When one ventures into sexual activity, it can be daunting to hear about things like the Kama Sutra and tantric sex. In reality, the basic sexual positions have a lot of advantages — otherwise, so many people wouldn’t rely on them so much. While there’s no “right way” to have sex, a little information can help you understand the pros and cons of the most common sexual positions.

The missionary position

The missionary position is no more than the male-superior position; that is, the man on top, the woman on the bottom.


Advantages of the missionary position include:

  • It is pretty much unique to humans, and therefore differentiates us from animals.

  • It puts partners face-to-face during sex.

  • You can remain under the covers and still enjoy intercourse.

  • Some men prefer the more aggressive “on-top” position.

Drawbacks of the missionary position include:

  • The penis may not provide sufficient stimulation to the clitoris for many women to reach orgasm. Additionally, the man is resting on his arms and cannot use his hands for additional clitoral stimulation. (If this is a problem, the woman may want to consider providing that additional stimulation herself.)

  • The woman’s range of motion is quite limited in the missionary position, other than to thrust upward in time with her partner.

  • If the act of intercourse goes on too long, or if the man is tired or weak for some other reason, the missionary position can be uncomfortable.

  • Research has shown that if a man is tensing his muscles, as he must do to hold himself up, it affects his ability to control ejaculation, so the missionary position can aggravate problems of premature ejaculation.

You can vary the missionary position through the woman’s knee position and through the man’s angle (i.e., in a more upright position). Partners may also choose to have the woman lie back on a flat surface while the man stands, which allows for more arm movement by the male.

The female-superior position (woman on top)

The female-superior position is essentially the opposite of the missionary position: the woman on top, the man on the bottom. This has become a more common choice in the last decade or two.


The female-superior position offers several major advantages:

  • The man can caress the woman’s clitoris with his fingers.

  • The man can both see and fondle the woman’s breasts.

  • Men also report being able to “last” longer in the female-superior position.

  • The woman can control the depth of penetration and speed of thrust, which can be very helpful in bringing her to a fulfilling orgasm.

Disadvantages of this position include:

  • It is more tiring to the woman, especially if it takes a while for her to orgasm.

  • Women are more likely to give in to “spectatoring” rather than enjoying the experience while in this position.

  • The man must have a strong erection for this to work. For some men, this may mean limiting this position to the morning.

You can vary the female-superior position by having the woman face backward, or even change partway through. She also can lie back with her head at the man’s feet, so that she does not have to support her entire weight.

No single position is more moral or normal than another is. If you enjoy one position, that’s great. If not, then try something else.