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6 Non-Penetrative Sex Ideas

Vicky Davis

Reviewed by Vicky Davis, FNP

Written by Geoffrey Whittaker

Published 06/07/2023

Looking for non-penetrative sex ideas? We rounded up a few to explore.

Most of us remember our first heavy makeout session. Maybe it was on a couch or in the backseat of a car, but wherever you got hot and heavy that first time, we’re pretty sure it was the most exciting day of your life — up until that point.

Unfortunately, age can ruin great things. Nowadays, most people aren’t the least bit interested in dry humping when safe forms of anal penetration, intercourse and other “traditional” forms of sex are on the table.

But what if they’re off the table? What happens when you or your partner are unable to connect the way the drawings depicted in sex ed so many years ago?

Here’s a hot take: maybe it’s for the better. Missionary sex? Boring. Sexual penetration? So last season.

There are any number of ways to swap bodily fluids, connect with your partner, achieve orgasm and find satisfaction in intimacy without putting a penis in a hole — and we’re here to support the exploration of those options.

We collected six great ideas to get things running in top gear without penetration. Read on to learn about the benefits of non-penetrative sex, along with some great ways to expand the definition of sex in your own relationships.

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Benefits of Non-Penetrative Sex (aka Sex Without Intercourse)

Whether you admit it to your friends or not, sexual intimacy is an important aspect of any relationship. When it’s good, it can greatly enhance the emotional bond between partners. When it’s not good, however, it can do just the opposite.

Unfortunately, sometimes penetrative sex just isn’t an option. 

A couple may want to or need to enjoy non-penetrative sex for many reasons, including:

  • Variety and exploration. Non-penetrative sex allows couples to explore different forms of sexual intimacy beyond traditional penetrative sex. A study published in the Journal of Sex Research found that sexual variety was positively associated with sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction in both men and women.

  • Physical limitations. Some individuals may have physical limitations that make penetrative sex difficult or uncomfortable, such as pelvic pain (dyspareunia) due to infections, diseases, anatomical complications or conditions like vaginismus. In these cases, non-penetrative sex can provide a satisfying alternative.

  • Complications of aging. Getting old sucks, and for many people, aging can also make all elements of intercourse more difficult. Alternatives can keep you and your partner satisfied without pain or discomfort.

  • Pregnancy prevention. For couples that aren’t ready or willing to use hormonal contraception or barrier methods, non-penetrative sex can be a way to engage in sexual activity without the risk of pregnancy. Risk of pregnancy can be a serious fear for anyone, but a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that adolescents who engaged in non-penetrative sex were less likely to report pregnancy or use of emergency contraception than those who engaged in penetrative sex.

  • Emotional intimacy. Non-penetrative sex can foster emotional intimacy and connection between partners. A study published in the Journal of Sex Research found that intimate behaviors such as cuddling, kissing and oral sex were associated with higher levels of relationship satisfaction and commitment.

  • Sexual dysfunction. For individuals experiencing premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction (ED) or difficulty achieving orgasm, non-penetrative sex can provide a satisfying alternative while skirting issues of sexual function.

  • Risk of contracting STIs. Yes, the health class pamphlets are true: vaginal fluids and other lubricating fluids produced by our bodies can contain transmissible STIs (sexually transmitted infections). Sex without penetration doesn’t negate these risks entirely, but it can certainly reduce them in intimate relationships with both vaginal and anal intercourse.

  • Satisfaction. Statistics show that only about 25 percent of women can consistently orgasm from sexual intercourse. So if you’ve been focused on vaginal intercourse like most people in heterosexual relationships, alternative genital stimulation may help your partner feel the love too.

These circumstances are when non-penetrative sex can be a healthy and enjoyable option for couples that aren’t able to get all of their intimate needs met from just one type of sex.

Communication and experimentation are what really matter, after all — for each individual and the partnership as a whole. So maybe it’s time to be adventurous and try something new — something besides getting it in.

6 Non-Penetrative Sex Ideas 

Non-penetrative sex acts are about the connection and intensity of skin contact and other forms of intimacy without actually going “in.”

Exchanging bodily fluids is definitely still possible, as are orgasms. You just have to think outside the box (yes, literally).

Ready to think big? Here are some tips to help get your mental gears turning.

Making Out 

Call us tweenage losers all you want, but the science doesn’t lie. Kissing and making out are associated with higher sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction in both men and women. And while it may lead to dry humping and other types of sexual stimulation, it’s a great first step to getting both parties turned on and ready for what’s next.

So spend some extra time using your lips on your partner and finding new ways to make them moan. After all, kissing isn’t limited to lip-on-lip contact.

Mutual Masturbation 

Controversial opinion incoming: you don’t even need to touch your partner to push them to climax. They can do it themselves while watching you do it to yourself at the same time.

Mutual masturbation is a great way to get exactly the stimulation you want while watching your partner do the same. A little casual skin contact — a hand on their thigh, for instance — can really dial up the intensity.

Mutual masturbation also has arguably the lowest risk for pregnancy of anything on this list and only a slight risk of disease transmission. These minor risks disappear completely if you mutually masturbate during phone sex.

Oral Sex

One of the best avenues to direct penile or clitoral stimulation without penetration is a little trick known as oral sex. Yes, you’re probably aware of this not-so-secret form of sexual contact, but after penile-vaginal sex, eating out your partner or giving them a blowjob is pretty great.

We don’t feel the need to elaborate much further on this one — that’s time better spent building some jaw stamina.

Massages

Sometimes your partner takes a long time to relax because their muscles (no, the other ones) are tight.

Stress, athletic injuries and other side effects of daily life can make us become tense and knotted. And while an appointment with a masseuse can solve the problem, it’s also a problem you can DIY with a (totally legal) happy ending.

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Roleplaying and Fantasy

Sometimes, it’s not the activities themselves that get us off but the context in which they’re done. Sex is always more exciting in a new place, for instance, but the opportunities don’t stop when you trade out the bedroom for the kitchen table.

Trying roleplay and fantasy activities with a partner doesn’t really require penetration — and they can incorporate any of the other ideas on this list. Talk to your partner about the sexy teacher fantasies and doctor’s office roleplays tucked away in your brain for solo time. They may add some of their own to the pool of ideas, and suddenly, you’ll be in possession of a month’s worth of new activities.

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Bondage

Bondage isn’t for everyone, but studies have shown it’s something more people are talking about these days. More so than anything else on this list, we have to caution that communication is essential when bringing bondage into the bedroom/office/vestibule of your choice.

But a little light restraint, a blindfold and anything else your partner consents to can heighten all the sensations in new ways — even without penetration.

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Having Fun with Non-Penetrative Sex

Non-penetrative sex positions can offer a variety of options for couples to explore intimacy without the need for penetration.

The missionary position, cowgirl position, spooning position, and face-sitting position are all great options for men to stimulate their partner's clitoris or breasts and achieve mutual satisfaction.

It is important to communicate with your partner and find what works best for both of you.

Other important communications that should be on your to-do list:

  • If you’re struggling with ED, you may want to ask a healthcare provider about erectile dysfunction treatments.

  • Premature ejaculation can cause men to feel self-conscious or anxious about intimacy, so talk to someone about treatment options if you’re finishing faster than you’d like to.

  • Penetration is unnecessary for sexual satisfaction if you’re creative, adventurous and willing to try new things.

Ready to try new things yourself? Consider ED treatment options from Hims, like our hard mint chewable ED meds. And if you’re struggling with sexual performance issues, consider talking to a healthcare professional.

Regardless of why non-penetrative sex is important to you, though, don’t be ashamed. Be present, be loving, be open and be ready for some of the best sex of your life.

7 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Sussex Publishers. (n.d.). Older lovers say they want regular sex-but not intercourse. Psychology Today. Retrieved April 24, 2023, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/all-about-sex/202107/older-lovers-say-they-want-regular-sex-not-intercourse.
  2. Wlodarski, R., & Dunbar, R. I. (2013). Examining the possible functions of kissing in romantic relationships. Archives of sexual behavior, 42(8), 1415–1423. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4487821/.
  3. Sussex Publishers. (n.d.). Sex without intercourse: A hot option for lovers of all ages. Psychology Today. Retrieved April 24, 2023, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/all-about-sex/201409/sex-without-intercourse-hot-option-lovers-all-ages.
  4. Fact: "unconventional" sex is actually very common - psychology Today. (n.d.). Retrieved April 24, 2023, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/all-about-sex/201810/fact-unconventional-sex-is-actually-very-common.
  5. Fortenberry, J. D., McFarlane, M., Bleakley, A., Bull, S., Fishbein, M., Grimley, D. M., Malotte, C. K., & Stoner, B. P. (2002). Relationships of stigma and shame to gonorrhea and HIV screening. American journal of public health, 92(3), 378–381. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447083/.
  6. Hensel, D. J., Fortenberry, J. D., & Orr, D. P. (2008). Variations in coital and noncoital sexual repertoire among adolescent women. The Journal of adolescent health : official publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine, 42(2), 170–176. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3824954/.
  7. Muise A, Schimmack U, Impett EA. Sexual frequency predicts greater well-being, but more is not always better. Soc Psychol Personal Sci. 2017;8(8):875-884. https://globalnews.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/sex-study.pdf.
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Vicky Davis, FNP

Dr. Vicky Davis is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over 20 years of experience in clinical practice, leadership and education. 

Dr. Davis' expertise include direct patient care and many years working in clinical research to bring evidence-based care to patients and their families. 

She is a Florida native who obtained her master’s degree from the University of Florida and completed her Doctor of Nursing Practice in 2020 from Chamberlain College of Nursing

She is also an active member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

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