lies with their upper back on a low table, couch, chair or edge of bed, keeping their feet flat on the floor and back parallel to floor. The receiving partner straddles them, also keeping their feet on the floor. Receiving partner can assume any of various positions.
- The lateral coital position was recommended by Masters and Johnson, and was preferred by three quarters of their heterosexual study participants after having tried it. The position involves the man on his back, with the woman rolled slightly to the side so that her pelvis is atop his, but her weight is beside his.
Sitting and kneeling
Most of these positions can be used for either vaginal or anal penetration.
- The penetrating partner sits on a flat surface, legs outstretched. The receiving partner sits on top and wraps their legs around the penetrating partner. Called pounding on the spot in the Burton translation of The Perfumed Garden. If the penetrator crosses their legs instead, it is called the lotus position.
- The penetrating partner sits in a chair. The receiving partner straddles penetrating partner and sits, facing the penetrating partner, feet on floor. This is sometimes known as the lap dance. Other receiver-on-top variants can be adapted in this way as well.[Citation needed]
- The penetrating partner sits on a couch or in a chair that has armrests. The receiving partner sits in the penetrating partner's lap, perpendicular to penetrating partner, with their back against the armrest.[Citation needed]
- The penetrating partner kneels while the receiving partner lies on their back, ankles on each side of penetrating partner's shoulders.
Most of these positions can be used for either vaginal or anal penetration. In the basic standing position, both partners stand facing each other. The following variations are possible:
- The penetrating partner stands, holding the receiving partner off the ground. The receiving partner wraps their legs around the penetrator's waist and their arms around their shoulders.
- As above, but the receiving partner's back is pressed against a wall as a frictional support. This is called the supported congress in the Kama Sutra.
- As above, but the penetrating partner's back is pressed against a wall for stability. This is called the suspended congress in the Kama Sutra.
- Both stand, the receiving partner facing away from the penetrating partner. This position is varied by having the receiving partner assume different semi-standing positions. For instance, they may bend at the waist, resting their hands or elbows on a table.
Most penetrative sex positions (see above) can be adapted anally, especially those that involve entry from behind. Other sexual practices involving the vagina, such as fingering, can also be adapted anally. However, some positions are not directly adaptable because of the different angles required for anal and vaginal entry. Here are listed positions that work well for anal sex. The penetrator can either be a man or a woman with a strap-on dildo (or similar).
- Doggy style – see above. This position maximizes the depth of penetration, which may be desirable by either or both partners, but can pose the risk of pushing against the sigmoid colon. If the receiving partner is male, this increases the chances of stimulating the prostate. This position allows for vigorous thrusting. A variation is the leapfrog position, in which the receiving partner angles their torso downward. The receiving partner may also lie flat and face down, with the penetrating partner straddling their thighs.
- Missionary – see above. In order to achieve optimal alignment, the receiving partner's legs should be in the air with the knees drawn towards their chest. Some sort of support (such as a pillow) under the receiving partner's hips can also be useful. The penetrating partner positions themselves between the receiving partner's legs. This position is often cited as good for beginners, because it allows them to relax more fully than is usual in the "doggy" position.
- Spoons – see above. This allows the receiving partner to greatly control initial entry and the depth, speed and force of subsequent thrusting.
- Receiving partner on top – see above section. These are sometimes cited as a good beginning positions, as they allow the receptive partner more control over the depth, rhythm and speed of penetration. More specifically, the receptive partner can slowly push their anus down on the penetrator, allowing time for their muscles to relax.
Less common positions
These positions are more innovative, and perhaps not as widely known or practiced as the ones listed above.
- The receiving partner is on bottom. The penetrating partner lies on top perpendicularly to them.
- The penetrating partner lies on their back, legs spread. The receiving partner is on their back on top of the penetrator, legs spread, facing the opposite direction.
- The penetrator and the receiver lie on their backs, heads pointed away from one another. Each places one leg on the other's shoulder (as a brace) and the other leg out somewhat to the side.
- The receiving partner lies on their back with knees up and legs apart. The penetrating partner lies on their side perpendicular to the receiver, with the penetrating partner's hips under the arch formed by receiver's legs. Sometimes called the T-square. [Citation needed]
- The receiving partner lies on their back with the penetrating partner lying perpendicular. The receiving partner bends the knee closest to the penetrating partner's head enough so that there is room for the penetrating partner's waist to fit beneath it, while the penetrating partner's legs straddle the receiving partner's other leg. The in-and-out thrusting action will move more along a side-to-side rather than top-to-bottom axis. This position allows for breast stimulation during sex, for partners to maintain eye contact if they wish, and for a good view of both partners as they reach orgasm.
- The penetrating partner sits on edge of a bed or chair with feet spread wide on floor. The receiving partner lays on their back on the floor and drapes their legs and thighs over the legs of the penetrating partner. The penetrating partner holds the knees of the receiving partner and controls thrusts.
- The Seventh Posture of Burton's translation of The Perfumed Garden is an unusual position not described in other classical sex manuals. The receiving partner lies on their side. The penetrating partner faces the receiver, straddling the receiver's lower leg, and lifts the receiver's upper leg on either side of the body onto the crook of penetrating partner's elbow or onto the shoulder. While some references describe this position as being "for acrobats and not to be taken seriously," others have found it very comfortable, especially during pregnancy.
- The penetrator straddles one of the legs of the receiver, who is lying on their side. Sometimes known as the Gupta Straddle.
- the piledriver is a difficult position sometimes seen in porn videos. It is described in many ways by different sources. In a heterosexual context, the woman lies on her back, then raises her hips as high as possible, so that her partner, standing, can enter her vaginally or anally. The position places considerable strain on the woman's neck, so firm cushions should be used to support her. A similar position can be used by two lesbians for cunnilingus, and it could presumably be used by two men for anal sex, but it is difficult to find a coherent explanation of the geometry of this position or its variants. A porn actor/actress who has mastered this position is considered an expert. (The piledriver position resembles a wrestling move in which one wrestler picks up his opponent and rams him head-first into the mat. In this case, one might assume an intent to do harm. People trying the sexual position may be assumed to have a different intention, but they must be careful, as injury is possible. Some experts would advise "Don't try this at home.")
Positions involving other body parts
- Intercrural intercourse or interfemoral sex – with the penis between the partner's thighs, perhaps rubbing the vulva, scrotum or perineum.
- Mammary intercourse – with the penis between the breasts.
- Axillary intercourse – with the penis in the armpit.
Using furniture or special apparatus
Most sex acts are typically performed on a bed or other simple platform. As the range of supports available increases, so does the range of positions that are possible. Ordinary furniture can be used for this purpose. Also, various forms of erotic furniture and other apparatus such as fisting slings and trapezes have been used to facilitate even more exotic sexual positions.
Positions to promote or prevent conception
Pregnancy is a potential result of unprotected sex in any position between sexually mature fertile females and sexually mature fertile males. Those who follow the advice of old wives' tales believe certain sexual positions produce more favorable results than others. See Old wives' tale: Having sex standing up is a contraceptive.
Positions during pregnancy
The goal is to prevent excessive pressure on the belly and to restrict penetration as required by the particular partners. Some of the positions below are popular positions for sex during pregnancy.
Non-penetrative genital-genital positions
Frot is rubbing erect penis against erect penis, especially the mutual rubbing of the frenula. A variety of sexual positions are possible. For instance, the partners may both be reclining, sitting, kneeling, or standing. In one more complicated position similar to the "double Y" with women, both partners recline on their backs, one partner's legs over the other. Males may also engage in anal sex with eachother. During frot, a man can masturbate his and his partner's penises simultaneously with one hand. He can also masturbate their penises with the foreskin of one penis over the glans of the other in a position called docking. Circumcised men can also use a sex toy called a "docking sleeve," a tube-shaped device made of silicone, rubber or Cyberskin which takes the place of the foreskin.
As part of foreplay or to avoid penetrative sex, a couple can engage in a variety of genital-genital positions. For instance, the man can rub his penis against his partner's clitoris, or he can slide his penis along the length of her vulva. Since this method of sex can stimulate the clitoris directly, it can, for some women, be more effective at provoking orgasm than penetrative sex. This can also be done clothed:In this case, it is often called dry-humping, or dry-fucking. This practice is sometimes seen in teenagers who are not really sure that they are ready to "have sex."
Oral sex positions
Oral sex involves contact between the genitals and/or anus of one person (the passive partner) and the mouth of another (the active partner).
Fellatio is oral sex involving a man's genitals. Possible positions include:
- The man lies on his back while his partner kneels between his legs.
- The man lies on his back while his partner lies off to the side of his legs.
- The man sits in a chair and partner kneels in front of him between his legs.
- The man stands while his partner either kneels in front of him or sits (in a chair or on the edge of a bed, etc.) and bends forward.
- While the active partner lies on their back, the man assumes the missionary position but adjusted forward so as to insert his penis in his partner's mouth.
- The man stands or crouches at the edge of the bed, facing the bed. The active partner lies on the bed with their head hanging over the edge of the bed backward. The man inserts his penis into his partner's mouth, usually to achieve deep throat penetration.
- The glory hole – the man inserts his penis into a hole in the wall or fence while someone (usually a complete stranger unseen by him) gives him fellatio from the other side of the wall. This act is vaguely reminiscent of the tale of Pyramus and Thisbe, but these two mythical lovers merely passed notes through a hole in the wall, rather than inserting body parts.
Cunnilingus is oral sex involving a woman's genitals. Possible positions include:
- The woman lies on her back as in the missionary position. The active partner lies on their front between her legs.
- The active partner sits. The woman stands facing away and bends at the hips.
- The active partner lies on their back while the woman kneels with her legs at their sides and her genitals on their mouth. Humorously popularised in the Monty Python song "Sit On My Face" (1980).
- The woman stands, possibly bracing herself against a wall. The active partner kneels in front of her.
- The woman sits on the bed with her legs open, the active partner kneels in front of her.
Positions for anilingus, also known as "rimming" or "anal-oral sex", are often variants on those for genital-oral sex. Rimming-specific positions include:
- The passive partner is on all fours as in the "doggy style" position. The active partner is behind them.
- The passive partner is in the missionary position with their legs up.
Simultaneous oral sex
Simultaneous oral sex between two people is called 69. It is called the congress of the crow in the Kama Sutra. Each partner may be male or female. They can be lying side-by-side, lying one on top of the other, or standing with one partner holding the other upside down.
- Fingering of the clitoris.
- Frottage – rubbing one's genitals on one's partner. This is commonly done against the buttocks or their genitals.
- Dry humping – frottage while clothed. This act is common, although not essential, in the dance style known as "grinding".
- Humping – thrusting one's genitals against the surface of non-sexual objects, clothed or unclothed. This word is also used in the UK as slang for penetrative sex.
- Handjob – grasping the penis and moving the hands up and down along its length.
- Footjob – using the feet to stimulate the penis.
- Boobjob - (or titty fuck) using the breasts together to stimulate the penis through the cleavage. (Should not be confused with a "boob job" meaning to have augmentive surgery done on the breasts.)
- Fingering of the vagina or anus.
- Shocker – simultaneous fingering of the vagina and anus using one hand. The index and middle finger are inserted in the vagina, and the pinky in the anus. A number of variations are possible by using different combinations of fingers in each orifice. This act figures prominently in the Story of O: shortly after O's arrival at the Chateau, a man grabs her in this way. O is shocked, but she learns to accept this and ruder intrusions.
- Female shocker – simultaneously fingering a man's anus with one's thumb while stimulating his scrotum with the other fingers. This is done by making a shape with the hands as though one were holding the bowl of a wine glass.
- Fisting – inserting the entire hand into the vagina or anus. This usually requires large amounts of lubricant and relaxation. The hand is usually not actually made into a fist, but instead the thumb is placed between the middle and ring fingers, hence the alternate name "duck-billing".
- Using vibrators/dildos – using inanimate objects to penetrate the vagina or anus.
Various assemblages of people may participate in group sex. While group sex does not imply that all participants must be in sexual contact with all others simultaneously, some positions are only possible with three or more people.
As with the positions listed above, more group sex positions become practical if erotic furniture is used.
With three participants
When three people have sex with each other, it is called a threesome. Possible ways of having all partners in sexual contact with each other include:
- One person performs oral sex on either of the other two partners, one male and one female, while they engage in vaginal intercourse.
- One person is on all fours while being penetrated from behind, simultaneously giving oral sex to a male or woman wearing a strap-on dildo. This is sometimes called fingercuffing. Vaginal and anal variations exist.
- A man has vaginal sex with a woman, while himself being anally penetrated by another man or another woman wearing a strap-on dildo.
- Three partners lie or stand in parallel, with one between the other two. Sometimes called a sandwich. This term may specifically refer to the double penetration of a woman, with one penis in her anus, and the other in her vagina.[Citation needed]
- A man vaginally penetrates one woman while orally performing upon a second woman. The two women can engage in sexplay from the waist up.
- A man has vaginal sex with a woman and both give oral sex to a third person who is either male or female.
- Three people perform oral sex in a triangular configuration.
"Multiple penetration" refers to one person (usually a woman) being sexually penetrated by several objects simultaneously. It generally involves between three and five participants. Penetration may be accomplished by fingers, toes, sex toys (especially women wearing strap-on dildos), or penises. Attempting to accommodate multiple penis-sized objects in either the vagina or the anus can easily be painful, so it is not something that is likely to be done casually. These positions are popular in pornography, but it is difficult to say whether they enjoy any significant popularity outside of it. Positions that are limited to one penetrator per orifice are less challenging.
- If one person is penetrated by two objects, it is generically called double penetration. Given the vagina, anus and mouth, there are six ways in which this can be done. These include
- Simultaneous penetration of the anus by two penises or other objects. This is commonly called double anal.
- Simultaneous penetration of the vagina by two penises or other objects. This is commonly called double vaginal.
- Simultaneous penetration of the vagina and anus. If this is done using penises and/or strap-on dildos, this is sometimes called the sandwich. The shocker (see above) accomplishes this using several fingers of one hand.
- Simultaneous penetration of the mouth and either the vagina or anus. If the penetrating objects are penises, this is sometimes called the spit roast. The character Alyssa Jones in Chasing Amy acquired the nickname "finger cuffs" after participating in this act.
- If one person is penetrated by three objects, it is generically called triple penetration. Possibilities include
- Two penises penetrating the vagina and one in the anus or vice versa. While possible, this position is very difficult.
- Three penises penetrating either the vagina or the anus simultaneously.
- Simultaneous penetration of a woman's vagina, anus, and mouth.
- Penetration by larger numbers of objects is rarer and generally not named, although it is clear how to extend the nomenclature given above. There is one well known exception:
- Double vaginal double anal penetration (DVDA) – simultaneous penetration of the vagina and anus of a single woman by two penises each. The term gained popularity after its inclusion in the movie Orgazmo by South Park co-creator Trey Parker, and is also the name of Parker's and Matt Stone's band. There is no evidence that DVDA has ever occurred.
These variations of multiple penetration are commonly seen in pornography aimed at straight men. Some of these positions put two men in intimate contact with each other, either directly or indirectly.. Many heterosexual men are reluctant to try such acts for this reason.
With many participants
These positions can be expanded to accommodate any number of participants.
- A group of males masturbating one another in turn is called a circle jerk or bukkake in Japan. This term is also used to describe other male group masturbation activities.
- A group of men, women, or both, each performing oral sex on the next, is called a daisy chain. This term is also sometimes means a group of men simultaneously penetrating and being penetrated by each other anally in a chain formation.
- A group of men in a line, coupled to each other through anal or oral sex. This can form a full circle, and there can be a woman either at the front of the chain or in the middle being doubly penetrated.
General position lists
- Loversguide.com's "Illustrated Sex Positions"
- Sexinfo101.com's "Sex Positions Guide"
- Sex and Relationship's commentary on sex positions