Why the Coital Alignment Technique Will Change Your Sex Life, According to a Neuroscientist

Stuck in a missionary position rut? Allow me to introduce you to the Coital Alignment Technique (CAT).

In the summer of 1988, a research study clearly demonstrated that making some simple adjustments to the classic missionary man-on-top position could significantly increase the likelihood that women would experience orgasm during intercourse and also increase the chances of partners “coming together” (pun intended) with simultaneous orgasms. The technique was even hyped as the “cure” for female sexual dysfunction.

This version of the missionary position, known as the Coital Alignment Technique, or CAT for short, is surprisingly easy to learn and uber effective, yet in my experience, most women (and their partners) have yet to be introduced to its pleasures.

Before I get into how to do it, an important caveat: As a sex therapist turned neuroscientist, I encourage people not to make sex all about the orgasm. Being goal directed in the bedroom is a great way to inhibit the natural pleasures of being in the experience as is—and that’s where all the fun is.

The best missionary position

The good old fashioned missionary position has been shown to be a good way to stimulate the anterior wall of the vagina (the territory of the G-spot) which provides stimulation to the internal clitoris as well as the female prostate gland (AKA Skene’s glands or the paraurethral sponge).

The Coital Alignment Technique can do an even better job of stimulating the external clitoris than the regular missionary position. (But remember, the goal of the CAT is not creating an orgasm, but rather changing the way we align our bodies and move for maximum pleasure).

How to Do the Coital Alignment Technique

In the CAT, just like the standard missionary position, the penetrating partner lies on top. (For two partners with vaginas, this position can be adapted by getting creative and using sex toys or dildos for penetration.)

The penetrating partner then shifts their body position by moving upward on the receiving partner’s body (which is different from missionary). This is called “riding high.” The top partner’s chest should align with the bottom partner’s shoulders.

Once in position, the top partner rests their weight on the bottom partner, rather than using their arms to hold themselves up—this pressure is key for maximizing stimulation of the clitoris.

From this position, when the penetrating partner inserts a penis or sex toy, it will point more downward into the vagina rather than pointing upward as in the standard missionary position. This way, the base of the penis or sex toy makes more direct and sustained contact with the external clitoris, which results in more consistent clitoral contact and stimulation.

Now this is key: The penetrating partner doesn’t thrust in and out of the vagina, as in the missionary position. Genital contact is maintained by a rhythmic, coordinated rocking, which creates constant pressure on the clitoris. The receiving partner leads on rocking with the upstroke and the penetrating partner leads on the downstroke. Pelvic mobility is a critical factor that increases the likelihood of female orgasm—the more the receiving partner rocks their pelvis, the more blood flow will increase to the genitals and the more the sensations will ramp up.

Don’t just focus on the technique, focus on connecting with your partner. Use words, sounds, touches, to communicate what you want, what you like, or what feels the best. Don’t be afraid to let your partner know what’s not working, or what could work even better. Remember when it comes to sex, feedback is our friend.

And have fun. As I write in my book, Why Good Sex Matters, partners who remember that the bedroom can be a playground for grown-ups end up overall having more fun and pleasure—which is not a luxury, but a necessity for a well-balanced emotional brain and overall well-being.

Nan Wise, Ph.D., is an AASECT-certified sex therapist, neuroscientist, certified relationship expert, and author of Why Good Sex Matters: Understanding the Neuroscience of Pleasure for a Smarter, Happier, and More Purpose-Filled Life. Follow her @AskDoctorNan.

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