Intercourse: Positions 101

Sometimes, whether it's for fun or to enhance your own pleasure or please a partner, people are interested in exploring different positions during intercourse. Many people are just curious, too, about how a certain position feels or looks.

Experimenting with different positions during sex is an effortless part of sex for some people—it's simply what they do in bed and happens naturally. For others, they usually prefer a comfortable position or two and trying something new can add a sense of pressure or even self-consciousness for people who haven't experimented much with different types of intercourse positions.

It's always important to respect your comfort zone during sex and that of a partner. However, keeping an open mind about positions during intercourse can be a smart strategy for a lifetime of satisfying sex. Whether because of aging, childbirth or even temporary injuries that limit your mobility for a time, how a person likes to have sex is likely to change and trying new positions can be an important part of staying sexually active and satisfied.

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Tips for deep penetration that satisfies both partners.

Bodies fit together in different ways. A position that was enjoyable with one partner may be less enjoyable with another, whether because the penis is a different size (or points in a different direction) or the vagina is shorter or longer or differently shaped. Aging, too, can change how we feel in certain positions. Deep penetration in particular can be uncomfortable or even painful for many women. Many men enjoy positions that “go deep,” since these may allow for the most thrusting, are likely to stimulate the entire length of the penis and, as a result, may offer intense or varied stimulation.

Usually, there are a few easy adjustments that a couple can make to keep sex satisfying, but also comfortable, for both partners. Shifting the focus to arousal and enjoyment is a good first step. When a woman is maximally aroused before intercourse, she benefits from a vaginal tenting process, in which muscular contractions pull the cervix farther back into the body, lengthening the vaginal canal. The penis hitting the cervix is usually what causes pain during deep penetration (though some women like cervical stimulation).

So, focus on foreplay and consider modifying your position if intercourse is still uncomfortable. Woman-on-top may be a particularly useful position for couples struggling with uncomfortable sex, since it allows a woman to control the depth, angle and rhythm of penetration. Missionary is also good—a woman can control the depth by keeping her legs flat and closer together, then widening her legs or raising her knees as arousal increases, or as she feels comfortable accepting more of her partner into her body. Another compromise is to spend some time in positions that allow for deeper penetration, so long as it's not too uncomfortable or painful, and then switch to a position that feels good to both of you.

Positions that increase the odds of an intercourse orgasm for women.

Just one-third of women regularly reach orgasm during intercourse. Another third need added direct stimulation of the clitoral glans and the final one-third find it's easier to orgasm from other types of sexual activity, whether manual or oral stimulation, sex toys or other types of sex play, or have trouble reaching orgasm at all.

Many intercourse positions do not directly stimulate the clitoral glans. If a woman is able to reach orgasm through other types of stimulation (such as masturbation, hand stimulation or cunnilingus), but not during intercourse, adding some direct clitoral stimulation to intercourse may be helpful. A woman or her partner can use one or two fingers to rub the clitoral glans during intercourse. A small vibrator works well, too, especially bullet vibrators that can be attached to a penis ring for hands-free stimulation (and some secondary vibration for him).

Certain positions can increase clitoral stimulation, too, like the CAT or woman-on-top, especially if a woman leans towards her partner's face while on top. Still, some women (up to 30 percent) simply don't orgasm during intercourse. If you're one of them, move on to other activities like oral or manual stimulation. Some women just don't orgasm from intercourse, and it has nothing to do with how much they're enjoying themselves or a partner's penis size or skill in bed. Then there are women who can orgasm during intercourse but prefer to orgasm from other types of stimulation. And, too, not all women are concerned about whether or not they orgasm during sex. If you have difficulty having an orgasm, try to focus on the other types of sexual activity that bring you pleasure and if the lack of orgasm bothers you, make a visit to a healthcare provider and/or sex therapist to discuss it.

Intercourse positions to stimulate the G-spot.

Every woman's vagina is different, including where she might or might not find her G-spot. So, too, is every man's penis different, in terms of its length and also which direction it points, which varies from one man to the next and also as a function of age. (As a rule, a man's penis points slightly lower as he ages.)

As a result, stimulating the G-spot during intercourse may take some exploration, which can work to a couple's advantage, so long as they're not attached to the idea of finding the G-spot.

Positions that increase the likelihood of finding the G-spot include those that shallowly stimulate the top wall of the vagina (the side closest to the belly button). The G-spot is usually located within a couple of inches of the vaginal opening, though women and their partners may find other pleasurable spots elsewhere.

Woman-on-top is great for allowing a woman to lean forward or back, as well as try Reverse Cowgirl, to see if a certain angle hits the spot. The CAT can be very good for G-spot stimulation, as can The Right Angle, which is basically missionary with a pillow propped underneath a woman's hips. Couples also might want to try Facedown Rear-Entry, in which a woman laying flat face-down on the bed, while he enters her from behind, again experimenting with depth and angle of penetration.

Adventurous intercourse positions.

Trying new positions during intercourse is a common way that many couples change up a sexual repertoire. And while it can be fun if both partners are on board, positions that are too adventurous can cause some people anxiety, self-consciousness or even laughter (which isn't necessarily a bad thing!).

If you want to try something new, check out our list of positions [link]. It's always best to approach a partner gently with any type of sexual request. Make sure you express how much you care about him or her and that you are happy with your sex life, and are simply curious about or interested in trying something new. Approach it with a fun, lighthearted attitude and see what happens. Also, keep in mind that new positions often take some getting used to. Acrobatic sexual positions in particular aren't always conducive to orgasm, since one or both people aren't as relaxed as they might be in more familiar positions, both mentally and physically. You can try a new position for the novelty, without expectation of performance or orgasm, and either stay in it or move in and out of it to then go on to try something new.

Why some men enjoy rear-entry during intercourse.

Some women feel uncomfortable or perhaps offended when a partner wants to have sex in the Rear-Entry position. It may be that rear-entry sex feels too dominant or impersonal, or it may simply feel too animalistic.

If a woman has these concerns, she should consider talking about these concerns with a partner. Chances are, she'll discover her anxieties are completely unfounded and that her partner enjoys rear-entry because it feels good for him. Entering a woman from behind offers a different kind of stimulation for a man, mainly deeper penetration that allows for more thrusting, without the need to prop himself up (which can be tiring) as he may in missionary.

Of course, if a guy always wants to have rear-entry sex or is resistant to including other positions, it's likely other issues are at work that have little to do with his partner. Sex should always be enjoyable for both partners, so talk about why rear-entry is so enjoyable and how it can be part of your sex life, but not all of it.

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