Collaged photos of two people kissing over a photo of two people in b
Collage by Cathryn Virginia | Photos by Image Source and Uwe Krejci via Getty Images

How to Have Sex in the Missionary Position

The definitive VICE guide to one of the most common yet misunderstood positions in sex.
You want to learn. The VICE Guide can teach you.

The missionary position is sex 101. It is usually the go-to move when people are having sex for the first time, and often becomes the most commonly revisited position during long term relationships. And we’ve been doing it for thousands of years: From the Kama Sutra to Ancient Greek depictions on pottery and murals, couples have long been pictured as has having face-to-face, on-top sex.

But despite its popularity, there is a long held misconception that missionary position is boring and basic. For years, I fell for this fallacy and touted going doggy style as my fav. But in latter years it’s become increasingly clear to me that missionary is my number one, and I refuse to feel any semblance of shame about it. What’s hotter than being pounded into the mattress, legs and tits akimbo, while your hands frantically grip onto the bed stand, mattress or some back fat to ensure you can reciprocate the back and forth of a good bang? Nothing, that’s what.


So, as a sex writer with well over a decade of sexual experiences, it’s become imperative for me to stop mucking about and start spreading the true gospel of one of shagging’s core fundamentals. This is your guide to everything you need to know about the missionary position, plus some tips and tricks for turning it up a notch. 

What is the missionary sex position?

Missionary sex is when the man is on top and the woman is below. It’s typically associated with straight couplings, but anyone with a hole and a goal can get it to work, regardless of gender. Think of it this way: penetrator on top, penetrated on bottom. The person getting plowed is lying on their back and the person doing said plowing is usually on their knees, in between the legs of their partner. 

It’s a good position for getting momentum going and keeping thrusts consistent. And it’s also quite a romantic sex position, as you’re face-to-face with your partner and have easy access to sweet moments like holding their hand, stroking their hair or spitting in their gob

Why is it called the missionary position?

In spite of my creative writing degree, I’d never considered the etymology of this sex position, and why it was named after a colonising Christian movement. And the mythology surrounding the title is expectedly fucked up. The story goes that white missionaries, on seeing the various sex positions of other cultures, were shocked by this “sinful” behaviour and considered their male-dominant position to be spiritually superior. Others have disputed this, but still insist that the position originates from the church, who viewed it as the position people should use to bone as opposed to the positions used by animals (eg. doggy style). Either way, missionary has traditionally been put forward as the “correct” way to bonk. 


How do you do it?

Let’s call the hole owner ‘partner 1’ and the hole filler ‘partner 2’. First, you need a flat surface; traditionally this would be a bed, but a floor, a wide sofa, the back of a car with the seats down, or even a grassy meadow will do. Partner 1 lies on their back with their feet flat, knees raised and legs wide apart – kind of like if you’re getting a cervical smear, but more fun. Partner 2 goes down on their knees in the space between partner 1’s legs. This means partner 2’s junk (or pretend junk: c’mon, strap-on queens!) is aligned with partner 2’s hole. From here, the thrusting can come from either one of you but, traditionally, partner 2 is the one chucking it in. 

Why is missionary sex so underrated?

One of the joys of missionary position is getting a proper eyeful of the person you’re having intercourse with. To actively see the enjoyment you’re bringing someone with your cooter, arsehole, cock, fingers or strap is one of the simplest pleasures in life, and that is why I will always champion sex positions that place you face-to-face with your partner. 

It’s also hands-free, meaning neither of you need to hold onto anything in order for it to work – although gripping the mattress/one another/the bed frame can add momentum. This means you can use those digits for other applications, which comes in handy, if you can excuse the pun. Giving your mitts free roam of the other person (or other apparatus) can add a whole other level of fun to your missionary sex; whether that be raunchy or otherwise is up to you. 

Collage of a photo of two tongues kissing inside the silhouette of two people in the missionary position

Tip one: Fold down your pillow

When searching the web for what missionary position actually is, you may have stumbled across pieces giving tips on how to spice it up. The tips range from fucking on the floor instead of the bed to doing dirty talk to keep up the ante, but there’s more specific ways you can get the most out of it.

For one – and this is particularly relevant to any bigger boned bonkers out there – put a folded pillow or a cushion under your arse. This way, the penetrative object has less distance to get to you or your partner’s hole and can lead to much deeper thrusting, if you’re into that sort of thing. From personal experience, I’ve also found this position is the easiest to do kegels in, which benefits penis owners exponentially when they’re inside you. If you ask me, why shouldn’t we use our pelvic floor exercises to turn our cunts into a vibrating sheath?

Tip two: Utilize your space

Speaking of vibrating, missionary gives you and your partner ample space to slide in a vibrator or sex toy of your choice. There are even sex toys out there made specifically for using in the missionary position. Personally, I love putting a bullet vibe or one of the smaller magic wands between me and my partner to amp up the clit sensations. It can be super hot to get your plus one to hold and control the toy too, if DIY isn’t your thing. 

Elaborating on that point, if a vibrator can fit in between you then so can a hand, and manual stimulation from your partner can be just as gratifying as using a toy. Why not combine fingering techniques with your sex position, am I right?

Tip Three: Make it kinky

Missionary is an underrated position for the more BDSM-inclined amongst us, as it’s a perfect fit for partner 1 to be tied up and teased. I’d even recommend a blindfold, to add an extra level of sauce to this more traditional shagging style. Even if missionary has been labeled as basic, it truly doesn’t have to be and can easily be incorporated into different kinds of kink play and dynamics. There’s a reason the classics are the classics, and missionary style proves that sometimes the best ways really are the simplest ones.