Missionary Sex Position – New and Improved

Man and Woman's legs covered with pillows

Real talk. When you hear the phrase “missionary sex position,” what do you think? 

Do you feel at home in this position, relishing all the eye contact and intimacy? Or is it more like, “snooooooze. Wake me up for doggy style.”

If you’re the latter, you’re not alone. In a 2021 survey spearheaded by Bespoke Surgical and Dr. Evan Goldstein (past guest on Sex With Emily, talking anal), only 21% of gay and lesbian respondents, and 27% of heterosexual respondents, said that missionary turns them on the most. (Btw, for straight respondents, doggy style was the clear winner).

But let’s not assume missionary sex has to be vanilla, or passive for the receiving partner, or whatever less-than-thrilling connotation you associate with it. When we make missionary intentional, it’s one of the most versatile sex positions out there: the little black dress of sex, if you will.

So let me tell you all the reasons I personally love the missionary sex position, then give you three solid strategies to make it more surprising and hot. Because just like an LBD (little black dress), it’s all about the execution.  

What is missionary, and why am I into it?

Let’s talk basics. Missionary is the sex position you probably see depicted most often in pop culture, with the penetrating partner on top, receiving partner on bottom, and both are facing each other. So far, so good.

Now, I’m a big missionary defender because I see it as the starting point for any number of erotic variations. You’ve got: 

  • skin-to-skin contact
  • the ability to gaze into each other’s eyes 
  • the option to make out while it’s happening

Fun, right? The problems start when missionary becomes rote or automatic, leading us to check out during sex or repeat the exact same behaviors every time: someone’s lying down, someone’s thrusting, thrusting partner gets off, the end. Sound familiar?

But listen, it doesn’t have to be this way! If we take a more creative route to pleasure, you can use missionary to:

  • introduce toys into sex, like vibrators or penis rings
  • use kink props, like restraints or a leg spreader bar
  • play with angles: the penetrating partner can stand on the edge of the bed, and line up their pelvis with the receiving partner, who’s lying on the bed on their back (great option for smaller penises and deep penetration, by the way)

As you can see, there’s a lot we can play with in missionary. But I think part of the problem is one of expectations: as much as I love porn, we often see penetration depicted in completely unrealistic ways, where as soon as it happens the receiving partner has a screaming orgasm. Um…no, that’s not how it goes down in real life, folks. 

On that note, let’s address the three top misconceptions for missionary position, and offer hacks to help you love it. 

MISCONCEPTION #1: It’s boring

For all the reasons we mentioned above, this association is totally understandable. But vulva owners: have you ever tried CAT to spice it up?

Also known as coital alignment technique, CAT involves the penetrating partner scooting up higher than usual over the receiver, with their upper body slightly angled. From there, you want to align your pelvises so that a vulva owner can press their clitoris on the base of the penis. The motion during this position is not in-and-out (what we typically think of with missionary), but more of a rocking motion that hits all the nerve endings in the vulva owner’s clitoris and pubic mound. 

And penetrating partners: because you’ve got so much control here, don’t forget that the biggest sex organ in our body is the brain – so while you’re looking down on your partner, try weaving in a little dirty talk. Need pointers? I’ve got some right here.

MISCONCEPTION #2: It’s not kinky

Friends, I hear you on this one! But I hope you’ll hear me when I say: we can take any sexual behavior on the planet, and wrap it in erotic packaging. As my dear friend Ian Kerner says, “one should not make more assumptions than are absolutely necessary,” and that definitely applies to our old friend missionary. 

So how do we bring the primal energy of, say, doggy style into this one? It’s all about being exploratory. Here are some tips:

  • try a couple’s toy like the We-Vibe Chorus, a wearable vibrator than can be used during penetrative partner sex
  • have a convo outside the bedroom about the energetic vibe you’d like to create during missionary, and during sex, in general,
  • ask each other about your fantasies. You could initiate things by saying, “I’ve adopted a growth mindset around sex, and I’d absolutely love to hear what your sexual fantasies are…I’ll share some of mine, too.”

If, for example, you crave being dominated, try showing that to your partner: gripping their hips, bringing a lil’ roughness, growling in their ear. Sometimes, making the exploration experiential goes much, much further than a verbal request, as not everyone knows what it means to “be more dominating.” Through demonstration, you can offer your partner a clear picture of what you want. 

MISCONCEPTION #3: Missionary = no orgasms for vulva owners

Yup, I get this one a lot too! We’ve talked about CAT technique to help problem-solve this one; now, let’s talk about G-Spot orgasms.

Only 30% of vulva owners have an orgasm through penetration, making it easy to see why vulva owners would be like, “thank u, next” to missionary. The rest of us need stimulation elsewhere before we could even approach that possibility, so let’s talk about how to get that stimulation. 

For this show, I heard from a listener who loves her Magic Wand, and has started to incorporate it into partnered sex (yay!) – but, sometimes, it can be a little cumbersome. That particular problem has an easy fix: the Magic Wand Mini (available here), which delivers all the “magic” in a smaller package. But my larger point is this: once vulva owners have a clitoral orgasm, via toys, oral, etc. it’s much easier to have an internal, G-Spot orgasm because the tissues are already engorged with blood.

So before you even think about penetration, think about getting ample clitoral stimulation first. Remember: on porn, we aren’t always seeing the warm up that happened prior to the money shot: the lube, the toys, the oral, etc. If pleasure is our top goal here (even over orgasm!), communicate with your partner about all the ways they could tease, stimulate, and seduce your clitoris before diving right in. (PS – if you wanna learn more about G-Spot orgasms and squirting, listen to my convo with the expert, Deborah Sundahl).

I hope these ideas help you see missionary in a new, non-boring light. If we can think of this position as a gateway to playful exploration, chances are, you’ll start to see that missionary can be just as taboo / athletic / interesting as other positions. And like an actual missionary, I want to preach to you that no matter what, prioritizing your pleasure will make all sex more gratifying and authentic. So give these tips a shot, and see if they don’t produce rapturous results.

P.S. For a deep dive, listen to my podcast, Make Missionary Sex Hot.