5 Reasons Why Being On Top During Sex May Not Be The Best Position For You

You don't have to read the Kama Sutra to know that there is no one way to have sex. No matter your gender or sexual orientation, if you're willing to get creative enough and maybe even risk a sex-related injury, there are hundreds of sex positions that couples can try. While this may be a fact, most of us stick to a handful of tried-and-true positions and rarely deviate from them.


One of the more common positions involves being on top during sex. Once known as cowgirl — a term that's been scrapped for its lack of inclusivity — this position is when the person being penetrated gets on top and rides the penis or dildo of their partner. If you can confidentially embrace being on top, a major perk is how fantastic clitoral stimulation can be thanks to your partner's pubic bone. But for all its potential orgasm-inducing moans, it's not without its downsides.

"Whether it is due to body size, ability, or self-esteem, there are many reasons women may shy away from being on top," certified sex therapist Jennifer A. Wiessner, CST told Prevention. "For many women it's uncomfortable and more like a workout." Honestly, who wants to give their core and thighs an intense exercise session while they're trying to experience pleasure? Probably not many people, although there's surely a kink for that. If you don't like being on top, first know that you're not alone. Secondly, even if you've yet to discover why, there's a legitimate reason for it.


You experience discomfort or pain

According to the Mayo Clinic, roughly 40% of people with vulvas have experienced pain during intercourse. Although the reasons for this range from things like endometriosis and fibroids to infections and hormonal changes, sometimes the pain is due to the sexual position because it allows for such deep penetration.


"When the cervix and uterus are bumped repetitively during sex, the shock spreads through the surrounding pelvic ligaments," OB/GYN Kameelah Phillips, MD told Reader's Digest. This not only results in pain during intercourse, but even cramps after sex. And, naturally, the larger the penis or dildo penetrating you, the more amplified these sensations are. 

This can sometimes be prevented if you're 100% aroused because it lengthens the inside of the vagina and leads to more natural lubrication. But once you've experienced painful intercourse, it's a thought that's hard to shake. "If you're having sex and you're not aroused and fearing the onset of pain, it can affect your body's ability to accommodate penetration, which then causes more pain," pelvic floor therapist Dr. Samantha DuFlo told Bustle. In other words, things can get complicated and you could be turned off completely from being on top forever — which is fine.


You're not a fan of being on display

Even if you're not completely naked when you're on top, you're still very much on display. You're the star of the show! Even extroverts with all the confidence in the world can get wrapped up in what they look like to their partner from that angle. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that sexual satisfaction can be directly linked to how women fear their partner will perceive them during sex. From body image to physical conditions that impact performance and similar negative thinking, sexual difficulties for women often stem from mental stress taking them out of the moment.


"If a partner is looking at us from the bottom, we're thinking, 'They'll see up my nostrils,' [etc]... Those are things that are manifested in our heads," sexologist Megan Stubbs EdD told Refinery 29. Stubbs suggests that you "look through your partner's eyes" at yourself during intercourse so you can get out of your head. 

Sex, in itself, creates an intense level of vulnerability. Adding in the feeling that you're fully exposed with no place to hide certainly doesn't help the situation. If don't you like being on top for this reason, then keep an article of clothing on or nearby that can act like a security blanket to ease your nerves a bit.

You have concerns about the necessary stamina

Being on top when you have a vulva is a full-body workout. You're up there trying to bounce and/or grind and it doesn't involve just your hips to do this, but your legs, your core, arms, and having harnessed a great level of balance. To keep going in this position for an extended period isn't easy and anyone who says it is might be pulling your leg or training for a triathlon.


But just remember that you don't need to remain sitting upright the entire time when you're on top. "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," sex and relationship expert Antonia Hall told Women's Health. Also, if you choose to use your partner's body for support by leaning forward, you'll lessen that deep penetration and give your cervix a break.

You don't have a healthy relationship with sex

Unfortunately, especially for those of us raised in the United States, sex education didn't teach us enough and certainly didn't prepare us for sex in the way that other countries prepared their citizens. (The Dutch have had this down to a science for a long time now, in case you're wondering where sex ed is actually thriving. ) So when you grow up in a culture that not only doesn't educate their population about sex but still treats it as a taboo, it's going to be a struggle no matter the position.


"There is an abundance of misguided, harmful, and plainly false messages about sex that people take at face value as fact," psychotherapist Melissa Coats told Business Insider. Because of this, shame can follow, making things even more complicated when it comes to trying to embrace sex and sexuality in a healthy way. "Whether the shame is related to a sexual identity, fantasy, kink, (or something similar,) feeling attacked either by your own thoughts or someone else's thoughts or actions, you may automatically feel unsafe and want to retreat," said Coats.

You simply just don't want to be on top — and that's reason enough

For some people, being on top isn't the best position because they just don't like it. It involves so much work, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. Life is exhausting and sometimes (read: a lot of time), it's just easier to get into the spooning position, enjoy the benefits of using sex toys, and explore pleasure that way. "Based on my experience with couples all around the world, I think we should spend more time offering advice on lazy/tired sex than on sex moves and positions for the adventurous and energetic," sex expert Jessica O'Reilly, Ph.D. told Glamour.


Ultimately, how you choose to have sex — including positions — is up to you. You're not under any obligation to have to do, or let alone like, any specific position. As long as your sex life includes consent, pleasure equality, and you enjoy the journey with your partner or partners, that's all that matters. Those things have nothing to do with sexual positions and everything to do with communication.