Couple happily cuddling in bed together

Outercourse: sex without penetration

Outercourse can mean different things to different people. Some people consider outercourse as any sex play without sexual intercourse, where a man inserts his penis into a woman’s vagina.

For others, outercourse means sex play without any penetration (oral, anal, vaginal).

How does outercourse prevent pregnancy?
It prevents pregnancy by keeping sperm outside of the vagina.

How do I have outercourse?
There are many sexual activities with outercourse that don’t involve sexual intercourse:

  • Kissing
    You can explore kissing different body parts.
  • Masturbation
    You can give yourself pleasure by touching your own genitals. You can give your partner pleasure by touching their genitals. You can watch your partner masturbate or masturbate while your partner watches, which is a great way to learn what kind of touching you each like.
  • Rubbing
    You can rub your body with your partner’s body. Many couples find it pleasurable and can even orgasm when they rub their genitals together. Body-to-body rubbing is sometimes also called grinding, dry humping, or frottage.
  • Acting out sexual fantasies
    You can share or act out fantasies that turn you on with your partner. Or perhaps you might want to watch a sexy film or read a sexy story together.
  • Using sex toys
    You can use a vibrator or dildo to explore and caress your body or your partner’s body. If you want to share your toy with your partner, and you’re using a toy to go into a vagina or an anus, it is important to put a condom on the toy. For each partner, use a new condom on your sex toy.
  • Oral sex
    You can explore your partner’s genitals by using your mouth. You won’t get pregnant by performing or receiving oral sex, but you can pass on an infection. If you’re a guy, you can prevent passing on an infection by using a condom. If you’re a girl, you can prevent passing on an infection by using plastic wrap (or a condom cut into a square) to cover your genitals.
  • Anal sex
    You can explore your partner’s buttocks, anus, and rectum by touching them with your fingers, mouth, genitals, or with toys. You won’t get pregnant having anal sex, but it’s even easier to pass on an infection. Using a condom or to cover your fingers or genitals can greatly reduce the risk of passing on an infection.

How often do I have to use this method to prevent pregnancy?
Outercourse can prevent pregnancy as long as you and your partner stick to having outercourse and not sexual intercourse (when a man inserts his penis into a woman’s vagina).

How effective is outercourse at preventing pregnancy?
If you and your partner perform outercourse correctly, the chances of getting pregnant are almost 0 per cent. With anal sex and rubbing your genitals with your partners there is a chance that semen or pre-ejaculate can get into the vagina. So if you want to be 100 per cent sure, use a condom.

The only factor involved in practising outercourse is that both you and your partner must agree on practising it within your relationship. Read more about negotiating sex here.

Are there benefits?
Outercourse is free, has no side effects, and can be a pleasurable way to have safer sex especially when no semen and vaginal fluids are exchanged.

For women, outercourse can be helpful to learn how to have orgasms. Many women don’t get orgasms from vaginal stimulation (or sexual intercourse) alone, but from clitoral stimulation. For men, outercourse allows them to be sexual without having the pressure to perform during sexual intercourse. So for couples, outercourse can be a great way to learn about each other’s bodies and give each other pleasure, without the worry of getting pregnant.

Are there disadvantages?
Couples may have a difficult time stopping outercourse from becoming sexual intercourse. So that when they do have sexual intercourse, it can be unprotected, resulting in unplanned pregnancy or an STD.
Even if couples stick to outercourse, there is still a chance that sperm will come into the vagina.

Protection against STDs?
No.
Outercourse can greatly reduce your risk of getting an STD, but it doesn’t guarantee it. During oral and anal sex, there is an exchange of bodily fluids between couples, which increases your risk of getting an STD. Some STDs like herpes and HPV can be passed on simply by skin-to-skin contact. So while the risk of getting an STD is quite low, even with kissing or rubbing you’ve still got a risk of getting an STD. If you’re worried about getting an STD, use a condom or another barrier method to protect yourself.

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