Most couples, at some point or another, will run into some kind of obstacle in their sex lives. Maybe they will feel less desire for each other over time, or maybe one or both partners will experience issues with arousal, orgasm, or pain during sex.
These issues are common and nothing to be ashamed of, and while it’s important to bring them up with a doctor or therapist, sometimes easy fixes like changes in position can go a long way.
Here, we’ve assembled advice from 43 different sex therapists and educators, on the best sex positions for overcoming different types of sexual problems: issues with ejaculation control, erection firmness, depth of penetration, clitoral stimulation and orgasm, intimacy, and painful sex.
Read on to see the full results and learn some tips for combating these 6 common sexual issues.
Best Positions for Better Ejaculation Control
30-40% of men experience premature ejaculation at some point in their lives.
Technically speaking, this is when ejaculation occurs within a minute of penetration almost all the time and is not to the individual’s liking.
Although sex does not need to last a long time to be great, certain positioning adjustments can allow your erections to last longer.
Therapists rated spooning, missionary, doggy, and woman-on-top as the best positions for delaying ejaculation.
Spooning (30%) – Why does it work?
Spooning can often be associated with a post-coital activity, but as a sexual position, it has its own merits.
It gives you a great deal of control, optimal skin-to-skin contact, a good amount of blood flow to the penis, and because of the angle and shallow thrust, it slows down the ability to go too quickly.
You will have to pay more attention to detail to get your penis where it needs to be, which will switch the focus from whether or not you will finish quickly.
Remember, the brain is your biggest sex organ! A little cognitive shift can go a long way.Chamin Ajjan, LCSW, A-CBT, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Spooning is excellent for reducing the amount of stimulation (reduction of stimulation creates a longer sexual experience).
Partners lay in a spooning position; penis is inserted into vagina. This is helpful because the depth and intensity of the friction or movement is very well controlled which enables a prolonged sexual experience.
If needing less intensity, the male can stay still or gently move while remaining inside their partner.
This position creates a slower sexual encounter and minimized ability for fast hard thrusting.Heather Huckett, PLLC, MA in Couple and Family Therapy with a Certificate in Sex Therapy
“As a bonus, many women who enjoy the spooning position enjoy the intimacy, comfort, and closeness it provides. Wanting to be nurtured and feel closer to your partner is one motivation for this position.”Rachel Needle, PsyD, Licensed Psychologist and Certified Sex Therapist
Missionary (24%) – Why does it work?
Some men report that the missionary position allows them better awareness of when they are about to cum, referred to as ejaculatory inevitability.
When men begin to notice that they are getting close, they can slow down, control the rate of thrust, and ask their partner to ‘just be with me’ while they focus on breathing and reducing the intensity of nearing ejaculation.Joseph Winn, MSW, LICSW, CST-S, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist and Supervisor of Sex Therapy
When it comes to positioning I would say the more control you have the better.
It can be a lot easier to control ejaculation if you are in the more dominant, giving position and in control of your own movements. Being on top in the missionary position will give you the most control over your speed with your partner.Jessica Rubinstein, LMFT, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
This position allows for deep penetration and a sexy view for both parties involved.
When on top, you’re the one in control so you can determine how fast or deep you penetrate your partner, thus allowing the penetrating partner to slow down or pull out to take a break if they want to delay ejaculation.Holly Wood, MS, LMFT, Clinical Sexologist
Doggy (13%) – Why does it work?
For this scenario I recommend a position that gives the partner wanting to delay ejaculation, maximum control of their bodies so that they can slow down or stop sexual stimulation before reaching the ‘point of no return’ — a sensation of intense arousal preceding ejaculation.
This can actually be achieved in any position as long as the partners communicate during sex. Saying things like ‘let’s slow down’ or ‘I would like to pause because I want this to last longer’ can be really helpful.
However, sometimes it can be difficult to talk about/during sex.
A few positions to try are: a partner who is penetrating positions themselves on top and face to face with their partner so that they have full control of their arms and legs or doggy style.
This allows the partner who is penetrating to be fully in control of the speed and the depth of the thrusting and decrease the stimulation.Nina Hausfeld, LPC, ATR, SCT, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
I’d recommend any position where the man has control over the thrust depth and speed.
This way, the male partner can withdraw to tamper down sensitivity, as well as stop and start when needed.Victoria M. Beltran, MPH, CHES, CSE, AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator
To delay ejaculation, it’s important for men to be able to control sensation, so positions such as missionary, doggy, or spooning are ideal. Pick the position that is least intense or visually stimulating.Danica Mitchell, LCSW, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Cowgirl (12%) – Why does it work?
The head of the penis is highly sensitive, so the more vigorous friction it receives, the more likely the man is to ejaculate.
Deeper penetration can actually be less intense stimulation for the man, depending on how tight the vagina is around the head of the penis.
While doggy style and missionary will give the man the most control, having her on top may allow him to relax and maintain deeper penetration and reduce overstimulation of the head of the penis.
Each couple is a bit different and some experimentation is recommended!Sara Sloan, LMFT, Sex Therapist
Lying on your back with your partner on top allows for your partner to be in control, for you to sit back and relax and your ability to eagerly thrust is reduced.
It also gives you the chance to communicate with your partner when you are getting close to ejaculation and get a close up view of your partner’s moves!Chamin Ajjan, LCSW, A-CBT, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Positions that are deeper and focus more on the base of the penis shaft, rather than the glans.
These positions often limit range of motion and friction, reducing overstimulation, such as the Cowgirl position with the penetrated partner straddling the penetrating partner on top while they lie on their back.Rebbeca Lahann, PsyD, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Cowgirl is a great option for men trying to prolong ejaculation, because the partner is on top and in control of the pace, depth of the experience.
While this can be a very visually stimulating experience for men, they remain relatively passive.
Holding the woman’s hips in place when needing to slow down is an option here.Heather Huckett, PLLC, MA in Couple and Family Therapy With a Certificate in Sex Therapy
What else can you do to improve ejaculation control?
Sex positions alone will probably not be enough to overcome full-blown premature ejaculation. The most common techniques recommended by sex therapists are:
The stop-start method: When you masturbate, stop when you feel like you are about to orgasm, take a few deep breaths to calm yourself down, start again, and repeat, allowing yourself to orgasm after you do this 3-4 times. Once you have mastered this technique during masturbation, you should be able to last longer during partnered sex.
As an alternative, try practicing the squeeze technique during masturbation: When you feel like you are about to orgasm, squeeze the head of your penis, with one finger on top of the ridge where the head meets the shaft and one on the bottom. Resume once the urge to climax passes.
- Ejaculation delay products: There are sprays and creams made specifically for ejaculation control, and some find that they last longer with condoms, especially those made specifically for this purpose.
- Speaking to a sex therapist about any deeper issues in the relationship or mental health issues that may be contributing to premature ejaculation.
- Medications: If these methods fail, some doctors prescribe medications such as SSRI antidepressants to delay ejaculation.
I would like to note that many men believe they ejaculate too early, when in fact they are in the healthy range of normal. Working with a sex therapist and learning behavior techniques, while also working with mental/emotional variables may also be beneficial.Alexandria Saunders, Clinical Sexologist, LCPC, LAC
Best Positions for Problems with Erection Strength
Erectile dysfunction is another common issue, affecting about 40% of men at age 40 and 70% at age 70.
It is not a problem if you are occasionally unable to get or maintain an erection, but finding the right position can help keep your penis erect and firm.
Experts voted doggy, cowgirl, reverse cowgirl, and spooning as the best positions for erection strength.
Doggy style (35%) – Why does it work?
Doggy style allows for deeper penetration, and the insertive partner can control the speed and depth.
Doggy style also allows the insertive partner to stay relaxed, and the position is less likely to obstruct blood flow to penis than the previous, aforementioned positions.Alex Tatum, PhD, CST, Licensed clinical psychologist and AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
The visual of seeing your penis move in and out can help maintain a firmer erection due to increased arousal, and the penis owner can engage their pelvis muscles more easily.Kate Klein, LMHC, Psychotherapist and Sex Therapist
“In order to help keep an erection longer, you must try moving as little as possible. Doggy style is best, you are getting the most stimulation with the least amount of movement.Neeka Wittern, Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Pursuing a Sex Therapy Certification from AASECT
Cowgirl (18%) – Why does it work?
“A lot of men with erectile issues report that positions where they lay on their back can be helpful with their erectile strength. This is likely a result of blood flow and circulation.
A position where your partner rides you can be a great one for this purpose.
You also benefit from seeking a doctor’s advice for your heart health if you experience frequent erectile difficulties.David F. Khalili, MA, LMFT, Psychotherapist, Couples Therapist
For ED in a heterosexual relationship, I do think having a view of the partner is helpful and I would suggest cowgirl or doggy for view.Maddie Sheffer, MS, MMFT, AMFT, Sex Therapy Sex Educator
Another great position for men experiencing ED is the cowgirl position.
Unlike reverse cowgirl, with this sex position, the receiving partner faces the penetrating partner.
This gives the [man] a full view of their partner, allows them to watch penetration, and provides the visual arousal most men need to maintain an erection.Holly Wood, MS, LMFT, Clinical Sexologist
I would recommend the woman be on top, where she can focus more on clitoral stimulation and less on the larger thrusting.Sara Sloan, LMFT, Sex Therapist
Reverse cowgirl (14%) – Why does it work?
Reverse Cowgirl allows you to stay relaxed while lying propped up on your back which optimizes blood flow to the penis.
It also creates a lot of friction, engages those pelvic muscles and is hot to watch!Chamin Ajjan, LCSW, A-CBT, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Positions that allow for the most blood flow, nitric oxide levels and a relaxed pelvic floor, such as 1) Doggy Style, having the receiving partner on top or 2) Reverse Cowgirl, or 3) Spooning, allowing the penetrating partner to control rate of stimulation and pelvic muscle relaxation.Rebbeca Lahann, PsyD, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
If they are men partnered with someone with a vulva, the cowgirl and reverse cowgirl can give access to the clitoris for their male partner and allow them to achieve a deeper penetration right away in intercourse.Jessica Rubinstein, LMFT, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Spooning (11%) – Why does it work?
Those with a penis need: powerful pelvic muscles, good blood flow to the organ, and necessary penile nerve stimulation and sensitivity.
This could be a potential medical concern, so I would first recommend erection weakness to be discussed with a primary care doctor or a urologist.
That said, missionary, spooning, partner on top, cowgirl, and oral sex are all options for satisfying sexual experiences.
These positions allow the body to stay more physically relaxed, do not put excess strain on the body, optimize body contact, and enhance arousal and visual stimulation.Genevieve Gellert, MSW, LCSW, RYT, Psychotherapist and Sexologist
For men partnered with other men, the side to side ‘spoon’ position can be effective at giving more pressure for themselves and their partner while also having access to each other’s genitals.Jessica Rubinstein, LMFT, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Spooning (in the morning): erections are usually the strongest in the morning, take advantage!Monifa Ellis-Addie, LMFT, CCPS-C, LMFT, Sexual Health Coach
What else can you do to improve erection strength or deal with a weak erection:
- Consult a doctor, as erectile difficulties can point toward underlying health issues.
- It is estimated that about 20% of all ED cases are psychological. In that case, one of the more promising solutions is mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy. Speak to a sex therapist, who can teach you how to stay more present during sex and manage thoughts of anxiety that may be contributing to erectile dysfunction.
- Other ways to improve erectile strength include spending more time on foreplay, incorporating other forms of stimulation (such as anal stimulation) during intercourse, taking the focus off penetration in order to reduce performance pressure, and taking prescription medications such as Viagra or Cialis.
The second position to consider would be oral sex on your partner.
I selected this position due to the fact that it allows the partner who might begin to experience loss of erectile strength time to break and engage in another arousing act.
This can give the penis time to become more erect so that previous thrusting can take place.Cortina Louis, PhD, LMHC – QS, LPC, CSE, AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator
There is a lot of exploration and learning about erection strength. For example, those practicing Tantra learn to penetrate without an erection and to allow the build up to happen inside of the vagina or anus, rather than outside.
There is so much misinformation about the penis that it could be helpful to first look at how your body can work for you to enjoy and offer pleasure to another, instead of focusing on how to fix something.
Again, it is important to rule out any possible medical concerns regarding any sexual issue.Alexandria Saunders, Clinical Sexologist, LCPC, LAC
I am a big believer in using non pharmaceutical methods to overcome problems with erection strength, like sex position, increasing psychological stimulation and also de prioritizing intercourse as a primary focus in a sexual experience.
However there is also a stigma around using PDE5 inhibitors, that there is something “wrong” with men if they have erectile unpredictability or that they are somehow “not turned on” enough by their partners.
This can create a lot of anxiety in men, which in turn impacts their erection strength. PDE5 inhibitors can be a great supplement to help overcome these issues.Juliane Maxwald, Licensed Psychoanalyst and Sex Therapist
Best Positions for Deep Penetration
When it comes to penis size, bigger is not necessarily better.
Research shows that women actually prefer a penis to be around average size, and if your penis is on the smaller side (or you and your partner just want to make things more intense), the doggy, butterfly, cowgirl, and missionary-with-wedge position can help you achieve deep penetration.
Doggy style (18%) – Why does it work?
Partner B is on their hands and knees while partner A is penetrating them from behind and utilizing the angle of penetration for maximum depth.
In addition, this leaves Partner A’s hands free to provide additional pleasure to Partner B so that partner B’s body can feel open and receptive to deep thrusting.Nina Hausfeld, LPC, ATR, SCT, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Any position where a man (or anyone with a penis) is positioned behind will provide deeper penetration.
Sex positions, such as doggie style or reverse cowgirl can offer a deeper penetration and a sense of fullness.Alexandria Saunders, Clinical Sexologist, LCPC, LAC
Deep penetration can often happen from behind so long as someone’s behind doesn’t get in the way.
For folks with a larger tush, having hips propped up on a pillow and the legs up in the air can be helpful for achieving depth.Rosara Torrisi, PhD, LCSWR, MEd, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Butterfly (18%) – Why does it work?
For deep penetration the closer together your legs and hips are the deeper penetration will feel, so putting feet together on your partner’s shoulders will immediately make something like missionary feel completely different!Jessica Rubinstein, LMFT, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
The butterfly position allows for deep penetration at a very accessible angle.
The woman lays on their back and places their legs on the shoulders of the male partner who is kneeling before them.
This position offers direct access to the vulva and vagina and is optimal for clients who do not feel like they are able to achieve deep penetrative sex.
The use of pillows under the woman’s hips is also helpful. This can be painful if the male has a large penis, as the penis might push against the cervix, which can be painful or pleasurable. For smaller penises, this could create a better angle for pleasure.Heather Huckett, PLLC, MA in Couple and Family Therapy With a Certificate in Sex Therapy
Missionary position gets a bad rap for being vanilla and boring, but it can actually be one of the best positions for really deep penetration with a little modification— legs up on your partner’s shoulders for them to use as leverage.
They’ll have complete control over depth by how far they lean forward, and you’ll have easy access to clitoral stimulation.Brittany Steffen, MS, LMFT, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Cowgirl (10%) – Why does it work?
Cowgirl is the general go-to for this. People with vaginas will be able to spread and angle their bodies in a way that fits just right.Joe Molinari, LCSW, LICSW, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
For deeper penetration it is best to explore with angles, leg position and sometimes a little help from gravity! It is fun to be creative here.
Female on top and variations of which with the elevation of his hips, utilizing gravity such as sitting on a chair (some fun around the house and new surfaces perhaps?) or the more tantric style Om position.
TIP: For your first experiments in new positions, go slow to begin with to check for comfort and use a good lubricant.Karina Mackenzie, Psychosexual and Relationship Therapy, Registered Member of COSRT
Missionary with a wedge/pillow (10%) – Why does it work?
If a couple wants deeper penetration more often, I suggest getting themselves a wedge right away! Wedges seem like just another pillow but they provide the perfect support for deep penetration.
Missionary, behind the body positioning in the vulva or anus, and cunnilingus will all feel deeper right away while using a wedge.
Without a wedge couples can get deeper penetration by playing with a similar idea of higher and lower surfaces; laying over a bed or table OR a partner with a vulva laying on their back with a thick pillow or two below their hips will immediately feel deeper than the same positions without pillows or playing with height.Jessica Rubinstein, LMFT, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
For this scenario I recommend the use of pillows or bolsters as well as playing with different heights to achieve maximum pelvic lift.
Let’s say we have a person who is penetrating (Partner A) and the person who is being penetrated (Partner B). Partner B can have their pelvis lifted by a bolster with a Partner A positioning themselves directly above Partner B. This position works especially well if Partner B is on their back.Nina Hausfeld, LPC, ATR, SCT, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Best Positions for Increasing Clitoral Stimulation
About three quarters of people with vulvas need clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm or say that this enhances their orgasms.
So, if somebody is not orgasming during intercourse, a position that allows for clitoral stimulation can be a game-changer.
Experts voted cowgirl, doggy style, the coital alignment technique, and reverse cowgirl as the best positions for clitoral stimulation (though if intercourse alone is not enough, that’s also normal — enlist your hands, mouth, or a vibrator!).
Cowgirl (29%) – Why does it work?
Whenever a woman is on top, it allows full view and easier access of her clitoris for stimulation.
It also allows the woman to move in a way that offers natural rubbing of the clitoris against her partner’s body, as well as the possibility of using fingers or toys to offer additional stimulation.Alexandria Saunders, Clinical Sexologist, LCPC, LAC
30 minutes of warm-up via a vibrator or oral to the partner with a clitoris. Put that person on top, then you have access to the entire external clitoris.Amanda Pasciucco, LMFT, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Have the woman on top, facing her partner, whose upper body is inclined a bit (think beach lounger, or all the way upright).
Pillows and props come in handy here. Not only does this increase the surface area of stimulated clitoral tissue, it also allows the woman to rock her hips, stimulating her clitoral tissue by pressing against her partner’s pubic bone.Bailey Hank, PsyD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Doggy (16%) – Why does it work?
Allow access to the clitoral tissue for direct stimulation with fingers or a toy.
Penetration from behind, especially when the women’s legs are apart gives an adequate amount of space for her or her partner to provide direct stimulation.Bailey Hank, PsyD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Doggy Style, with the receiving partner on their hands and knees and the giving partner entering from behind, can allow for direct access to the clitoris to be stimulated.Rebbeca Lahann, PsyD, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Doggy style allows plenty of space for one with a clitoris to stimulate themselves.Neeka Wittern, Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Pursuing a Sex Therapy Certification from AASECT
Coital Alignment Technique (10%) – Why does it work?
I recommend the Coital Alignment Technique. In this position, the man’s body is on top of the woman’s but it is pitched forward.
Intercourse in this position involves a rocking rather than a thrusting motion with the lower end of the shaft of the man’s penis rubbing up against the woman’s clitoris.
This provides less stimulation for the man allowing him to better control the intensity of his arousal and also provides the woman with more clitoral stimulation.Bruce Berman, PhD, AASECT Sex Therapist and Sex Therapy Supervisor
Positions that allow for impactful penetration and use angle or pressure in the pubic region to create friction.
A variation on the Missionary position is the Coital Alignment Technique (CAT), which allows persons with a vulva to lie down on their back with a pillow under their hips to allow for more direct contact with the clitoris.Rebbeca Lahann, PsyD, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Coital Alignment Technique Sex Position: this is essentially missionary position, but with the penis owner shifting a bit upward/raising their body so that their penis is a bit downward/grinding into the pubic bone/using their weight to press into the clitoris when entering their partner.Kate Klein, LMHC, Psychotherapist and Sex Therapist
Reverse cowgirl (7%) – Why does it work?
The front-leaning reverse cowgirl, like the traditional cowgirl, allows the vulva owner to control the speed, motions, and depth of penetration.
While doing this the clitoral hood and clitoris will rub against the base of the penis creating clitoral stimulation. This position is sure to drive your partner wild.Cortina Louis, PhD, LMHC – QS, LPC, CSE, AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator
Sex positions that assist with the best clitoral stimulation are the ones where the partner’s hands are free and can reach and massage the clit.
Many of my clients feel they have the best clitoral orgasms when they are on top facing or reverse cowgirl.
They can control the friction and also their partner can give them a hand.Renelle E. Nelson, LMFT, CST, IRC, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Best Positions for Creating Intimacy
Increasing intimacy can help with any of the problems mentioned in this article.
The closer and more connected you feel to your partner, the more uninhibited you will be — and loss of inhibition makes for better sex.
When you want to create intimacy, it is helpful to find a position that allows you to look into each other’s eyes and touch each other.
Here’s how the lotus, missionary, cowgirl, and spooning positions can help you create intimacy, along with some general tips for improving intimacy during sex.
Intimacy during sex is achieved through mutually fulfilling and fun sex, exploring and sharing your own sexual wants and needs is important, as is not falling into the same sexual routine.
I would suggest that intimacy is usually enhanced during sex, regardless of positions and environment is key- being able to see our partner (keep the lights on!).
Eye contact and enjoyment are the key to unlocking intimacy. As is the experience of trying something new or novel such as recreating sexual scenes from films (think the Piano scene in Pretty Woman).
TIP: Fantasy sharing is a great way to increase intimacy.Karina Mackenzie, Psychosexual and Relationship Therapy, Registered Member of COSRT
Lotus (30%) – Why does it work?
Yab Yum (lotus) is the ultimate position for increasing intimacy. The man sits while the woman straddles his hips, while they are facing one another.
With Yab Yum the man cannot thrust too quickly, instead it forces him to slow down, thrusting in sync with his partner all while staring instarting in each other’s eyes.
This position can be difficult to maintain, but with practice, you and your partner can reach new levels of intimacy. YUM!Sarah Sepolio, LMFT-Associate, Sex Therapist
Deep intimacy is achieved through eye contact, being able to whisper to each other, and there is a lot of skin-to-skin contact.John W. Beiter, PhD, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Positions that maintain eye contact or close physical access. The side benefit is these positions often include deep penetration and simulation of the g-spot.
Yab-Yum (lotus) position, where the giving partner sits cross-legged on the floor and the receiving partner sits on top facing them.Rebbeca Lahann, PsyD, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Missionary (29%) – Why does it work?
For couples who want to increase intimacy, being able to maintain eye contact and physical closeness are important. A great way to achieve this is classic missionary.Bailey Hank, PsyD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Missionary or anything face-to-face, and I recommend being verbal (i.e. compliments, saying ‘I love you’).Elana Hoffman, PhD, Clinical Psychologist
The most common position is often the simplest to get started. This position where you are face to face can also lead to increased intimacy as you can gaze into each other’s eyes.Rachel Needle, PsyD, Licensed Psychologist and Certified Sex Therapist
For the best intimacy good old fashion traditional style sex. Really any kind of penetration that encourages good eye contact, being able to hear each other, and nice caresses and cuddles.Renelle E. Nelson, LMFT, CST, IRC, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Cowgirl (13%) – Why does it work?
The best way to increase intimacy is to make eye contact during penetration, or to continue deep kissing during penetration.
Usually this is best achieved either with the woman on top, the man on top, or him sitting up cross legged, while she also sits up, while straddling him.
These three positions allow for both eye contact and deep kissing, which you can alternate throughout the experience.Sara Sloan, LMFT, Sex Therapist
Any position that requires you both to look into each other’s eyes! Watching your partner experience orgasm or pleasure with you is quite an intimate activity.Neeka Wittern, Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Pursuing a Sex Therapy Certification from AASECT
Any face-to-face positions that allow partners to look into each others’ eyes can help enhance intimacy.Alex Tatum, PhD, CST, Licensed clinical psychologist and AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Any position where you are face to face is great. Kissing and eye contact are both sure fire ways to increase connection. Communication around needs and desires is also very helpful.
Please note that these require increased vulnerability and you may need to slowly approach these and work up to varying levels of vulnerability contingent on trust.
This is especially important to consider when you have different attachment styles.Lyndsey Motarefi, PhD, LMFT, Clinical Sexologist
Spooning (7%) – Why does it work?
This position requires you to both lay on your side, facing the same direction, just as you would spoon to cuddle. The partner behind can slowly penetrate the front partner.
There’s something really intimate about a nice spooning cuddle.
Having sex from behind also allows the penetrating partner to wrap their arms around in a loving hug, kiss their partner’s neck, hold hands, or even provide clitoral stimulation with their hand or a toy.Holly Wood, MS, LMFT, Clinical Sexologist
Positions that require full-body contact and eye contact are great for this. Spooning positions or on their sides facing each other can increasing the amount of skin in contact (which increases endorphins) and the eye contact can be vulnerable and trusting in these positions.Victoria M. Beltran, MPH, CHES, CSE, AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator
What else can you do to increase intimacy?
My favorite way of increasing those lovey feelings is starting off with partner massage.
Jojoba oil can be used for almost all skin types without a risk of allergic reaction and is considered to be one of the best moisturizers for the genital area, but of course always look at ingredients before trying.
Massaging each other’s limbs, muscles, and genitals creates relaxation, erotic stimulation, and intimacy.Jessica Rubinstein, LMFT, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
I invite partners to begin moving towards greater intimacy sitting on the couch, or at the kitchen table, over a cup of coffee, and beginning a conversation about what they want for and from their physical relationship.
Knowing what your partner is looking for from the experience, knowing their limits, and knowing how to discuss consent and trusting that your boundaries will be respected, can provide a great deal of intimacy for people in either long term relationships or a casual hook up.Joseph Winn, MSW, LICSW, CST-S, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist and Supervisor of Sex Therapy
Best Positions for Women Who Experience Pain During Sex
About one in 10 women report pain during sex. This often points toward a health condition such as endometriosis or pelvic floor dysfunction, so be sure to talk to a doctor if this is happening to you.
It could also indicate a lack of arousal or psychological difficulties, such as fear that leads to tightening of the vaginal muscles.
However, while someone is getting treatment for these issues, they can also make a point to use positions that minimize pain.
Cowgirl, spooning, and missionary were voted the best options for preventing painful sex.
Cowgirl (47%) – Why does it work?
If experiencing pain during sex it is best for the woman to go on top (cowgirl) as she will have control over how deep the penetration will go.
It is very important that the vulva and vagina are suitably warmed up to prevent further pain or discomfort and adding extra bottled lubrication will help with this too.Becky Crepsley-Fox, MCCP, COSRT Registered Sexologist and Relationship Therapist
I believe the woman being on top would be the best position. This allows her to control the timing and depth of vaginal penetration.Bruce Berman, PhD, AASECT Sex Therapist and Sex Therapy Supervisor
She can be in control, gauge where she feels pain, and adjust as needed.Monifa Ellis-Addie, LMFT, CCPS-C, LMFT, Sexual Health Coach
Women on top if there is pain because they are fully in control.Melissa O’Neill & Erin Lee Kelly Rosetree Center for Healthy Sexuality
Women who experience pain during sex are going to benefit from positions where they have control over the depth and speed of penetration, such as reverse cowgirl. And definitely avoid doggy style — that position tends to be the worst.Brittany Steffen, MS, LMFT, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Spooning (28%) – Why does it work?
This position is great for every question here, but in the realm of painful sex, this position again provides a buffer (thank you butt) and the penetration is less intense or deep due to the position itself.Heather Huckett, PLLC, MA in Couple and Family Therapy With a Certificate in Sex Therapy
Most comfy and butt serves as cushion.Monifa Ellis-Addie, LMFT, CCPS-C, LMFT, Sexual Health Coach
Spooning is great for controlling depth and having some cushion with the buttocks.Joe Molinari, LCSW, LICSW, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Missionary (5%) – Why does it work?
For women who experience pain during penetration, the name of the game is taking it slow and easy, and ensuring she is fully aroused before penetration (so don’t skimp on the foreplay).
Missionary or modified missionary on a pillow are great starting points. However, everybody is different so a version of doggy style or spooning may be easier.
Additionally, adding lubricants are very important and CBD lubes may also help relax the muscles around the vagina. And remember pain shouldn’t be present in sex (unless thats what you are going for), and sex is so much more than penetration so do what you enjoy.Danica Mitchell, LCSW, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Woman placing hands on male’s hips during missionary to control depth.Rickell Park, LMFT-A, Sex Therapist
Passive doggy (2%) – Why does it work?
“Go very slow, use lots of lube and toys. The Intimate Rose Pelvic Wand is also a wonderful resource to help women work on pain during sex on their own, or prior to sex with a partner.
Some positions that can work really well is doggy style where the penetrative partner is advised to just stay hard and stay still. The receptive partner can then allow for penetration at a pace and depth that works for them.
The doggy-style position also prevents incredibly deep penetration due to the positioning of the ass and thighs.David F. Khalili, MA, LMFT, Psychotherapist, Couples Therapist
Other tips for combating pain during sex
Why are you doing sex positions if you experience pain? Do something else that doesn’t cause pain while you simultaneously go to a pelvic floor therapist to work on this.Amanda Pasciucco, LMFT, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Use an OHNUT device from Shh on a partner’s penis. Work with vaginal dilators, fingers, oral. Educate partner and communicate.Karen Aram, PLLC, MA in Couple and Family Therapy With a Certificate in Sex Therapy
NOT doggy. All positions in which she can control the thrusting and speed, so all positions where she’s on top: cowgirl or reverse cowgirl. Also spooning where she can limit the deep penetration.Brooke Bralove, LCSW-C, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
For this, I recommend increasing foreplay! Make sure the woman is ready for penetration, meaning she is physiologically aroused (which does NOT only mean lubricated, though of course that is important too). Use massage, kissing, etc. Sex should not be painful.Elana Hoffman, PhD, Clinical Psychologist
You are now equipped with the information you need to achieve your sexual goals by experimenting with different positions. Go forth and enjoy!
One quick note before you do, though: Our experts also stressed that it’s important not to make sex all about penetration.
Oral sex, manual stimulation, mutual masturbation, use of toys, cyber sex, and many other acts count as sex! So, do not worry if intercourse poses a problem for you.
Switching positions can help, but it also may be helpful to try something else entirely. On that note, here are some parting words from the experts we consulted:
As a parting comment I would add, don’t always make sex about penetration or performance, instead base it on pleasure, fun and intimacy.
Use your imagination to the fullest and let go and just relax.
Sex is not meant to be or has to / should be stressful. It should be about connecting with someone so deeply and intimately that there is no other place or person you would want to be with in that moment.John W. Beiter, PhD, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
The first thing I want to say is this; there are no ‘best sex positions’, per se, for anything.
Best, is subjective, and feeds the heteronormative idea that one size fits all, which, actually creates a sense of performativity and goal focused sexuality that actually undermines the enjoyment of sexuality.
What there are, are positions that allow for more self-awareness, control, and opportunities for people to discuss with their partner, or partners, what they most enjoy in terms of depth, intensity, penetration, intimacy, and self-stimulation.Joseph Winn, MSW, LICSW, CST-S, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist and Supervisor of Sex Therapy
When it comes to maintaining a happy and healthy sex life, I recommend that couples chat with each other to cover their key ‘metrics’ — what’s important to each person when it comes to sex?
Most of the time, they’re going to have different answers, as well as different preferred sexual scenarios.
Making space for each person’s unique sexual needs is the critical take away — being genuinely curious about your partner’s interests, taking turns doing the things you each enjoy, and being GGG — good in bed, giving in bed, and game for what your partner wants to try.Brittany Steffen, MS, LMFT, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
A Special Thank You to the Survey Participants
|Amanda Pasciucco, LMFT, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist||CT||West Hartford|
|Alex Tatum, PhD, CST, Licensed clinical psychologist and AASECT Certified Sex Therapist||IL||Chicago|
|Alexandria Saunders, Clinical Sexologist, LCPC, LAC||MT||Livingston|
|Ashley Grubbs, Licensed Professional Counselor, Sex Therapist||VA||Newport News|
|Bailey Hank, PsyD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist||MA||Cambridge|
|Becky Crepsley Fox, MCCP, COSRT Registered Sexologist and Relationship Therapist||United Kingdom||Brighton|
|Beth Bloomfield-Fox, LPC, LMHC||WA||Camas|
|Brittany Steffen, MS, LMFT, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist||WA||Seattle|
|Brooke Bralove, LCSW-C, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist||MD||Bethesda|
|Bruce Berman, PhD, AASECT Sex Therapist and Sex Therapy Supervisor||NY||New York|
|Chamin Ajjan, LCSW, A-CBT, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist||NY||Brooklyn Heights|
|Cortina Louis, PhD, LMHC – QS, LPC, CSE, AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator||FL||Winter Park|
|Danica Mitchell, LCSW, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist||NY||New York|
|David F. Khalili, MA, LMFT, Psychotherapist, Couples Therapist||CA||San Francisco|
|Elana Hoffman, PhD, Clinical Psychologist||MD||Rockville|
|Erin Lee Kelly, PhD Clinical Psychotherapist and Educator Specializing in Sexuality||PA||Media|
|Genevieve Gellert, MSW, LCSW, RYT, Psychotherapist and Sexologist||NJ & PA||Online only|
|Heather Huckett, PLLC, MA in Couple and Family Therapy With a Certificate in Sex Therapy||WA||Bainbridge Island|
|Holly Wood, MS, LMFT, Clinical Sexologist||CA||Online only|
|Jessica Rubinstein, LMFT, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist||WA||Seattle|
|Joe Molinari, LCSW, LICSW, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist||MN||Minneapolis|
|John W. Beiter, PhD, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist||MI||Troy|
|Joseph Winn, MSW, LICSW, CST-S, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist and Supervisor of Sex Therapy||MA||Concord|
|Juliane Maxwald, Licensed Psychoanalyst and Sex Therapist||NY||New York|
|Karen Aram, PLLC, MA in Couple and Family Therapy With a Certificate in Sex Therapy||United Kingdom||North London|
|Karen Bieniek, MA, LCMHC, Sex Therapist||NC||Cary|
|Karina Mackenzie, Psychosexual and Relationship Therapy, Registered Member of COSRT||United Kingdom||Essex|
|Kate Klein, LMHC, Psychotherapist and Sex Therapist||NY||Brooklyn|
|Kelvin Pace, LPC, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapists||AK||Anchorage|
|Lyndsey Motarefi, PhD, LMFT, Clinical Sexologist||CA||Los Angeles|
|Maddie Sheffer, MS, MMFT, AMFT, Sex Therapy Sex Educator||CA||Beverly Hills|
|Melissa O’Neill-Dobosz, MS, LPC, ACS, CCSOT, Clinically Certified Sex Offender Therapist||PA||Media|
|Monifa Ellis-Addie, LMFT, CCPS-C, LMFT, Sexual Health Coach||CA||Studio City|
|Neeka Wittern, Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Pursuing a Sex Therapy Certification from AASECT||NV||Las Vegas|
|Nina Hausfeld, LPC, ATR, SCT, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist||CO||Boulder|
|Rachel Needle, PsyD, Licensed Psychologist and Certified Sex Therapist||FL||West Palm Beach|
|Rebbeca Lahann, PsyD, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist||AZ||Gilbert|
|Renea Hunter, LPC-S, Sex Therapist||TX||Irvin|
|Renelle E. Nelson, LMFT, CST, IRC, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist||AZ||Chandler|
|Rickell Park, LMFT-A, Sex Therapist||SC||Greenville|
|Rosara Torrisi, PhD, LCSWR, MEd, CST, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist||NY||Syosset|
|Sara Sloan, LMFT, Sex Therapist||TX||Austin|
|Sarah Sepolio, LMFT-Associate, Sex Therapist||TX||Houston|
|Victoria M. Beltran, MPH, CHES, CSE, AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator||FL||Petersburg|
Our survey included 43 sex therapists, sex educators, psychotherapists, and other sexuality professionals in the U.S. and U.K.
For this survey, each expert we consulted recommended up to three sex positions for each sexual issue or goal. Each vote was counted once.
Experts did not have to recommend any positions if they did not feel there were any that would be helpful to many people dealing with the issue.
It should be noted that there are several possible limitations to the data provided herein:
- This survey data was captured at a specific point in time within a specific culture and may not be true across times and places.
- Statistical analyses were not performed on this data, meaning that our findings are not necessarily statistically significant.
Despite all of this, we believe that our data provide an important insight into the use of sexual positions for the enhancement of sexual enjoyment.
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