Article By Ryn Pfeuffer
~ SEPTEMBER 2022 ~
As fun as missionary sex may be, when was the last time you tried something new in the bedroom?
Instead of sticking to what you know when getting it on, sometimes switching up the same old positions can reignite your sexual spark. “Humans desire novelty to keep us interested,” says Rachel Zar, LMFT, an AASECT-certified sex therapist based in Chicago. But, she adds, what happens so often in long-term partnerships is we tend to revert to what works.
Every couple has their go-tos: what’s quickest, easiest, and gets them off best. And sure, it’s nice to have a greatest hits reel of pleasure. Still, Zar says not to underestimate the relationship-reviving wonders of newness.“Trying a new sex position can bring on different sensations during sex, and each partner can find out more about what the other partner likes and what really turns them on,”says Debra Laino, PhD, a board certified clinical sexologist and relationship therapist.
Cue the butterfly sex position, a steamier version of tried-and-true missionary.
Not only is this position hot AF, it’s also a great option for anyone with a vagina as it’s an easy way to get blood flow to the clitoris. And since an estimated 78 percent of heterosexual people with vulvas don’t come from vaginal penetration alone (either with a penis or dildo), according to a study published in JSM Sexual Medicine, any position focusing on clitoral stimulation means a greater potential for orgasm (IYKYK). Nevertheless, it should be noted that the butterfly sex position works for all genders, no matter what genitals you have, and is also a great way to make anal sex even more pleasurable.
Meet the Experts: Rachel Zar, LMFT, is an AASECT-certified sex therapist based in Chicago, Illinois.
Debra Laino, PhD, is a board-certified clinical sexologist and relationship therapist.
Ahead, experts explain everything you need to know to about the butterfly sex position. Once you try it, it’s sure to become you and bae’s new go-to move (promise!).
What is the butterfly sex position, and how do I do it?
The butterfly sex position is much like classic missionary, except with a few modifications.
To get into the position, the receiving partner lies down on their back, on a flat surface (think: a bed, table, etc.), with their butt in the air, and usually with their legs spread open and bent, explains Laino. Meanwhile, the giving partner stands at the end of the bed, table or whatever surface you’re using (ahem, kitchen counter anyone?), to penetrate the receiving partner with either their penis or dildo. The receiving partner can either have their legs spread open, straight up in a wide “V” or rest their ankles on their partner’s shoulders.
Why is the butterfly sex position so popular?
There’s no wonder why so many people gush about the butterfly sex position. In addition to being easy to do, this pleasure-packed move is also a great way to bring excitement into the bedroom. “It’s a pretty simple way to switch things up, especially for folks who are used to doing missionary their whole sex life and just dipping their toes into new positions,” says Zar. She adds that the sensations are similar to missionary—the one big difference, of course, is that it allows for deeper penetration, which is a huge benefit to this sex position if you’re into that. “Some folks really enjoy the sensation of being full, vaginally or anally, that kind of stretching feeling,” Zar notes.
Oh, and the butterfly sex position has plenty of other benefits, too. Some female-bodied people can achieve orgasms in this position. This doesn’t happen for everyone, but the stimulation of the back of the vagina (or anterior fornix erogenous zone, also known as the “A-spot”) can add to or create an orgasm all on its own, says Zar. “Of course, there is the caveat that, for some people, cervical stimulation is painful or uncomfortable, so move slowly,” she advises.
Additionally, the butterfly sex position gives the penetrating partner easy access to the clitoris, since your legs are literally wide open. This allows your partner to stimulate your clit at the same time as they’re penetrating you, also making it more likely for you to achieve orgasm.
Benefits abound for the penetrating partner, too. If they are using their penis, they will feel more stimulation and surface area in this position, says Zar, which can be pleasurable.
There is also no weight being put on either partner, so it’s a relatively easy position to have sex in, with low physical manipulation, says Laino.
And because the butterfly sex position is hands-free, if you’re the penetrating partner, you can use those hands to explore your partner’s erogenous zones in addition to the clit (think: nipples and inner thighs). The receiving partner can do the same—or not, and simply enjoy you taking full loving advantage of them. If you like to surrender during sex (or want to give your partner full reign), your only real job as the receiver in this position is to lie there comfortably and enjoy the ride.
On the other hand, “if you like being a bit more dominant, this is a good position since you’re literally up on a higher plane looking down at your partner,” says Zar.
Want to add even more sex positions to your sexual repertoire? Check out these moves that put you in control:
How can I make this position even more enjoyable?
For starters, you can deepen penetration by using a wedge or sex pillow to explore different angles, says Laino.
Or, if deep penetration doesn’t feel good for you, the penetrating partner can use a penis bumper to control the depth of penetration, suggests Zar. Basically, you put something on the base of the penis, whether it’s a hand, rolled-up sock, or buffer ring, that allows for the feeling of deep penetration without hitting the back of your cervix.
If you and your partner enjoy anal play, this position is also an excellent choice. If the receiving partner has a penis, this move can stimulate their prostate or “P-spot,” leading to some pretty strong orgasms. When engaging in anal sex in this position, Zar suggests the person receiving pull their knees closer to their body rather than putting their ankles on their partner’s shoulders as that may be more comfortable.
Adding sex toys can also amp up the experience. There’s lots of space to use your favorite vibrator because it doesn’t have to fit in that tiny pocket between your bodies when you’re having sex in other, less accessible positions, says Zar. And remember, vibrators are great for folks of all genders—not just people with clitorises. The penetrating partner is sure to enjoy those added vibrations, too.
Lastly, if you’re into bondage, Zar encourages couples to incorporate a blindfold into the mix: “This can be especially nice for the person receiving since all they have to do is lie there. You don’t really have to see where you’re going.”
How do I make the butterfly sex position work for me?
If you’re reading this and thinking, “Yeah, I don’t think I can get my ankles onto their shoulders,” don’t fret. The beauty of the butterfly position is that it’s easy to adapt to different body types and abilities. Here’s how to make it work for you:
1. Use a stabilizer.
If you can’t get your legs all the way up, use a stabilizer, such as a stool a little lower than the bed or table, to ground your feet and stabilize your legs, suggests Laino.
Having a wall behind the penetrating partner is a great option, as well. “The receiving partner can lift their legs and stabilize themselves with their feet on the wall,” she says. “This can also help as a springboard for deeper penetration.”
2. Sit down or kneel.
If the partner lying down is too low for the partner standing up, that may put unnecessary pressure on the penetrating partner’s knees. Instead, Zar says they can always sit, with legs outstretched beneath the receiving partner’s back and behind, or kneel in front of the receiving partner, making sure to align their pelvis with the other person’s vagina or anus. It still counts as the butterfly sex position, even if neither partner is standing up.
3. Place your feet on their chest instead.
Suppose the receiving partner wants a little bit more control over the depth and rhythm of penetration. Instead of laying their ankles on top of their partner’s shoulders, the receiving partner can put their feet on the other person’s chest, says Zar. This variation on the butterfly sex position not only allows them to have more control over the depth of penetration, it can also be more comfortable for folks who can’t get their ankles all the way onto their partner’s shoulders. Win-win!
4. Try different poses.
If flexibility is an issue and a wide “V” isn’t possible, that’s okay. Try the happy baby position—bringing your knees closer to your chest, while grabbing your feet—as an alternative, suggests Zar. Or, you can just let your legs fall naturally and see where they land. “That is what’s going to be the most comfortable, so you’re not tensing your muscles,” she says.
Ultimately, when expanding your sexual repertoire, the key is simply doing things that are good for you overall, such as prioritizing communication, exploration, experimentation and play, explains Zar. “These are good tools to have in your toolbox in general,” she says. “Switching things up kind of forces you to use them and get good at them.”
Zar likes to think about anything that has to do with sexual exploration as a journey, rather than a final destination. “It’s a place you’re passing through as you explore,” she says. So, try out a new position, and if it’s uncomfortable or not doing it for you or your partner for any reason, listen to your body and redirect.