Man on Top

The man-on-top position is one of the oldest sexual positions and probably the most common. For many couples, it is their “default” position, the one they automatically rely on when one or both partners are feeling particularly energetic or adventurous.

Basic Man-on-Top: Missionary Style

The basic man-on-top position — commonly known as “the missionary position” — involves the woman lying on her back, typically with her knees bent and pulled up slightly. The man gets on top of her, supporting most of his weight with his arms (the rest of his weight is supported by the woman's body). Often, the woman will wrap her legs around the man's body, sometimes interlocking her feet behind his back, especially as she becomes more excited.

Famous sexual researcher Alfred Kinsey found that the wide majority (more than 90 percent) of married women said they used the missionary position most often. Interestingly, almost 10 percent of married women said they only used this position.

In conservative cultures, it is common for the man to rarely — if ever — see the woman totally naked. The missionary position is a popular choice in these situations, as it allows couples to have sex simply by lifting up the dress or skirt, or possibly even by the man inserting his penis through a gap or opening in the woman's clothing. This position is also favored in societies where it is seen as important to emphasize the man's superiority over the woman.

How did the “missionary position” get its nickname?

Nobody really knows for sure. There was a legend (now generally considered untrue) that, in an effort to discourage sexually adventurous behavior, early missionaries declared this the only “approved” position accepted by the church for procreation. The term first appeared in English dictionaries in the late 1960s.

Women tend to either love the missionary position or hate it. Some women like being “covered up” or shielded by the man's body, so they do not feel as vulnerable or exposed as they might in other positions. This may especially be true if the woman is self-conscious about her body. Some women also like the fact that, in this position, the man does virtually all of the work. Lastly — but perhaps most importantly — this position is one of the best for intimacy, pillow talk, etc, because of the face-to-face contact.

On the other hand, there are women who find this position uncomfortable and stifling. They may feel like they are trapped under the man. This position can also be uncomfortable for the woman if the man is especially large or heavy. One of the main drawbacks of this position, though, is that many women find it tough to reach orgasm solely through sex in this position.

Yawning Position

In one popular variation of the man-on-top position, the woman lifts her legs wider apart, bringing them up and over the man's arms. This allows for deeper penetration. This position is known as the “yawning position.”

Legs Raised High (Rising Position)

A more challenging version of the yawning position involves the woman extending her legs straight up so that her feet rest on the man's shoulders (or chest). This allows her to use the man's body as leverage so she can thrust and move her hips more easily. Many women enjoy the deep penetration this position allows, although it can strain the legs if continued for a long period of time, especially if the woman is unaccustomed to being in this position.

For another variation of the legs high position, the woman puts both of her legs on the same side of her partner — meaning, both feet would be resting near a single shoulder. This position can allow for deeper penetration.

The yawning, legs raised high, and splitting the bamboo positions are all said to be very conducive to G-spot stimulation. The woman can encourage this by rotating her hips and guiding the man into the best position for maximum G-spot contact.

Splitting the Bamboo

A more challenging variation of the legs raised high position is called splitting the bamboo. In this position, the woman only keeps one leg fully extended to the man's shoulder. The other leg is kept bent at her side or lying flat on the bed or floor. The woman then alternates, switching legs at certain intervals (switching legs rapidly can be challenging, but the friction provides an exciting sensation).

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