Fine, yes, okay: the missionary sex position can often be considered “vanilla” for some. But that’s what so good about it—everyone understands what’s going on, and the position itself is versatile enough that you can make it fun. Like, really fun. “A lot of the positions people aspire to are very adventurous, complicated and athletic, which is great. But, let's face it, that's not everyday sex for most people, and not possible at all for many others,” says Tara Struyk, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Kinkly. “Missionary is easy to get into, easy to get out of, and doesn't involve feats of strength or flexibility.”
Plus, missionary can be extremely intimate and romantic. You’re face-to-face with someone you’re super hot for! “It's arousing to be able to look into your partner's eyes and see their facial expression while having sex,” says Carmel Jones, a relationship expert who writes about sex, dating, and relationships at The Big Fling . “It also allows for a lot of skin-to-skin contact.”
But, the number one thing to know about missionary (like, deep in your soul and despite what you see in practically every movie/TV show/ 99.9% of porn) is that most women do not orgasm from penetration alone. And this is—repeat after me—totally normal. The solution? Get your clit involved!
Here are a few ways to do that, for the missionary non-believers.
“Use your hands. This may be the most universal and helpful tip regardless of position,” says Jess O’Reilly, PhD, sex expert at Astroglide. “Reach down and touch yourself. Rub, grind, vibe, play, stroke, press, pulse or caress to your heart’s content. Don’t rely on one body part (a penis or strap-on) to get you off. Your hands are the ultimate sex toy.”
Call in the toys
“Use a toy! Many toys, like the We-Vibe Pivot and Chorus, are designed to be worn during intercourse. Both offer rumbly vibrations and can be adjusted to suit your body and angles,” says O’Reilly. “And if you’re playing with a toy, be sure to use a toy-safe lube like Astroglide’s Toy ‘n Joy so that your toys last for many years to come.”
Once you give your clit the attention it deserves, try some of these tips and tricks to enjoy missionary sex to its fullest potential.
Put a ring on it
“My favorite variation on missionary is adding a vibrating cock ring, so we both get a little rumble in the jungle,” says Goody Howard, resident sex educator for sexual hygiene and body care company Royal.
Build a pillow fort under your butt
“Add a pillow under the receiving partner's hips. It creates the perfect angle for deeper penetration,” says Howard. Not doing it for you? “Bed pillows won't resist that much activity, so I recommend a good position pillow,” says Tami Rose, owner of Romantic Adventures, an adult store in Mississippi.
Use your legs
“Lift your legs and hook them over your partner’s shoulders for deep penetration,” says Ruby Payne, sex expert at adult toy retailer UberKinky. “You can wrap your legs around your partner’s waist for maximized closeness and intimacy, or you can even straighten your legs out (if you’re the receiver) so your partner is almost lying flat against you for some shallow penetration that feels incredible.” (Fact check: True! See The Lock and Load position below.)
“Bringing some light bondage into your missionary position is easy and a great way to add a little spice. With the wrists of the bottom partner cuffed together, you can raise their hands above their head and practice a little power play,” says Searah Deysach, sex educator and owner of feminist sex shop Early to Bed.
Here are 19 of the best positions for missionary sex—and feel free to sprinkle in one (or all) of the tips above for peak pleasure while working your way through 'em. Feel very, very free.
Again, missionary can be insanely intimate. In this take on the classic missionary position, the penetrating partner slows it way down. Seriously. Take every moment and stretch it out—the moment of anticipation just before they enter you when the tip of their penis or strap-on presses against you; the slow slide-in (make it even slower than you think it should be); the moment they’re all in (pause and just feel each other, squeezing your vaginal muscles around them). Add some gentle stimulation—stroke their balls or chest, or hold their face in your hands. So intense.
This position is *chef’s kiss* when both partners have vulvas. “The majority of vulva owners don’t climax from penetration, so they can make the missionary position all about clitoral stimulation by grinding against each other’s thighs and pubic bones, one on top of the other, instead of penetrating,” says Alma Ramírez Acosta, a sexual wellness expert and cofounder of Vibio, a female and LGBT-owned startup making app-controlled sex toys. If you need/crave more stimulation, add toys and/or vibrators. “Double-ended strap-ons allow both the giver and the receiver to be penetrated at the same time.”
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Don’t be afraid to play with your senses. “Play with sensory deprivation and/or overload,” says O’Reilly. “Wear a blindfold. Turn the lights off. Overload your auditory systems with loud music. Lay down a silk or satin sheet. Place something soft and furry between your bodies. Play with the senses to heighten your response to touch, sound, sight and more.” Take it in whatever romantic, exploratory or BDSMy direction you please.
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“To really ramp up missionary, invest in a sex swing,” says Tatyana Dyachenko, sex therapist and relationship expert for Peaches and Screams. “Floating missionary is great because the penetrating partner can pull their partner onto them whilst thrusting. It’s also great for eye-to-eye contact and lots of kissing.”
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A strong-ass vibrator makes everything better. Lie on your back with your hips at the edge of the bed or a table. Your partner stands to penetrate you with penis or strap-on. Fire up the aforementioned strong-ass vibrator (wrap it in a towel or t-shirt if it's too strong) and hold the hell on.
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If you have two humpers in your relationship, you need this. The person on top lubes up their partner's thigh, straddles their leg, then humps and grinds away as they please. The person on the bottom humps and rubs against their partner's thigh, which is conveniently right there between their legs.
Pop a pillow or wedge under your butt and maximize clit stimulation by having the person on top grind their pelvis over your clit with side-to-side or circular hip motions. (Lube, as always, is your friend here.) Pull their ass closer into you with your feet. The penetrating partner kneels so they can switch between thrust and grinds, and if that's not quite doing it for you, use your hand or a toy.
If penetration alone isn't doing it for you (remember: so very, very normal!), get the clit stimulation you crave with a wearable vibrator for hands-free pleasure. If you have a partner with a penis, try one that fits around their penis—it's part cock ring, part clit vibrator, so everyone gets a little boost. (If your partner is wearing a strap-on, it won't do much for them, but you'll like it plenty.)
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Try putting one leg straight down alongside your partner's, bending the other knee up. Your partner's thrusts will rub you in a whole new way and you can shift your hips to rub against their pubic bone or get a different angle going. Little shift, big difference.
Be the boss of missionary by getting on top and taking charge. But instead of the typical woman-on-top thing, really do it like role reversal missionary—hold yourself up with your elbows or hands, put your legs between your partner's and pump away as you please. Total bad ass move. If your partner has a vulva, prop a big-ass wand vibe between you and share the love.
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Go super decadent by lubing yourselves up—everywhere. Cover your chest and legs with lube, then slide around on each other in slippery debauchery. Use a ton of towels or invest in a waterproof blanket specially designed to handle lubes, goos, and such. (Also good for the squirters among us.)
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Lie on your back, spreading your legs and arms like an X. Your partner hovers above you, avoiding most contact except groin to groin. It puts the focus on one thing: the feeling of them penetrating you. (Hand on your clit is totally allowed too.) Close your eyes and just feel or look into each other’s eyes.
If your partner is on the smaller side, or you’re just a fan of extra-deep penetration, prop a pillow under your butt to lift your hips higher on an angle. It’s a subtle shift that changes the sensation dramatically.
On the flip side, having your partner stand and enter you can sometimes ease off some of the depth of penetration, should you be in a “my cervix needs a break” kind of mood. Plus, this one is ideal for doin’ it in the kitchen.
In CAT (aka Coital Alignment Technique), your partner shifts a bit so that their hips are higher than yours. Once inside you, have them lift their hips and grind their pubic bone against your clit. They can circle their hips, rub up and down, or go from side to side—whatever feels right. Super sexy and intimate, great for long passionate kisses, and your best shot for having a hands-free orgasm. Meee-ow.
Remember that ye olde Shoot the Moon wooden game? You two should look like that once you’re in position here. Bend your legs up to your chest and have your partner grab your ankles as they enter you. They can bend your legs, push them together on your chest, spread them apart, push them straight up—the challenge is figuring out exactly the right ways to play you. When at least one of you is groaning incoherently, you have a winner!
When you press your legs together in missionary, suddenly every stroke is enhanced. Seriously, it’s like MSG for sex. (And if your partner’s on the smaller size in the penile region, this is definitely the position for you—they’ll feel like they're filling you up and they won’t slip out.) This position is also good for the super lazy among us because you can take control without moving: Roll your hips around slowly and you’ll get this amazing slide-y friction that will drive you both crazy.
According to famous research by Marta Meana, PhD, being hotly desired is what turns women on most. And there’s no better way to see how much someone desires you than watching them hoist your legs over their shoulders so they can be inside you, like, right now. This twist on missionary also lets them enter you super deep—even deeper if they grab your hips for leverage—which is pretty much always a good thing.
This take on missionary is best if your partner is (too) generously endowed—they won’t be able to enter you quite as deep. In normal missionary, have them spin about 45 degrees to one side so your bodies form an X and they're entering you at a sideways angle. From here, you get a hot view of their sexy back and ass humping you, and you can tell them just how steamy they look.