Your guide to sex without penetration

7 ways to have outercourse

There are as many reasons to have sex without penetration (also known as outercourse) as there are people who want to have sex without penetration. Maybe you or your partner are recovering from an infection, maybe you’re out of condoms, maybe you’re practicing fertility awareness and it’s a fertile day, maybe penetration doesn’t feel good to you or actually hurts, or maybe you just love non-penetrative sex!

The point is that, despite what you may have learned from middle school sex ed and/or porn, sex is more than penetration and doesn’t have to involve penetration at all. Penetration is not the end goal of sex. You get to decide what sex is for you. So here are 7 super-hot sexy time things you can do that don’t involve penetration:

1. Frottage (or dry humping/grinding/tribbing)

Frottage is basically rubbing up on your partner’s body, with or without clothes on. It can be genital-to-genital rubbing or rubbing against your partner’s leg, for example. If you haven’t done this since your early days of sexual exploration, you’re missing out.

2. Using toys

If you don’t have a great vibrator, make this the year that you invest in one. Some vibrators are designed for insertion but don’t have to be used that way. You can exclusively stick to all those good bits on the outside. Others, like wand-style vibrators, which tend to pack a more powerful punch, aren’t generally designed for penetration, or at least aren’t super ergonomic for insertion.

But also vibrators are just the tip of the iceberg of sex toys. There’s so much more out there to explore, both to use on your own and to use with a partner. (Here are tips on how to make sure your toys are clean and sanitized.)

3. Mutual masturbation

Masturbating side by side may sound awkward if you’ve never tried it, but it definitely doesn’t have to be. It can be huge a turn-on to watch your partner applying their own expert touch, plus you might just pick up a few tips about what they like and how they like it. Mutual masturbation is also a great way to practice safer sex since it doesn’t involve skin-to-skin contact and no fluids are being exchanged (just be aware that if semen does get on your vulva or inside your vagina, you can get pregnant, even if there was no penetration).

4. Hands only

Switch up the mutual masturbation by enjoying each other’s touch. There’s plenty to do with hands that doesn’t involve penetration—just don’t forget the lube. You can also explore nipple stimulation and other types of sensation play with your hands.

5. Oral

Sure, oral can be great foreplay, but it doesn’t have to be the opening act. It can be the star of the show! Have trouble enjoying oral sex? We can help with that. Keep in mind that you can’t get pregnant from oral sex, but you could get an STI.

6. Skype sex

As many long-distance couples will tell you, it is definitely possible to have sex while you’re thousands of miles away from your partner. If you’re not ready to go all the way with Skype, say it with a sext. Or kick it old school and have phone sex on your burner (we can help with the dirty talk, don’t worry).

7. Hot makeout sesh

Sometimes when penetration is the endgame, things like kissing get rushed or overlooked. But there are erogenous zones all over your body. A slow exploration of all of your partner’s hot spots can be incredibly sexy, and indeed, can be the sex itself.

Written by Lauren Kernan, MA

Lauren Kernan is the Director of Content and UX Strategy for Bedsider and Abortion Finder. In her spare time, she can be found sewing or starting and giving up on various other crafts.