What Is the Coital Alignment Technique?

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Emily Jamea, Ph.D., is a sex therapist, author and podcast host. You can find her here each month to share her latest thoughts about sex.

Pick up a book on sexual positions, and even the most in-shape, flexible person is likely to feel intimidated by images that depict bodies twisted into pretzels in the name of sexual pleasure. If you have to read the fine print — or turn the book upside down — to make sense of the mechanics of a sexual position, let me save you some time — it’s probably not worth the trouble.

We know that sexual variety is one of the keys to long-term passion, but I promise: It doesn’t have to be complex. At the end of the day, most couples resort to just a few positions that bring them pleasure. But there is one spin on the missionary position that doesn’t receive enough attention, and it’s what I want to highlight in today’s column – the coital alignment technique.

What is the coital alignment technique?

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The coital alignment technique, or CAT for short, is one of the best ways for heterosexual couples to experience simultaneous physical pleasure and deep emotional intimacy.

The position is simple: The female partner lies on her back as the male partner inserts himself. Once inserted, he moves his body up slightly so that their pubic bones are aligned. Depending on how tall he is, his head may be slightly above hers so that her head is more aligned with his chest. Then – and here’s the secret – rather than thrusting in and out, couples rhythmically grind against each other.

Let’s explore why the coital alignment technique is so pleasurable.

  1. Enhanced Clitoral Stimulation. Most women need external clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm. Traditionally, this is achieved through manual stimulation of the clitoris or through oral sex. The coital alignment technique, however, offers clitoral stimulation from the pressure of male partner’s pubic bone. This is especially wonderful for women for whom pressure on the tip of the clitoris alone is too much. The pubic bone offers a wider plane of pressure and stimulation that many women find especially pleasurable.
  2. Male Ejaculatory Control. Men typically reach orgasm within two to ten minutes of rapid stimulation. Since the coital alignment technique is slow and reduces sensation on the head of the penis because the male partner is slowly grinding rather than rapidly thrusting in and out, many men find that they can last longer before reaching orgasm.
  3. Narrows the Orgasm Gap. Many heterosexual couples get caught in what’s known as “the orgasm gap,” or the difference in the length of time that it takes for the man versus the woman to reach climax. Since the CAT extends the time before the male partner climaxes while focusing on clitoral stimulation of the female partner, couples are more likely to orgasm around the same time.
  4. Mutual Pleasure. Unlike some other sexual positions that may prioritize one partner’s pleasure over another, CAT is designed to be mutually pleasurable. The synchronized movements create a shared experience, fostering a deeper connection between partners. The emphasis on mutual pleasure can lead to a more satisfying sexual relationship as well as increased emotional intimacy.
  5. Intimacy and Connection. The coital alignment technique encourages couples to be more attuned to each other’s bodies and sexual cues. The intentional focus on synchronization and alignment fosters a sense of connection and intimacy. Furthermore, being face-to-face allows for eye contact, which significantly deepens emotional connection.
  6. Extended Intercourse. Couples are often guilty of rushing through sex, which can lead to unsatisfying encounters. The coital alignment technique offers slower, more deliberate movements, which can lead to longer-lasting intercourse. This gives couples more time to explore each other sexually, which also fosters emotional intimacy.
  7. Accessibility and Comfort. You do not have to be a contortionist to enjoy the coital alignment technique. In fact, it’s known for its accessibility and comfort, making it suitable for individuals of all body types of people with physical limitations. The coital alignment technique allows couples to focus on the connection rather than the distraction of impractical maneuvers.

The coital alignment technique is one of the simplest, yet most profound ways to enhance pleasure and foster emotional intimacy at the same time. By prioritizing clitoral stimulation while reducing friction on the head of the penis, the coital alignment technique narrows the orgasm gap and allows couples to mutually build pleasure.

Through synchronized movements, the coital alignment technique invites couples to pay closer attention to other, more subtle sexual cues which serves to enhance arousal and build connection. Couples who are open to exploring new avenues to intimacy may find that incorporating the coital alignment technique brings about a renewed sense of connection, pleasure, and overall satisfaction — without any acrobatics.

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