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Alternatives to penetrative sex

Penetrative sex usually refers to vaginal/internal genital, oral, and anal penetration. There are lots of sexual experiences that feel good for you and your partners that do not involve penetrative sex. This is sometimes called ‘outercourse’.

Movies, TV, and porn often feature penetrative sex, but penetration doesn’t have to be the main course! Be creative and explore to see what works for you.

Experimenting and playing with different kinds of touch can increase pleasure and teach you a lot about what you and your partners like.

Some examples include:

  • Kissing
  • Hand jobs/fingering
  • Self pleasure - masturbation, mutual masturbation
  • Dry humping (or ‘frottage’)- sexual rubbing without  penetration
  • Online sex
  • Phone sex/sexting
  • Nipple play
  • Tantric sex – a practice that involves slower touch, massage or meditation, with a focus on breath, connection, and sensations

You can also experiment with different kinds of sex toys.

There are many reasons to choose non-penetrative ways of being sexual. Some aren’t ready or comfortable with penetrative sex, or may feel more confident with non-penetrative sex. Non-penetrative sex also has low or no risk of transmitting STIs, so some choose these to reduce risk or while waiting for STI test results or treatment.


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