List of sex positions

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This is a list of sex positions. This includes common and not so common positions for sexual intercourse and other sexual activities between people. This is a list of usual modes, particulars, and features in which couples physically position themselves for sexual intercourse. Some sexual positions are variations on fundamental positions, while some are more innovative.



Note that the sex positions listed are descriptive, not prescriptive. Real sex between experienced partners usually shifts from position to position during a single session, at the whim of those involved.

In the Indian Kama Sutra and Arabic Perfumed Garden, the act and manner of sex was an art-form. In the Khajuraho statues, it has religious meaning. The Joy of Sex was one of the first widely accepted modern sex manuals to describe sexual positions.

In the Kama Sutra, sixty-four sex positions are explained as arts. These may be considered yoga positions for a couple. Tantric yoga, as applied to couples is sometimes called the yoga of union and is the larger spiritual context for these positions.

There are also a vast number of positions for oral sex (including cunnilingus and fellatio) and mutual masturbation, which are too numerous to list here.

While not all of these positions will necessarily be as stimulating or as satisfying for both partners as other positions, a couple may develop a rotation among these positions. Some may be more physically difficult or tiring for one partner, while others offer a break or resting point that will maintain a particular level of passion. In a sense, a set rotation though favored positions may be likened to a complex and progressive musical piece, such as a sonata or symphony. An alternation of positions favored by each partner can be particularly delightful when understood in the larger give-and-take common in interpersonal relationships. Each couple may in this way develop their unique "song of love". The musical symphonic work Bolero, written by Maurice Ravel, is thought by many to be intentionally evocative of the progression of caressing, positions, intensities, and satisfactions of lovemaking. Note that the piece is about 22 minutes long - thought by many men to be rather long for this use and by many women to be too short.

Since the most common sexual activity worldwide is heterosexual vaginal intercourse, the positions listed are described in terms of one male participant and one vaginally receptive female participant. However, most of these positions can also be adapted as anal sex positions, although some with difficulty due to the different angle of rectal vs. vaginal entry. Similar provisions apply for frottage, tribadism, the use of double-ended dildos or strap-on dildos, and so on.

Warning: this is not a how-to guide.


There is no single agreed standard for nomenclature of sex positions. The medical literature tends to use very general terms such as "male superior sex position" and "female superior sex position", or Latin terms such as coitus more ferarum ("intercourse in the manner of a beast"). The terms used in sex manuals are often fanciful, and differ from manual to manual. The jargon of the pornography industry for sex positions has entered the mainstream vocabulary in some cases, and has at least the benefit of being specific.

The terms used here draw on all of these sources. Where possible, the most commonly used term is used.


These are the most widely known positions, and are widespread and prevalent during the act of sex. Some of these positions can be used in sex between two men or two women.

Genital Sex


The missionary position

Deckchair position

Missionary – most common position; man on top with direct penetration; woman on bottom, legs open.

Side entry missionary – variant on the missionary position; woman on side; man kneeling penetrates from behind.

Squashing of the deckchair – woman on bottom, legs pulled up; man on top, holds woman's legs.

Peace Sign – woman on bottom, legs tightly closed.

Butterfly position – woman lies on her back, man stands and lifts her pelvis for penetration

From Behind

Doggy – man penetrates from behind; woman on all fours, facing down.

Upright doggy – variant on the doggy position; woman kneels, man stands upright upright.

Spread-eagle – woman lies facing down, legs spread open; man on top.

Spoons – side by side, both facing in same direction; man penetrates from behind.

Woman on top

The Cowgirl position

Cowgirl – The man lies on his back; the woman sits on top of him facing him; also known as Woman-On-Top or Amazon.

Positions during pregnancy

The goal is to prevent excessive pressure on the belly and to restrict penetration as required by the particular male partner.

Some of the positions below are popular positions for sex during pregnancy.

Non-penetration or low-penetration sex

Oral Sex

69 position
  • 69 sex position – simultaneous oral sex; often side-by-side, or either a man or woman can be on top; known as 'Congress of the Crow' in the Kama Sutra.

Same-sex activities

As mentioned earlier, women can engage in tribadism with or without double-ended dildos and men can engage in penis-to-penis frottage, the anatomical pairings involved enable positions which heterosexual couples might find difficult or impossible. Mutual masturbation can also be differently choreographed for homosexuality, for instance a man can stimulate his and a partner's (or multiple partners') penises simultaneously with only one hand.

The following activities are only possible between partners of the same sex:

  • tribadism: rubbing of female genitalia against female genitalia
  • "frot": rubbing of male genitalia against male genitalia

Use of special apparatus

Most sex acts are typically performed on a bed or other platform. As the range of supports available increases, the range of positions that are possible increases (for example, see the sitting and standing positions above).

Various forms of apparatus such as fisting slings and trapezes have been used to facilitate even more exotic sexual positions.

Group sex

Various assemblages of people may participate in group sex, having the common characteristic structure of participating in a sexual act.

See also


  • Hooper, Anne J., "Sexopedia". DK Publishing; 1st American ed., Dec. 1, 2002 ISBN 0789489589 272 pages
  • Hooper, Anne J., "Anne Hooper's Kama Sutra". DK Publishing. 1st ed., January 1, 1998. ISBN 1564586499 160 pages
  • McMeel, Andrews and Lisa Sussman. "Sex Positions". October, 28 2002 ISBN 184222266X
  • Bodansky, Steve and Vera Bodansky "The Illustrated Guide to Extended Massive Orgasm". Hunter House. 1st ed., June 2002. ISBN 0897933621 235 pages
  • Kemper, Alfred M. "Love Couches Design Criteria", 1972, Los Angeles. Library of Congress #75-36170. 101 pages. Design criteria for assistive furniture, with sections on accommodation of disabled persons.

External links and references

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