Sex position

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A sex position is a position of the body that people use for sexual intercourse or other sexual activities. Sexual acts are generally described by the positions the participants adopt in order to perform those acts. Though sexual intercourse generally involves penetration of the body of one person by another, sex positions commonly involve penetrative or non-penetrative sexual activities.

Contents

Three categories of sexual intercourse are commonly practiced: vaginal intercourse (involving vaginal penetration), anal penetration, and oral sex (especially mouth-on-genital stimulation). [1] Sex acts may also involve other forms of genital stimulation, such as solo or mutual masturbation, which may involve rubbing or penetration by the use of fingers or hands or by a device (sex toy), such as a dildo or vibrator. The act may also involve anilingus. There are numerous sex positions that participants may adopt in any of these types of sexual intercourse or acts; some authors have argued that the number of sex positions is essentially limitless.

History

A love scene sculpture from the Sunga period (c. 1st century BCE) SungaLoveScene.jpg
A love scene sculpture from the Sunga period (c. 1st century BCE)

Sex manuals usually present a guide to sex positions. Sex manuals have a long history. In the Graeco-Roman era, a sex manual was written by Philaenis of Samos, possibly a hetaira (courtesan) of the Hellenistic period (3rd–1st century BC). [2] The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana, believed to have been written in the 1st to 6th centuries, has a notorious reputation as a sex manual. Different sex positions result in differences in the depth of sexual penetration and the angle of penetration. Many attempts have been made to categorize sex positions. Alfred Kinsey categorized six primary positions, [3] The earliest known European medieval text dedicated to sexual positions is the Speculum al foderi , sometimes known as "The Mirror of Coitus" (or literally[ according to whom? ] "a mirror for fuckers"), a 15th-century Catalan text discovered in the 1970s. [4] [5]

Exclusively penetrative

These positions involve the insertion of a phallic object(s) (such as a penis, strap-on dildo, plug, or other nonporous object(s)) into a vagina, anus or mouth.

Missionary, the most commonly used sex position Wiki-missionary.png
Missionary, the most commonly used sex position
Tondo of an Attic red-figure kylix by the Triptolemos painter, c. 470 BC, Tarquinia National Museum Sexual scene at a red-figure tondo of a kylix at the Museo nazionale (Tarquinia).jpg
Tondo of an Attic red-figure kylix by the Triptolemos painter, c. 470 BC, Tarquinia National Museum
A rear-penetration position, commonly referred to as 'doggy style'. The receiving partner can be penetrated either vaginally or anally. Wiki-dstyle.png
A rear-penetration position, commonly referred to as 'doggy style'. The receiving partner can be penetrated either vaginally or anally.

Penetrating partner on top with front entry

The most used sex position is the missionary position. In this position, the participants face each other. The receiving partner lies on their back with legs apart, while the penetrating partner lies on top. This position and the following variations may be used for vaginal or anal intercourse.

Penetrating from behind

1st-century AD depiction of 'spooning' Warren Cup BM GR 1999.4-26.1 n1.jpg
1st-century AD depiction of 'spooning'

Most of these positions can be used for either vaginal or anal penetration. Variants of the doggy style or doggy position include:

In the spoons position both partners lie on their side, facing the same direction. [13] Variants of this technique include the following:

Woman on top position in the Kama Sutra Kama sutra 24 detail.jpg
Woman on top position in the Kama Sutra

Receiving partner on top

The 'cowgirl' position Wiki-cowgirl.png
The 'cowgirl' position

Most of these positions can be used for either vaginal or anal penetration. When the receiving partner is a woman, these positions are sometimes called the woman on top, or cowgirl positions.

A feature of these positions is that the penetrating partner lies on their back with the receiving partner on top:

A couple performing sexual intercourse from a seated position Wiki-sitting-sp.png
A couple performing sexual intercourse from a seated position

Sitting and kneeling

Most of these positions can be used for either vaginal or anal penetration.

One partner stands while holding up the other without a support Wiki-standing.png
One partner stands while holding up the other without a support

Standing

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:

Anal sex positions

19th century depiction of anal penetration; detail of a painting by Paul Avril Edouard-Henri Avril anal sex detail.jpg
19th century depiction of anal penetration; detail of a painting by Paul Avril

These positions involve anal penetration:

Less common positions

The T-square position Wiki-T-square.png
The T-square position

These positions are more innovative, and perhaps not as widely known or practiced as the ones listed above.

Others

  • The receiving partner is on the 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 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 is sometimes called the scissors position . 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 lies 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.

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 any form of sexual activity where sperm comes in contact with the vagina; this is typically during vaginal sex, but pregnancy can result from anal sex, digital sex (fingering), oral sex, or by another body part, if sperm is transferred from one area to the vagina between a fertile female and a fertile male. Men and women are typically fertile during puberty. Though certain sexual positions are believed to produce more favorable results than others, none of these are effective means of contraception.

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. [21]

Non-exclusively penetrative

Oral sex positions

Oral sex is genital stimulation by the mouth. It may be penetrative or non-penetrative, and may take place before, during, as, or following intercourse. It may also be performed simultaneously (for example, when one partner performs cunnilingus, while the other partner performs fellatio), or only one partner may perform upon the other; this creates a multitude of variations. [22]

Fellatio

Modern drawing of fellatio Wiki-fellatio02.png
Modern drawing of fellatio

Fellatio is oral sex performed on a penis. Possible positions include:

  • Sitting
    • The receiver lies on his back while the partner kneels between his legs.
    • The receiver lies on his back while the partner lies off to the side of their legs.
    • The receiver sits in a chair the partner kneels in front of them between their legs.
  • Standing
    • The receiver stands while the partner either kneels in front of them or sits (in a chair or on the edge of a bed, etc.) and bends forward.
    • The receiver stands while the partner, also standing, bends forward at the waist.
    • The receiver 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 receiver inserts their penis into the partner's mouth, usually to achieve deep throat penetration.
  • Lying
    • While the active partner lies on their back, the receiver assumes the missionary position but adjusted forward.
    • The active partner (with breasts) lies on their back, and the receiver inserts their penis between the breasts, and into the mouth.

Cunnilingus

19th-century depiction of cunnilingus (detail) by Paul Avril Detail of Edouard-Henri Avril (23).jpg
19th-century depiction of cunnilingus (detail) by Paul Avril

Cunnilingus is oral sex performed on the vulva and vagina. Possible positions include:

  • The receiver lies on her back as in the missionary position. The active partner lies on their front between their legs.
  • The active partner sits. The receiver stands facing away and bends at the hips.
  • The active partner sits. The receiver stands or squats facing towards partner and may arch her back, to create further stimulation.
  • The active partner lies on their back while the receiver kneels with their legs at their sides and their genitals on their mouth. In other words, the receiver sits on the face of her partner.
  • The receiver rests on all fours as in the doggy style position. The partner lies on their back with his head under their genitalia. Their feet may commonly extend off the bed and rest on the floor.
  • The receiver services their own genitals. Although rarer, some people still find this possible[ citation needed ]; see autofellatio.
  • The receiver stands, possibly bracing themself against a wall. The active partner kneels in front of them.
  • The receiver sits on the bed with her their open, the active partner kneels in front of them.
  • The receiver is upside-down (standing on hands, held by partner, or using support, such as bondage or furniture), with the active partner standing or kneeling (depending on elevation) in front or behind. Such a position may be difficult to achieve, or maintain for extended time periods, but the rush of blood to the brain can alter stimulation's effect.
  • The receiver stands on hands, resting each leg on either side of the active partner's head, with the active partner standing or kneeling facing them. Depending on which way up the receiver is facing, different stimulation and levels of comfort may be available.

Sixty-nine

The 69 position Wiki-sixtynine.png
The 69 position

Simultaneous oral sex between two people is called 69 . Partners may be female or male. They can lie side-by-side, lie one on top of the other, or stand with one partner holding the other upside down.

Anilingus

Woman performing anilingus on another woman Wiki-analoral.svg
Woman performing anilingus on another woman

Positions for anilingus , also known as butt licking, rimming, anal-oral sex, rimjob, or tossing the salad, are often variants on those for genital-oral sex. Anilingus can be performed in a number of sex positions including:

  • The passive partner is on all fours in the doggy position with the active partner behind.
  • The passive partner is on their back in the missionary position with their legs up.
  • The passive partner on top in the 69 position. [23] [24]
  • The rusty trombone , in which a male stands while the active partner performs both anilingus from behind, generally from a kneeling position, and also performs masturbation on the standing partner, thus somewhat resembling someone playing the trombone. [25]

Other positions

Non-penetrative

Drawing by Franz von Bayros showing an act of fingering Franz von Bayros 003.jpg
Drawing by Franz von Bayros showing an act of fingering

Non-penetrative sex or frottage is generally sexual activity that excludes penetration, and often includes rubbing one's genitals on one's sexual partner. This may include the partner's genitals or buttocks, and can involve different sex positions. As part of foreplay or to avoid penetrative sex, people engage in a variety of non-penetrative sexual behavior, which may or may not lead to orgasm.

The slang term humping may refer to masturbation—thrusting one's genitals against the surface of non-sexual objects, clothed or unclothed; or it may refer to penetrative sex.

Genital-genital rubbing

Genital-genital rubbing (often termed GG rubbing by primatologists to describe the behavior among female bonobos [32] [33] ) is the sexual act of mutually rubbing genitals; it is sometimes grouped with frottage, but other terms, such as non-penetrative sex or outercourse, are also used:

Group sex

Depiction of a 'spit roast' on the rim of an Attic red-figure kylix, c. 510 BC Erotic scenes Louvre G13 n1.jpg
Depiction of a 'spit roast' on the rim of an Attic red-figure kylix, c. 510 BC
19th-century depiction of a "sandwich" by Paul Avril Edouard-Henri Avril (29).jpg
19th-century depiction of a "sandwich" by Paul Avril
A double penetration Wiki-doublepen.png
A double penetration
2 bisexual men and 2 bisexual women ringed in a circular group sex foursome performing 4 combinations of oral sex: M-F, F-F, F-M, M-M. Fourgy Inked Colour.png
2 bisexual men and 2 bisexual women ringed in a circular group sex foursome performing 4 combinations of oral sex: M-F, F-F, F-M, M-M.

Various people of gender and orientation 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. [34]

As with the positions listed above, more group sex positions become practical if erotic furniture is used.

Threesomes

When three people have sex with each other, it is called a threesome. Possible ways of having all partners in sexual contact with each include some of the following:

Foursomes

With many participants

These positions can be expanded to accommodate any number of participants:

Multiple penetration

A person may be sexually penetrated multiple times simultaneously. Penetration may involve use of fingers, toes, sex toys, or penises. Scenes of multiple penetration are common in pornography.

If one person is penetrated by two objects, it is generically called double penetration (DP). [43] Double penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth can involve:

Number of positions, and effects on physical abilities

In 1974, Alex Comfort categorized more than 600 [45] and Gershon Legman categorized 3,780. [46] However, the suggestion that the number of positions that can be used for sex is essentially limitless also exists. [47]

Some people are limited by physical disabilities in the sex positions which they may use without pain or other discomfort. Other physical limitations of one or both participants also limit the sex positions which they may adopt. For example, the spoons position is recommended when either partner has back problems; the starfish position is recommended to achieve orgasms more easily and the missionary position may be uncomfortable for the receiving partner if the weight of the inserting partner, relative to the receiving partner's, is a problem. Also, the standing positions may be unsuitable if there is a significant height difference between the participants, unless the female is being carried.

Related Research Articles

Anal sex Insertion of the penis into the anus, or other sexual activity involving the anus

Anal sex or anal intercourse is generally the insertion and thrusting of the erect penis into a person's anus, or anus and rectum, for sexual pleasure. Other forms of anal sex include fingering, the use of sex toys for anal penetration, oral sex performed on the anus (anilingus), and pegging. Although anal sex most commonly means penile–anal penetration, sources sometimes use anal intercourse to exclusively denote penile–anal penetration, and anal sex to denote any form of anal sexual activity, especially between pairings as opposed to anal masturbation.

Orgasm is the sudden discharge of accumulated sexual excitement during the sexual response cycle, resulting in rhythmic muscular contractions in the pelvic region characterized by sexual pleasure. Experienced by males and females, orgasms are controlled by the involuntary or autonomic nervous system. They are usually associated with involuntary actions, including muscular spasms in multiple areas of the body, a general euphoric sensation and, frequently, body movements and vocalizations. The period after orgasm is typically a relaxing experience, attributed to the release of the neurohormones oxytocin and prolactin as well as endorphins.

Sexual intercourse Copulation for reproduction or sexual pleasure, or other penetrative sex acts for sexual pleasure.

Sexual intercourse is sexual activity typically involving the insertion and thrusting of the penis into the vagina for sexual pleasure, reproduction, or both. This is also known as vaginal intercourse or vaginal sex. Other forms of penetrative sexual intercourse include anal sex, oral sex, fingering, and penetration by use of a dildo. These activities involve physical intimacy between two or more individuals and are usually used among humans solely for physical or emotional pleasure and can contribute to human bonding.

Missionary position

The missionary position or man-on-top position is a sex position in which, generally, a woman lies on her back and a man lies on top of her while they face each other and engage in vaginal intercourse. The position may also be used for other sexual activity, such as anal sex. It is commonly associated with heterosexual sexual activity, but is also used by same-sex couples.

Woman on top Sex position in which a woman is on top of another person

Woman on top is any sex position in which the woman is on top of her sexual partner during sexual activity. The position most commonly associated with the woman on top is often called the cowgirl or riding position, which derives its name from the image of the woman "riding" the man as a cowgirl rides a bucking horse. In that position, a man typically lies on his back with his legs closed, while the female partner straddles him, usually in a kneeling position facing either forward or back, and either the man or woman inserts the man's erect penis into the woman's vagina or anus. The cowgirl position is commonly cited as one of the more popular sex positions, especially by women, because it gives them control over the rhythm and pace of vaginal stimulation and the extent and duration of penetration and because of its ability to adequately stimulate the clitoris. There are other positions in which the woman may be on top, including the 69 position and the pompoir sex position.

Doggy style Sex position

Doggy style is a sex position in which a person bends over, crouches on all fours, or lies on their abdomen, for sexual intercourse, other forms of sexual penetration or other sexual activity. Doggy style is a form of a rear-entry position, others being with the receiving partner lying on the side in the spoons sex position or the reverse cowgirl sex position. Non-penetrative sex in this position may also be regarded as doggy style.

Sexual penetration Sexual activity that involves inserting a persons body part into another person

Sexual penetration is the insertion of a body part or other object into a body orifice, such as the vagina, anus or mouth, as part of human sexual activity or animal sexual behavior.

Mammary intercourse Sex position in which a penis is stimulated by contact with female breasts and vice versa

Mammary intercourse is a sex act, performed as either foreplay or as non-penetrative sex, that involves the stimulation of a man's penis by a woman's breasts and vice versa. It involves placing the penis between a woman's breasts and moving the penis up and down to simulate sexual penetration and to create sexual pleasure. It may be used as an alternative to a handjob.

Fingering (sexual act) The use of fingers to sexually stimulate

Fingering is typically the use of fingers or hands to sexually stimulate the vulva or vagina. Vaginal fingering is legally and medically called digital penetration or digital penetration of the vagina. Fingering may also include the use of fingers to sexually stimulate the anus.

Strap-on dildo Device used for sexual penetration or other sexual activity

A strap-on dildo is a dildo designed to be worn, usually with a harness, during sexual activity. Harnesses and dildos are made in a wide variety of styles, with variations in how the harness fits the wearer, how the dildo attaches to the harness, as well as various features intended to facilitate stimulation of the wearer or a sexual partner. Strap-on dildos can be used by people of any gender or sexuality.

G-spot vibrator

A G-spot vibrator is a sex toy with female and male varieties. The female version of the device is built to massage the G-spot, described as a bean-shaped area of the vagina. Some women report that it is an erogenous zone which, when stimulated, can lead to strong sexual arousal, powerful orgasms and female ejaculation. The male version of the G-spot vibrator is used for massaging the prostate for both sexual and health-related reasons.

A double penetration dildo or double dildo is a sex toy that allows for the simultaneous penetration of two bodily orifices at the same time. It is designed in the form of two penetrative stimulators that come separately or fixed on the single shaft. Some of them include a vibrating motor that turns them into double penetration vibrators.

Top, bottom and versatile Positions during sexual activity

In human sexuality, top, bottom, and versatile are sex positions or roles during sexual activity, especially between two men. A top is usually a person who penetrates, a bottom is usually one who receives penetration, and someone who is versatile engages in either or both roles. These terms may be elements of self-identity that indicate an individual's usual preference and habits, but might also describe broader sexual identities and social roles.

Non-penetrative sex Sexual activity that usually does not include sexual penetration

Non-penetrative sex or outercourse is sexual activity that usually does not include sexual penetration. It generally excludes the penetrative aspects of vaginal, anal, or oral sexual activity, but includes various forms of sexual and non-sexual activity, such as frottage, mutual masturbation, kissing, or cuddling. Some forms of non-penetrative sex, particularly when termed outercourse, include penetrative aspects, such as penetration that may result from forms of fingering or oral sex.

Lesbian sexual practices Sexual practices between women

Lesbian sexual practices are sexual activities involving women who have sex with women, regardless of their sexual orientation. A woman who has sex with another woman may identify as a lesbian if she is sexually attracted to women, or bisexual if she is not exclusively sexually attracted to women, or dispense with sexual identification altogether. The term may also be applied to a heterosexual or asexual woman who is unsure of or is exploring her sexuality.

Spoons sex position Sex position resembling spoons that may be positioned side by side, with bowls aligned

The spoons position or spooning is both a sexual position and a cuddling technique. The name derives from the way that two spoons may be positioned side by side, with bowls aligned. The sexual spoons position is a form of a rear-entry position, the other being the doggy style position. The spoons sex position has been called one of the "basic four" sex positions.

Handjob

A handjob is a sex act, performed as either foreplay or as non-penetrative sex, that involves the manual stimulation of a man's penis or scrotum by another person to induce an erection for sexual pleasure, sexual arousal and sometimes resulting in orgasm and ejaculation.

Cunnilingus Oral sex on the vulva or vagina by a sexual partner

Cunnilingus is an oral sex act performed by a person on the vulva or vagina of another person. The clitoris is the most sexually sensitive part of the human female genitalia, and its stimulation may result in a woman becoming sexually aroused or achieving orgasm.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to human sexuality:

Kunyaza is the Rwanda-Rundi name given to a sexual practice found in the Great Lakes region of East Africa which is meant to facilitate female orgasm and female ejaculation during intercourse.

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Further reading

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Modern

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