In the quest to decipher the eternal enigma that is the female genitalia, men have scrambled to find the one sex position guaranteed to bring a woman to orgasm. This has led to a spate of headlines screaming about, predictably, "the one sex position guaranteed to give her an orgasm." (Including, yes, ones we have authored). The latest entry in this genre? The British tabloid the Daily Star, which recently interviewed a "sexpert" (a term liberally used to apply to any attractive woman who has seen an episode of Sex and the City) who declared that there was one position guaranteed to bring a woman to orgasm: missionary.
"It’s one of the few positions that allows for thorough internal stimulation as well as external stimulation—without the need of any additional fingers or toys," Annabelle Knight told the Daily Star.
As a person with a vagina who has been on the receiving end of a penis on at least one occasion (I mean, not to brag or anything, but it's true), I feel uniquely qualified to take issue with Knight’s hypothesis. Few women will ever specifically request missionary, unless she's just had a burrito or is getting over the flu or something and doesn't want to be on top. And even if she does, it's likely not going to bring her to orgasm without requiring any other types of stimulation.
Let's be clear about this right off the bat: Every vagina is unique, and every woman likes something different in bed. One woman’s yuck is another woman’s yum, or put another way, one woman’s missionary is another woman’s "finger up the butt whilst reciting the starting lineup of the 1984 Minnesota Twins." There is a tremendous range in what women like in bed, and that variety is precisely what makes sex so interesting (and just, like, fun and cool).
But there’s quite a bit of data to suggest that when it comes to actually bringing a woman to orgasm, plain old penis-in-vagina intercourse just ain’t gonna do the trick. According to a 2015 Cosmopolitan survey, only 57 percent of heterosexual women have orgasms in bed, as opposed to 95 percent of their male partners. The reason for this “orgasm gap,” according to experts? Not enough clitoral stimulation. While statistics vary, researchers say that only a small minority of women can come from penetration alone. In fact, one 2009 study said 75 percent of women can only reach orgasm with a combination of penetration and clitoral stimulation (a.k.a., their partners using their fingers or tongues), while 10 to 15 percent said it’s impossible for them to have an orgasm under any circumstances.
Now, it’s true that some sex positions do encourage clitoral stimulation, with missionary being one of them. (I probably don’t need to draw a diagram for you to explain why this is.) But hammering into your wife’s vagina like it owes you money, on the off-chance that your pubic bone will come into contact with her clitoris? Yeah, that’s not an effective or efficient way to bring a woman to orgasm. Most research suggests that women require a variation of different types of strokes at varying speeds and pressures to be brought to orgasm, so mindlessly and repetitively rubbing her clitoris like you’re trying to erase a spelling error in your grade-school three-ring binder is not gonna cut it, sorry.
In the end, the best way to make a woman come isn’t to rely on one single sex position as a Hail Mary and just cross yourself and hope for the best. It requires time, energy, and above all else, attention. It requires listening to what she wants and knowing the difference between an “Um, what the f— are you doing down there?!?!” and a “Wow, what the f— are you doing down there?!?!?” And let’s be real: It probably requires using your hand, your mouth, a sex toy, or some combination of the three. Just remember: While there are a million awesome sex positions out there, there’s only one that's foolproof, and it’s asking her for what she wants, when she wants it.
This article originally appeared on Men's Health