Let's not sugarcoat it: 69-ing can be an incredibly vulnerable, awkward, and intimate sex position. Your nose is up close and personal with your partner's butt, you're practically practising yoga with a penis/dildo/clit in or around your mouth, and if your partner has a penis, there are balls to consider as well.
Still, some sexperts say the oral sex position perks are too often overlooked. ""What's unique and sexy about this position is that it's a total pleasure equal opportunist," says sex educator Tara Struyk, co-founder of Kinkly, an online sexual wellness resource. "It isn't about one partner pleasing the other and waiting for their turn. It's totally mutual." And mutual pleasure? Undeniably H-O-T.
Many folks with vulvas have a hard time relaxing when receiving oral sex, adds Lisa Finn, a sex educator at sex toy emporium Babeland. So, "69ing can be a great way to take off some of the pressure so that you can and finally melt into the pleasure of oral play."
What Is the 69 Position, Exactly?
"Look at the digits and you've got a pretty decent illustration of what your bodies are supposed to be doing in the positions," says Finn. Can't see it? Think of the circle of each number as the head. So, in this dual-oral position, your bodies are flipped so that your heads are facing each other's genitals.
How you get into this position depends on each person's height, genitals, flexibility, strength, and body shapes. "Finding a position that's comfortable for both of you is most important," says Carol Queen Ph.D., Good Vibrations sexologist and curator of the Antique Vibrator Museum.
However, the classic 69 sex position is still the most common iteration, says Queen. Here's what that looks like IRL "Have your partner lie straight down on their back, then crawl on top of them in the opposite direction, belly-down," says Finn. Your eyes and tongue should be lined up with their genitals, and theirs with yours.
If height variation is an issue, Queen suggests making sure the bigger or taller partner is on the bottom for best comfortability. Incorporating a sex pillow is another option (more on that below).
How to Make the 69 Position More Enjoyable
1. Own your body.
""69ing takes a little more confidence and coordination than some other oral sex positions, but if you can embrace your body and the configuration, it's worth it," says Finn.
For starters, know this: Vaginas smell, taste, and look like vaginas, not flowers. Many people feel self-conscious about this, but just let that go, says Finn. Sure, there are a few reasons your vagina might smell off, but face it, you know when your vagina's not its usual self, so chances are your vagina is perfectly normal and lickable.
If you're feeling self-conscious about it, here's a tip: Shower or wipe down the outside (only!) with baby wipes ahead of time. Because, sure, "it is polite to clean-up before oral pay—noses, and faces, and mouths are going to be all up in there," says Finn. Just keep in mind that the vagina really is a self-cleaning machine and you don't need to wash *inside* the vagina (in fact, doing so can upset the vagina's microbiome and increase risk of infection). Instead, use a fragrance-free soap and wash the outside of your box. (Related: Stop Telling Me I Need to Buy Things for My Vagina).
2. Lick everywhere.
Oral sex is great because it's an opportunity for your clitoris to get the attention and praise it deserves. But there are so many other feel-good treasures between your legs. The labia and mons pubis can experience pleasure with some pressure and stimulation, according to Finn.
So, if you're giving oral to someone with a vulva she says, "It's okay if your nose is pressed to their bits—that pressure will probably feel good." She also recommends "using broader, less pinpointed strokes on the lips like you're licking an ice cream cone to start before focusing in on the clit."
Likewise, if your partner has a penis, "You don't have to go right for the penis, you can also fondle or lick the perineum, balls, and inner thigh," says Finn. (See More: 8 Male Erogenous Zones You're Probably Ignoring During Sex).
3. Get handsy.
In the classic 69 position the partner on top may need both arms to support their body, but if your hands are available use them. Not only will this give you a breather (literally), it'll also feel good. "Try caressing their inner thigh, their butts, their hips…wherever you know they like to be teased," suggests Finn.
If your partner has a vagina and enjoys penetration, you might try fingering them as your lick. Her suggestion? Try stimulating their G-spot—the spongy, textured patch along the front vaginal wall— with a come hither motion as you work them with your mouth. (Related: An Insider's Guide To Sleeping With Another Woman or Vulva-Owner For The First Time).
If your partner has a penis, grab the base of it with your hand to control how deep it's able to go in your throat. Or, try squirting some lube into your palm and giving them a handy while licking and sucking their balls. (BTW: Here's The Average Penis Size In Case You Were Curious).
"Using your hands is also a good option if you're close to climax and can't focus on performing oral or need to catch a breath," says Finn.
4. Grab some toys.
Vibrators, sex pillows, metal wands, dildos, kegel balls, anal beads, and butt plugs, "there's no limit to the 'extras' you can incorporate into the 69 position to make it even more pleasurable," says Queen. (See More: Your Guide To The 12 Main Types of Sex Toys).
But she especially recommends adding in a sex pillow like the Position Master (Buy It, £21.83
£26.99) or Deluxe Position Master with Cuffs (Buy It, £41.38 £51.99) to the 69 sex position mix. "These are speciality pillows and wedges that are made for sex that are fairly firm and can be used to support the bottom partner's head or neck," she explains. During the 69 sex position (and really any oral sex position) you want to pay pretty close attention to how your head is positioned and how much weight is on it to avoid injury, she says.
5. Incorporate your booty.
Butt plugs, tongues, and fingers are all fair game when 69-ing, so long as your partner gives their consent. If you get the green light, and the height match-up allows it, tease the nerve-dense ring around your partner's anus with your tongue. In general, "I don't recommend going from the butt hole back to the vulva because you don't want to move bacteria from butt back to the vulva, which could increase the risk of UTI and yeast infections," says Finn. "But if you are planning to perform or receive oral everywhere, just make sure the butt is cleaned really well beforehand, she says. (Have more rimming Qs? Check out this guide to anal sex.)
Another option: Use your fingers or an anal toy. Fingers and anal beads are best if your partner enjoys the sensation of an in-and-out motion. Prostate massagers are best if your partner is interested and has a penis. Butt plugs are best if your partner enjoys a full sensation. "[They're] also a good option for people who feel worried about their partner starting into their butt hole," says Finn. A cute little plug makes that a non-issue. (Related: These Are The Best Anal Sex Toys, According To Sexperts).
6. Switch it up with other 69 position variations.
If the classic 69 position isn't working for you, or you want to switch it up, give these three sex position variations a whirl.
If you're either turned off or triggered by being semi-suffocated by your parter's bits, Struyk recommends this iteration. "A side-lying version of this position where both partners are on their sides gives everyone a little more control over the intensity of what they're giving and receiving, and the opportunity to pull away if they start to feel suffocated," she says. Plus, unlike the OG 69 position, nobody has to do neck sit-ups or cat-cow for it to feel good.
How well this standing 69 position works will depend on the height of the bed and the partner who is doing the standing, says Finn. This less common, but easy-to-get-into 69 position variation requires one partner to lie on their back on the bed with their head over the edge of the mattress, while the other partner stands on the floor above them, straddling their mouth. "This gives the standing partner a lot of control over the rhythm, depth, and pressure," says Finn. ""It also opens up the lying partners throat which can reduce risk of gagging on the standings partners cock or dildo.""
Because of the vulnerability of the lying partner's position, make sure you establish a non-verbal safe word (like two taps on the outer thigh or raising a hand) so that if the bottom partner needs a breather they can communicate it, suggests Queen.
PSA: Don't Forget to Practice Safe Oral Sex
Sure, you might not be able to get pregnant from 69-ing, but STIs can be transmitted through oral sex. "Oral STIs can be spread to the genitals and genital STIs can be spread to the mouth through oral," says Quen. And unfortunately, oral sexual transmitted infections rarely cause more than a sore throat and most healthcare providers don't test for them unless you specifically request it. (Related: Everything You Should Know About Oral STIs But Probably Don't).
"Discuss sexual health histories with your partner to see when everyone has last been tested," says Struyk. When in doubt, protection is always your means of prevention. That means using dental dams, and condoms for oral on a penis, says Queen.