Being on top is often touted as THE way to take control of your pleasure, make sex (especially penetrative sex) feel the way you always thought it should, and give you orgasms all over the place. And sure, it *can* do those things, or some of 'em, or maybe even none of the above. And all of that is normal.
Listen, being on top can be super vulnerable. Like, being all naked up there can bring up stupid fears about how you look or whether you're secretly bad in bed. Is there a right way to move, and is that what you are doing??? Aaah!
If we're being real here: Being on top isn’t always as easy as it looks. Much as we might all want to channel our inner cowgirl, sometimes it's just easier said than done. Yeah, there's the old adage that being on top can lead to a better chance of orgasm as incentive, but sometimes you’re just feeling shy! Being on top during sex puts you in a vulnerable position and it can be intimidating and tricky to master for some. If you're having trouble feeling confident when you're on top during sex, don't worry!
Because here's the thing: There are tons of helpful tricks and tips to mastering how to do woman-on-top. From spelling certain letters or words with your hips, grabbing onto a surface to stabilize yourself, and adding toys into the mix, there are a ton of actionable ways to improve your on-top experience. And if it's really not for you, that's totally valid, and we've even got tips on how to tell your partner that in a way that won't make you feel nervous or put on the spot. Here, a few sex experts and educators share their top tips for mastering this position without breaking a sweat, based on questions they get all. the. time.
1. "I HAVE A HARD TIME ORGASMING IN THIS POSITION. ARE THERE ANY TOYS THAT CAN HELP?"
Most of us can't orgasm with penetration alone, so go ahead and throw some stimulating toys in the mix: “I love love LOVE toys and always use them during sex! If I am in cowgirl, I like to opt for a bullet vibe or a small wand because it's easier for me to reach my clit and not overwhelm myself with sensations,” says Cheyenne Davis, a writer and expert in this space. Wearable vibes, couples' toys and vibrating cock rings can also make a big difference.
And also: "I have two words for you...anal plugs. Those two words can also be prefaced by 'vibrating' or 'warming.' Get on top and have your partner enter you, then while you’re riding and open to pleasure, give your partner permission to apply an anal lubricant and slide the plug in. It’s like orgasm-inducing double penetration, minus the additional sweaty body," says Blaire Adler, sex expert for Blurs of Love.
2. "I AM FEELING REALLY SELF-CONSCIOUS RIGHT NOW AND I HATE BEING ON TOP. ANY ADVICE?"
"I normally DESPISE being on top!" says Cheyenne Davis. "As a fat femme who normally has partners that are smaller than I am, I didn't always feel supported when I got on top. I normally did most of the work, and it made me very turned off very quickly. However, after trying it with a more caring and pleasure-centric partner, I found that the best way to go about it is to do it where we are both sitting, and I can rock my hips rather than bounce with unsteady knees." Basically, go ahead and move around (and communicate with your partner!) until you find what feels right to you.
"I had to find ways to embrace my body and not feel awkward or insecure about my stomach or ass being in the way," she adds. "Sex is a beautiful thing for ALL bodies to enjoy, and during the pandemic while being on an indefinite sex break, I learned to love my body. Although I still am not a HUGE fan of being on top, becoming more body neutral has helped me with being more open to revisiting being on top once I start having sex again."
Also worth remembering: "If you do feel uncomfortable being on top you can always communicate that and try other positions. I am a firm believer of constant and clear communication and consent during sex, and it is totally okay if a position just isn't working," says Davis. "I think we don't humanize sex enough and think it's always so pristine and perfect, when in fact it's deliciously messy, funny, awkward and beautiful."
3. "WHAT ARE THE EASIEST THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND TO MASTER WOMAN-ON-TOP?"
Get out of your head and try not to overthink the process, suggests sexologist Malika O’Neill, LPC, and founder and CEO of The Pleasure Collective, LLC. Overthinking things might psych yourself out and O'Neill says this is typically where people will find themselves either going off rhythm or being so anxious that they aren't able to find pleasure in the experience. "Remember you're in control and allow that to make you feel powerful. Let your hips guide you and do most of the work," suggests O'Neill, adding that if you try to work out your entire body while on top, it'll tire you out faster and you'll likely lose stamina.
4. "IS THERE ANY PARTICULAR RHYTHM YOU SHOULD TRY TO MOVE TO DURING WOMAN-ON-TOP? I'VE HEARD (OR READ) THAT YOU SHOULD TRY TO SPELL 'COCONUT' WITH YOUR HIPS WHILE ON TOP."
The "coconut" trick is great, because it's all rounded letters that are easy to "spell" with your hips. O'Neill also suggests trying to spell the word "cowgirl." Go at a medium pace that allows you and your partner to feel each rhythm or letter—this not only allows you to slow down enough to make things pleasurable, but you're also able to gauge your partner's reaction and body language to see which letters they enjoy more than others.
Another easy trick O'Neill suggests for Riding 101 is to try to create the letters "W" or "M" with your hips as well. You can also have you or your partner try to create the letter "O" in slow motion, she suggests.
Get creative with it! If you or your partner find that you have a penchant for rounded letters or letters with lots of peaks and dips like "W" or "M," incorporate those into your hip rhthym. You don't even have to ~spell~ anything. No one will tell if you're just hip-typing out "WWWWWWWWWWWWWW" a million times over if that's what floats your boat!
5. "HOW DO I TELL MY PARTNER IF I DON'T ENJOY BEING ON TOP?"
"We tend to be our most vulnerable selves while in sexual situations with our partners, so being strategic here could be important," says O'Neill. She suggests either directing your partner to a different position, which focuses on what you desire rather than what you don't like. Positives over negative, always! You can say something like, "I love when you take me from behind," instead of "I don't like being up here."
O'Neill also tells her clients to try to communicate using "the compliment sandwich," aka sandwiching a comment about something you don't like, between two compliments.
6. "THERE'S A STIGMA THAT WOMEN WHO DON'T ENJOY BEING ON TOP ARE 'LAZY.' SHOULD I FEEL GUILTY IF I DON'T LIKE BEING ON TOP? WHAT ARE SOME VERY VALID REASONS YOU MIGHT NOT LIKE BEING ON TOP?"
First things first, never feel guilty or bad about yourself for not wanting to be on top (or anything else during a sexual situation in general), says O'Neill. It's your body, and the whole point of sex is to provide a pleasurable experience for you and your partner. If both people aren't enjoying it, what's the point? As for some very valid reasons you might not be into being on top, O'Neill says you might just prefer when your partner is in control, you might be afraid of heights, or you might experience sexual pain when on top for a variety of reasons.
Don't be afraid to voice your preferences and never feel obligated to get on top if you hate it just because you don't want to seem "lazy"—that's just not true.
7. "NO, BUT SERIOUSLY: HOW DO I GET OVER ANY INSECURITY ABOUT MY LOOKS WHILE ON TOP?"
Luckily, this one is all mental. "We tend to have an idea from porn that we need to be sitting straight up for his visual pleasure, and that we need to have a perfect body to do so," says Lynn Wolfbrandt, sexuality coach who specializes in female sexuality. In reality, if you’re having sex with a man, "it's 99 percent guaranteed that he's having an amazing time, no matter what you’re doing," says Wolfbrandt.
Tap into your inner diva and make the moment all about you and your pleasure. You know how dudes won't realize you cut 10 inches off your hair for weeks until you literally bring up the fact that you did so? There's your proof that he won't be criticizing your body or anything to the degree you worry about.
If you wanna take a mental break and step away from the showgirl spotlight for a mo’, you can also try getting on top while belly-to-belly, or even close your legs and squeeze to get more clitoral pleasure, adds Wolfbrandt.
8. "HOW DO I GET INTO THE POSITION?"
Wondering how to segue gracefully over your partner’s body? "Begin by kneeling over your partner and gently lower yourself down," explains Antonia Hall, sex and relationship expert and author of The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life. “From there, it's easy to bounce up and down or rock your hips, adjusting your angle to stimulate your clitoris," she adds. You can also try squatting with your feet flat. You’ll need more balance, but it opens your hips for deeper penetration.
9. "WHAT DO I HOLD ONTO DURING WOMAN-ON-TOP?"
The answer: Build a sex fort. Okay not really, but it's totally cool to call in for furniture backup if you need. "Don't be shy to use props especially if you have short legs or need extra support through the pelvic floor," says Fiona Gilbert, sexual wellness consultant. Folded towels, yoga bricks, pillows, sex furniture, are all your friends here.
10. "WHY DO PEOPLE ALWAYS SAY BEING ON TOP IS BETTER FOR WOMEN, ANYWAY?"
"You have more control over the speed, angle, and intensity, so it makes it easier to keep it at a rhythm that’s really doing it for you. Your vulva and clitoris are also very accessible, and the vast majority of women find intercourse much more pleasurable if they are also stroking or being stroked in this area," Layla Martin, sexpert extraordinaire and author of Wild Woman in the Bedroom, explains. And then there's also the mental element of control: Taking the reins and doing things exactly how you want can feel beyond hot.
11. "OK, BUT WHAT CAN YOU TRY IF YOU’RE HAVING TROUBLE GETTING THE RIGHT ANGLE WHEN YOU’RE ON TOP?"
Yes, in theory it makes sense that being on top lets your clit get more stimulation, but if that angle just isn't happening for you, you've got options. To find that sweet spot, Martin suggests moving your body forward and back very slowly, and left to right, to see if you can notice and slight differences in sensation. Basically, troubleshoot!
Too deep? No problem. "If you are uncomfortable because the penetration feels too deep, you can try lying forward and propping yourself up on your hands or forearms almost like you are in a missionary position," Martin offers. And don't get discouraged if you don't get there right away. "The key is to not get caught up thinking it's not working and you need to fix it, but to focus instead on sensually discovering the spot that holds the greatest pleasure for you."
12. "HOW DO YOU FIGURE OUT HOW TO MOVE YOUR BODY?"
Once you've found the perfect angle, you can still get bogged down on how to move, especially if you think you have to be a dancer or someone with impeccable natural rhythm in order to nail it. But all you need is practice: Hall suggests starting by making small, slow adjustments to your hips or body until you hit that sweet spot.
"You can use your leg muscles and core to move up and down, then carefully lean forward or back to bring things into alignment," Hall says."Your hands can go on the bed for support and balance as you move into positions that feel great for you, and what feels good often changes, so you should feel comfortable adjusting as desired."
13. "WHAT CAN I TRY IF I JUST GET REALLY TIRED REALLY QUICKLY WHEN I’M ON TOP?"
It's no surprise that being on top exerts a liiiiiiittle more energy than just lying there and noticing all the cracks in your ceiling. Martin counsels that you can always slow way down but adds, "The biggest thing is to remember to breathe. If you’ve ever done intensive workouts, you can go much farther and longer if you breathe deeply. This will seem totally natural since people tend to breathe much more intensively during sex." Deep inhales and exhales can help you focus on sensation and not become exhausted so quickly.
But you can also let your partner take over for a bit. "Sex is a dance," Halls says. And your partner is probably going to move their hips a little too, because it feels amazing. She also recommends leaning forward so you're lying on top of your partner in a sort-of missionary pose to ease the strain (and signal to them that they can contribute to the thrusting as well).
14. "ARE THERE ANY WORKOUTS YOU CAN DO TO MAKE ON-TOP SEX BETTER FOR YOU?"
"Great sexual stamina comes from strength in your large muscle groups and a good cardio routine," Hall says. "Working on your legs and core will really help in the bedroom. I also always advise doing Kegels, which will help strengthen your pelvic muscles, which means bigger, better orgasms."
15. "ARE THERE ANY VARIATIONS OF THE TRADITIONAL 'ON TOP OF MY PARTNER, FACING THEM' POSITION? AND WTF ARE THEY?"
You've got other choices! For one, you can swing your way into reverse cowgirl, which Martin suggests can be "hugely liberating." This is basically staying on top of the penis, but leaning on your forearms, or sitting up, facing his toes instead of his face.
BUT THERE'S MORE! "There is an advanced position where you are facing forward and you lean to one side, and place that hand down to support yourself and give your pelvis a light lift. The extra support and slight lift of your pelvis means you can undulate up and down with more range in your pelvis, and this can be super erotic," Martin explains.
16. "WHAT ARE SOME GOOD TOYS TO ADD TO WOMAN-ON-TOP SEX?"
Many women can't orgasm with P-in-V sex alone, so it can be good to throw in an accessory. Hall says this is a great position for incorporating vibrators, and recommends a handheld clitoral stimulator or a couples vibrator.
17. "IS THERE ANY WAY YOU COULD HURT YOURSELVES WITH ON-TOP SEX?"
Woman-on-top sex is actually the most common position for penile fracturing, but it's still not insanely common or easy to do. The main thing to do, according to Hall, is ease into things slowly every time, because you can injure your partner if you lean in a way that bends their penis uncomfortably, or bounce up and down so quickly that you fall on a bad angle and hurt or even break their penis.
18. "WHAT IF I CAN'T RELAX?"
There are tons of other benefits to getting on top that you might not have realized. "Sex is very psychological, and for women to experience their deepest orgasms, there are parts of their brain that need to go silent that have to do with judgement and control," says Martin. When you're on your back, you might actually be more caught up in your head but when you're on top, you're forced to concentrate more on the physical act, which can help you really let go.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.