The following is a list of 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. In fact, some of these positions are also found among bonobos.

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.

Table of contents
1 Introduction
2 Nomenclature
3 Common positions
4 Less common positions
5 Non-penetration or low-penetration sex
6 Unusual positions
7 Group sex
8 Positions for pregnancy
9 See also


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

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

Since the most common sexual activity worldwide is heterosexual vaginal intercourse, the positions listed are described in terms of one male and one 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: some positions which require the penis to be bent backwards relative to the normal erect position can only be accomplished with the penis in a semi-soft state. Great care should be taken in positions that risk bending the erect penis to avoid the danger of damaging the penis through penile fracture.


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 Latinate terms such as coitus more ferarum ("intercourse in the manner of an 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.

Common positions

These are the most widely known positions, and are widespread and prevalent during the act of sex.

  • Cowgirl -- woman on top; man on bottom; also know as Woman-On-Top.
  • Doggy -- man penetrates from behind; woman on all fours, facing down.
    • Leapfrog -- variant on the Doggy position; woman torso is lower; also know as Face down ass up.
    • Upright doggy -- variant on the doggy position; woman kneels upright.
    • Spread-eagle -- woman lies facing down, legs spread open; man on top.
  • 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.
    • Butterfly position -- a variant on the missionary position.
    • Coital alignment technique -- variant on the missionary position
  • Spoons position -- side by side; man penetrates from behind.
  • 69 -- simultaneous oral sex; often side-by-side, or either the man or woman can be on top.

Less common positions

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

Sitting / Kneeling sex positions

  • Armchair -- variant on the watching the game; woman sits in a chair; man kneels in front of the woman.
  • Black bee-- man sits, hands behind on the floor; woman sits on top, hands on shoulders.
  • Furniture -- woman on the edge of furniture, legs spread; man kneels.
  • Persuading of the debtor -- man penetrates kneeling; woman on back, ankles on each side of man's shoulders.
  • Playing of the cello -- woman on back, ankles on one of the man's shoulders; man kneeling penetrates from back; also know as Playing of the violin.
  • Proposal -- woman kneels, legs apart; man kneels, one knee on ground.
  • Split level -- woman on bottom, legs around man; man kneels.
  • Watching the game -- variant on the cowgirl position; man sits in a chair; woman sits, facing the man; also know as the Lap dance.

Standing sex positions

  • Reverse piggy-back -- man penetrates standing; woman lifted, wrapping legs around man; can be done free-standing or up against an upright surface. Also know as the tree position.
  • Stand and Carry -- man stands, holding woman; woman wraps legs around man's waist and arms around man's shoulders.
  • Standing -- Both stand using a structure for support.
  • Wheelbarrow -- man penetrates standing; woman on bottom lifted by thighs; also known as 'Hovering of the floor'.

Non-penetration or low-penetration sex

Unusual positions

These are positions not commonly encountered. These are rarely experienced or observed. They are not regularly nor customarily engaged in. These are not in conformity with regular practice of sex.

Acrobatic skill / extreme agility required

  • Advanced black bee -- variant on the Black bee; man sits, hands behind on the floor; woman sits on top, hands and legs on shoulders.
  • Toilet -- variant on the reverse cowgirl position; man on back upside down, knees bent; woman sits on man.

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 erotic furniture and other apparatus such as fisting slings and trapezes have been used to facilitate even more exotic sexual positions.

Group sex

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

Positions for pregnancy

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

  • Missionary
  • Spoon
  • Leapfrog
  • Cowgirl
  • Spread-eagle

See also

Compare with: lordosis behavior in other animals


  • 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

External links