Ah, the missionary – the rudimentary position that lives in the popular imagination as the hallmark of a boring sex life. Roll on, a bit of thrusting, roll off, sleep, repeat on Valentine’s Day next year. But what if I told you that, with just a few small adjustments, this position can go from vanilla to va va voom? Introducing the coital alignment technique, or CAT for short.
Coital alignment might sound a bit dry and forensic, but the technique’s results are anything but. The premise is simple: Instead of focusing on the ol’ in-and-out, CAT focuses on rubbing, bumping and grinding. Basically, the technique shifts the main focus from vaginal penetration to clitoral stimulation. Goodbye orgasm gap!
But don’t just take my word for it. VICE has rounded up a team of sex experts to get us familiar with the CAT. Right, let’s get down to business.
What is the coital alignment technique?
“CAT, or ‘grinding the corn’, is a variation of the missionary position introduced by American psychotherapist Edward Eichel to optimise the likelihood of the female, or bottom partner, achieving an orgasm,” relationship and sex therapist Georgina Vass tells VICE.
“Grinding the corn” might not sound too erotic, but it’s definitely a lot more fun than being left high and dry after the person on top of you has got their rocks off. “A large proportion of women in mainly heterosexual relationships don’t orgasm from vaginal intercourse,” Vass says, plainly. A 2017 study found that only 65 percent of straight women said they usually or always orgasmed, compared to 95 percent of straight men and 89 percent of gay men. One explanation for this, Vass says “could be the distance between their clitoris and urinary opening”. Basically, the shorter the distance, the more likely you are to orgasm from intercourse.
That’s where CAT comes in: It can, according to Charlotte Johnson, help both partners hit the sweet spot. “In the CAT position, one partner lies on top of the other, but rather than aligning their bodies directly, the partner on top moves slightly upward so that the pelvis is positioned higher,” she says. This allows for more contact between both partners than the traditional thrusting of missionary, and allows for greater clitoral stimulation.
And it’s not just the orgasm gap that CAT can help with. “This sex position is also great for people who can’t become fully erect,” says clinical sexologist and couples therapist Ness Cooper. “They are still able to use their penis to stimulate the clitoris, [because] the person on top’s pelvis is tilted more for targeted clitoral stimulation rather than penetration.” Cooper continues: “Both involved still can receive pleasure from the rubbing sensations,” and, she adds, it can also be “great for those experiencing vaginismus or penetration issues.”
In fact, the position doesn’t necessarily rely on a penis being involved at all. “A strap-on can also be used in this sex position,” she says, “and different angled dildos may offer more or less clitoral contact when performing the recommended rocking motions.”
Why is it so popular?
The obvious and simple answer is: orgasms. The second is that it’s proven to work. The position was heavily researched after the publication of Eichel’s original study in 1988, and now has stats to back it up. According to one study of women who could not orgasm from missionary, for example, the group who were subsequently taught CAT increased their orgasm frequency by 56 percent.
“Another reason it may be popular could be due to the potential for fostering intimacy,” says Vass. “The couple face each other with their bodies mostly connected, which can serve as an opportunity to easily touch, caress, kiss, or lick each other, while working together to achieve simultaneous orgasm.” And last but not least, the technique can be done relatively quietly which, as Vass points out, “has its advantages in certain scenarios.”
So, how do you do it exactly?
“It’s hard to be too prescriptive with guidance due to varying body shapes and sizes,” says Vass, “but the aim is for the couple to get into missionary position.” From there, the top partner shifts their body forward slightly. “It may be that their chest is in the face of the other partner,” she says. “Both partners should be pelvis to pelvis with the penis, or toy pointed downwards.”
Along with adjusting their positioning, first time CAT-ers might also have to adjust their expectations. “It may be helpful for the top partner to expect that it’s unlikely that the entire penis or toy will be inserted,” says Vass. Once the penis or toy is partially inserted, “both partners should ‘grind’ each other, simulating a slow and controlled rocking motion, as opposed to the in-and-out of missionary.”
Don’t be afraid to mix up your movements either – whether you’re top or bottom. “The person on the bottom can reduce the gap between their thighs to give their partner more support and help direct the penis to the clitoris more,” says Cooper. “Having the legs parted in different ways may also vary how deep the penetration is when it does occur.”
If you’ve been bumping and grinding for a good while and you’re not feeling it, then don’t worry. “If you still don’t have any creamed corn, you can always revert back to missionary and stimulate the clit manually,” says Vass.
Tips and tricks
“It’s likely that it will take practice to make this technique work for you,” says Vass. Even with practice, she says “you may still find it unenjoyable and not achieve orgasm. Bodies vary greatly and it’s possible that even with modifications and perfect harmony, the technique just doesn’t work for you or your partner – that’s OK.”
Having said this though, there are ways to get your CAT purring (sorry, no more cat or corn jokes from here on). First up, experiment with variations. Vass suggests that it may help if the bottom partner wraps their legs around the top partner “to glue their bodies together, resist the familiarity of in-and-out motion, and create the rhythmic rocking motion in sync.”
Don’t just stick to rocking around though – the technique also allows you to incorporate lots of sensual touch. “Gentle caresses, kissing and exploring each other’s bodies can complement the rocking motion,” says Johnson. Cooper gives a tangible example: “It can allow for easier access to the person on top’s nipples, so adding in sucking, pinching and even nipple clamps can increase pleasure.”
Both Cooper and Vass also point to one everyday bedroom item that can heighten your experience: a pillow under the receiver’s buttock. “This can help tilt their pelvis and allow for easier access to the clitoris,” Cooper says. “It may also help to optimise the intensity of the stimulation and provide general comfort,” Vass adds.
“The position can focus on the head of the penis, and adding extra lubricant to the penis head can help increase sensations,” says Vass. “Some people also find that wearing a vibrating cock ring may enhance the sensation for both partners,” she says. The opportunities really are endless, folks.
At the end of the day, the point is to just play around, have fun and potentially notch up your orgasm rate at the end of it. “Hopefully, you and your partner can benefit from some form of bonding, adventure, playfulness, or intimacy,” Vass concludes. Though, in the end, you might decide you’re less of a CAT person and more into doggy style. Right, that really is the last one.
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