What's ''69''?

Originally Published: March 22, 1996 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: December 14, 2012
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Dear Alice,

What does the term "sixty-nine" refer to?

— Sexually Experienced But Illiterate

Dear Sexually Experienced But Illiterate,

Sixty-nine, or 69, refers to a group of sex positions where two people simultaneously perform oral sex on each other by aligning themselves so that each person’s mouth is near the other’s genitals. The position gets its name from the way participants are mutually inverted like the numerals 6 and 9 — hence, 69. While many people think of 69 with one partner on their back and the other on top, it can also be performed with both partners on their sides.

Does this sound like something you’d be interested in doing or have already done? Like with any sexual position, 69 is not everyone’s thing. First, some people don’t like to give or receive oral sex for personal reasons so it’d be good to ask your partner before trying this out. Second, there’s the logistics. Sixty-nine can take some coordination and maneuvering to get comfortable. Being on top could get a little tiring trying for some as you may need to keep propped up. In which case, the side-by-side configuration might be more comfortable. Other people love it because it’s reciprocal as you’re both giving and receiving pleasure. The trick is to keep experimenting until you figure out what bedroom moves work best for the both of you. One move to consider, though, is practicing safer sex. You can protect yourself and your partner(s) from oral infections during 69 by using a latex barrier such as a condom or dental dam. If you are a student at Columbia you can learn more about where to get safer sex supplies by using the interactive safer sex supplies map.

Alice