Sex Techniques and Positions: The best guide to sex and lovemaking on the Internet
Man on top: the missionary position - uncomplicated, satisfying sex
Man on top: the missionary position* - uncomplicated, satisfying sex
The pictures lower down the page all expand when you click on them!
Man on top is the most popular sex position - and for very good reason!
It provides great intimacy, the chance to kiss, lots of eye contact, and close physical connection between all the most erogenous and sexually sensitive bits of both lovers.....
Best of all, perhaps, from the man's point of view, is that he can move his pelvis freely, and so has great control over the depth and pace of his thrusting.
Generally his penis will be at a very comfortable angle when it enters his partner's vagina, and he can control his pelvic thrusts, making them as deep or shallow as he and she want.
The fact that he can change the speed and depth of his movements means that he can find exactly what gives both him and his partner the greatest pleasure and the most powerful orgasms.
It's unlikely that his penis will slip out, but taking it slowly will help ensure that he remains inside her.
Men: penetrating her slowly is good for your partner's pleasure: many women love the teasing sensation of their partner's penis slowly entering their vagina just an inch or two, then stopping, then resuming its inward journey, perhaps moving in and out several times within the first inch or two of the vagina before it goes deep into her.
(It's important to respect the moment of penetration, especially if you are making slow, romantic and gentle love.
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For a woman, the moment of penetration is a symbol of opening herself up to her man, and she needs to be ready both psychologically and emotionally if she is to enjoy it to the full.
Her partner can check if she is ready by feeling how moist she is - or she may tell him that she wants him to enter her.
That's the ideal way to judge when the moment is right for penetration, because a woman can be physically aroused (i.e. her vagina may be wet) but not emotionally ready for penetration.
And it's also possible for a man to have a hard cock but not to be turned on mentally - if you're a man and you've ever been in a situation where you knew that you didn't want sex despite having an erection, you'll understand this.
The basic man on top position illustrated
Once you're inside your partner, you can begin to thrust gently at first, and also with quite shallow movements, moving your pelvis slowly back and forth and allowing time for the two of you to become fully attuned to the energies flowing between you.
Ways to make man on top sex better for both of you
Penetrating your partner does not mean that you can thrust away regardless of what she wants!
Apart from the fact that hard thrusting ("banging") can be unpleasant for a woman, she may experience a whole variety of feelings when your penis enters her - and so may you, of course - and it's good to take time to savor the experience and feel it fully.
You may wish to keep your eyes open so that you can look at each other as you make love; that adds to the intimacy.
Some lovers prefer to close their eyes and focus on what they are feeling - that's especially true for sensitive people who can be a bit overwhelmed by all the sensations and feelings that sex produces.
These days, most men realize that a woman wants more than the physical side of sex - she wants the emotional connections and feelings of being loved by her partner.
And even if women's sexuality is a puzzling mystery to most men, at least we are capable of showing love and affection during sex and gaining great pleasure from our partners' sexual happiness.
And it's true that most men do actually want to make their woman happy - it's very rewarding for men to give their partner an orgasm, or see her enjoying the feeling of him being inside her.
Equally, the man can raise himself on his arms so his weight pins her down less.
Both of these variations allow her to assert her sexuality more and to gain greater physical pleasure from her own movements.
If this is uncomfortable for the woman, for example if she gets squashed by his weight, or she's pregnant and can't have her man resting his weight on her, or if she wants more clitoral stimulation than the position in the photo above offers, there are many ways to vary the experience.
However, that's only true if the man has a larger than average penis or a flexible erection which will bend down at right angles to his body even when he is completely erect.
If a man has a small penis, or if his erection is inflexible and points straight up towards his face when he's erect, he's not likely to be able to go very deeply into his partner in this position.
When you're using sex positions which offer the possibility of deep penetration, it's important that you don't thrust too deep or too hard in the early part of sex.
This is because a woman's vagina only reaches its maximum length when she's sexually aroused; until then, her uterus may not be fully elevated, which means your penis can hit it if you thrust too vigorously or deeply before she's ready for deep penetration.
The pleasure of watching penetration
Men, as you know, are very visual, and take great pleasure from the sight of their partner naked and sexually open to them, and they especially enjoy watching the act of penetration.
So any variation of man on top sex (or any other position!) which allows a man to see what is happening is likely to prove highly arousing!
Of course a woman may also be aroused and excited by seeing her partner's penis entering her body.
But what is arousing and exciting varies from woman to woman: for some it will be knowing they are going to give themselves to their partner; for others, it will be the physical pleasure of vaginal thrusting; for others it will be the whole act of sex, especially the love and intimacy that the act of sex implies.
Sexual fulfillment, too, comes from different things: some women will want to have orgasmic pleasure, others will want the sense of closeness and love; and some will want to experience the sheer physical pleasure of being penetrated.
One of the great things about the missionary position is that it allows the two lovers to kiss and cuddle while they make love.
Whole body contact is easily achieved, as is eye contact and the luxurious feeling of being surrounded by your partner's body as you enjoy sex.
Woman holds the man close
One of the questions which features a lot in our postbag is whether or not the man on top position produces good sex for the woman.
This question often seems to come up because woman wants to enjoy an orgasm during intercourse, but she can't when her man is on top.
Well, no, because orgasm during vaginal penetration is not particularly common for women - at least, not from vaginal thrusting alone.
Only a small minority of women actually come just from their partner's thrusting: most who reach orgasm during intercourse do so because either they or their partner is stimulating their clitoris as they make love.
Obviously this is easiest when you can get a hand or finger to her clitoris, but there are other ways in which you can produce friction on the clitoris - for example, the woman can pull her man in towards her with her legs, so that as he moves, his body weight presses more firmly on the clitoral region.
This may be very effective when he moves in a rocking or circular motion rather than a thrusting one.
Man enters his partner from behind
A variation of the man on top position which can produce very intense stimulation of a woman's G-spot.
Depending on the angle of the man's penis and her vagina, this may even be too intense for her. So take it gently and softly at first, to see how you both like it.
The easiest way to get into this position is to start from the kneeling rear entry and slowly lower yourselves down onto the bed.
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Varying the angle of penetration
A very good way to avoid the mechanical rhythm of repeated thrusting - which can become boring and unstimulating for a woman - is to vary what you're doing by changing position so that you stimulate different parts of the vagina (and, for that matter, the penis).
The best sex is fun, enjoyable, and varied, and by taking up a position during sex in which he enters his partner from a slightly angled sideways position like the one shown in the first of the four pictures above, a man can give his partner extra pleasure by pressing his penis on different areas of her vagina - some of which may be more sensitive than others.
Woman raises her legs
By lifting one of his partner's legs over his shoulder, a man may find that he can move more easily and at the same time press his body against his partner's vulva region, which can add to her excitement in this position.
Any position which allows the man to put a hand under one or both of his partner's buttocks and pull them slightly and gently apart can be very exciting for the woman - the gentle spreading of the cheeks of her bottom will pull on her anus and add a lot of intensity to the sensations she is experiencing as he thrusts.
The same is true of a gentle spreading of her vulva, for example as he gives her cunnilingus, or plays with her with a finger.
For some women, the sense of being opened up and exposed to his gaze can be a powerful and exciting experience.
* The legend is that the man on top or missionary position, with both partners lying down, was named after white missionaries by Pacific Islanders, who saw the white men and women having sex in the man on top position - the only one the missionaries deemed acceptable. Apparently the islanders preferred to have sex in the woman on top position, with the woman squatting.
More notes about man on top sexual positions
The well-known man on top position has many advantages besides the ease with which two people can get into it.
Face-to-face sex positions allow the partners to look at one another, and the sight of the pleasure which one partner is enjoying increases the arousal of the other.
Deep kisses in which the man's tongue explores his partner's mouth, or where he sucks her lower lip, or tongue, can add greatly to the intensity of her sexual and orgasmic sensations.
Kisses upon other parts of her head, throat and body are almost equally arousing. He can also kiss her nipples in this position.
Another advantage is the ease with which the man can control the movements of his penis - this gives him some ability to control his progress towards orgasm.
But this advantage is effective only because, from the position she is in, the woman can make only small pelvic movements.
Disadvantages of man on top sex - which are not very significant - include the fact that in this position, penetration may not be very deep, even when a couple lift the woman's hips with a pillow.
The reason why a pillow may or may not be needed is that the positioning of the entrance to
The variation is not great, a maximum of merely two or three centimeters, but it is surprising how much difference in accessibility to penetration the forward or backward setting of the vaginal entrance can make to the depth of penetration.
A forward-set vagina (away from the anus) is the more advantageous in that it allows deeper penetration, but even with a penis of average length it allows penetration to little more than two thirds of the depth of the vagina.
A backward-set vagina (towards the anus) not only lessens this depth of penetration, but it can, if set well back, cause the man some discomfort, by requiring the penis to adopt an unnatural angle to achieve penetration at all.
The advantage of a forward-set entrance can be almost completely offset by the slimness of a woman's buttocks; while, conversely, the disadvantageous feature of a backward-set entrance can be corrected by buttocks of prominent contours.
Placing a pillow, or even pillows, under the woman's buttocks, thus lifting her pubic area up towards the man's pubic area, can help a great deal here.
(Deep penetration is important because both partners seek that extra closeness at moments during sex; it is psychologically fulfilling for both the man and the woman to feel completely and deeply locked together at certain points during sex.)
Most women will, as they approach the point-of-no-return, and thereafter until they reach orgasm, experience a strong need for deep penetration or a feeling of fullness in the vagina.
When you as a couple have discovered how to raise her pubic area to the height that allows deepest penetration when the woman is laying on the bed with her legs stretched straight, you can easily and quickly increase the depth of penetration to the maximum this position allows by having the woman draw up her knees towards her breasts as far as they will go without discomfort.
If she then crosses the lower part of her legs over the small of her partner's back, exerting a downward pressure with them on his back, and at the same time, firmly presses her hands, one on each of her man's buttocks, there is a sensation in both partners that very deep penetration is being achieved.
The problem with deep penetration is that it makes most men come very quickly - if you are trying to , the answer might be to use a position where you penetrate less deeply, such as side by side.
The Riding High Position
As an alternative to full intercourse, try "high riding". When the woman is lying on her back, she has her legs parted enough to allow her partner to lie between them.
Instead of inserting his glans into her vagina, he puts its undersurface at the front of her vulval cleft, where the labia come together and, making movements of his pelvis, rubs it backwards and forwards in the crease.
The most sensitive part of the penis (the undersurface of the glans) is now against the most sensitive part of the female genitalia, the
Lubricated, if necessary, the friction is now varied in pressure, speed, the length of the rubbing, and to an extent the direction.
The glans will quickly rub its way between the lips, separating them and leaving the clitoris exposed to the action. Its own undersurface, which is also the most sensitive part of the clitoris, is the part mostly affected.
This high-riding is for some people an extremely erotic sensation. Some women prefer it to actual penetration.
By having her head and shoulders up on pillows and by him using his arms to lever himself clear of the woman, they can both also watch the glans as it slithers towards their faces.
Both can detect the subtle movements of greatest sensation and anticipate them. Both too can watch ejaculation over the woman's mons pubis and abdomen.
As the shaft of the penis is scarcely if at all compressed, the semen may well squirt powerfully and a long way up. Many couples find this to be highly arousing.
The vulva is not the only place for using the penis. Some men and indeed women will enjoy rubbing their penis up between the buttocks.
This is best done by placing her on her knees with her thighs far enough apart for him to kneel. He kneels very close to her, places his penis almost upright between her cheeks and rubs.
She, looking back between her legs sees the testicles dangling and moving and may enjoy the sensation of them against her.
He sees the action very clearly that can arise from the penis stroking over the back part of the vaginal lips, the perineum and its hair, and, in particular, over the sensitive area of her anus.
Another way is to place the penis in the fold of the groin. This can be done from on top or from the side.
She in particular may enjoy lying flat, face up or down, with the penis tightly trapped between the closed thighs and the vulval lips.
Suitably positioned, she can also play with its glans as it emerges on each thrust. The erotic effects of high-riding, on women more especially, have to be indulged in to be appreciated. They can be colossal.
There is also an advantage accruing from the fact that, proceeding to orgasm, the semen is not squirted into the vagina. Pregnancy is possible without actually putting semen in the vagina, but don't rely on it as a contraceptive measure.