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5 Ways to Have Sex Without Penetration

If you’re looking for some ways to mix things up between the sheets then look no further than these five ways to have sex without penetration. Non-penetrative sex has many benefits including prioritizing pleasure and helping us get to know our bodies better, plus abstaining from intercourse is a helpful option on fertile days for those of us who are preventing pregnancy naturally…

This article is also available in Spanish 

What is sex without penetration? 

Non-penetrative sex or sex without penetration is a type of sexual activity that doesn’t involve putting a penis, sex toys, fingers, or anything else inside the vagina or the anus. There are many reasons people choose to have sex without penetration, including sexual preference, if they experience pain during sex, or to be intimate without risking pregnancy.

At Natural Cycles we recognize all types of sex as valid because everyone’s pleasure is important no matter how it’s experienced. Now.. let’s take a look at some types of non-penetrative sex.

1. Touching

Keeping pleasure hands-only can be a great way to refresh your sex life. While many of us may think of touching as a type of foreplay, it can be so much more than that. Focussing on touching gives you a chance to explore each other’s bodies - perhaps exploring often overlooked areas - in a way you might not do if your end goal is always penetrative sex. 

Looking to spice things up? Try treating each other to a massage or take things to the shower to unlock some next-level steamy action. You can also buy intimate moisturizers and lubricants designed to enhance the experience further. Touching is a useful way to build trust, and mutual masturbation can help you to discover what you both enjoy too.

2. Oral sex 

When it comes to having sex without intercourse, oral sex is a popular option. A recent study found that 86% of women and 87% of men have had oral intercourse at some point in their lives. While you can’t get pregnant from oral sex, there is still a risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection. Using a condom or dental dam can keep you protected. 

Since most female orgasms happen through clitoral stimulation, oral sex is a helpful way to heighten pleasure without skipping on intimacy, but if it’s not for you that’s OK too! Oral sex is a personal preference, some people may prefer performing it to receiving it and vice versa.

3. Non-penetrative sex toys

The cliche of a giant pink dildo is a thing of the past. There are loads of sex toys out there that are designed specifically for pleasure without penetration. Whether you’re into wands, bullets, gels, or rings, there are plenty of options out there, complete with sleek, sexy, and discreet designs. 

You can use sex toys on your own or with a partner - it’s up to you! Make sure you keep these intimate objects clean to protect yourself and others. You also have the option to use condoms and lubes alongside sex toys if you want to.

4. Frottage

Frottage is another word for rubbing or grinding together. You can do this naked or with your clothes on. While dry humping may have a bit of a cringe factor, let’s not overlook this one just yet! 

Frottage can be a fun way to experience pleasure without having to opt for penetrative sex. You can stop things from getting well, erm, dry by mixing things up and bringing in other types of play too. Did you know some sex toys are so powerful they’re designed to be used through clothing? Or if you choose to do it naked, you can experiment with lube too.

5. Phone sex 

Last but not least let’s talk about phone sex. Whether you’re doing it long distance, or use sexting as a kind of foreplay during the day, phone sex is an imaginative and penetrative-free way to feel closer when you’re not together.

Doing it down the line builds communication and creates a safe space to explore untapped fantasies. If you want to forget your hangups, phone sex may even make it easier to role-play or express your desires without the pressure of being there in person. Whatever pushes your buttons! 

Pain during penetrative sex

There are a number of reasons people can find penetrative sex painful. If you’re uncomfortable, experience vaginal dryness, or have a condition such as vulvodynia it can make penetration (and other types of sex) unenjoyable.

Experiencing pain during any type of sex is a good reason to talk to a healthcare professional. However, taking a step back and trying out these other types of sex can alleviate the pressure and may help make sex more enjoyable. Most of all it’s important that you and your partner are communicative about what does and doesn’t feel good. Clear communication is essential when it comes to giving and receiving sexual consent, and is an important cornerstone in any relationship.

Be ready for a red day

Some people choose to use fertility awareness as a form of birth control, this involves abstaining from penetrative sex on fertile days. Similarly, if you’re using NC° Birth Control to prevent pregnancy then you’ll already know you need to use protection or abstain from penetrative sex on red days. However, that doesn’t mean you must abstain from ALL sexual activity. 

We hope this article can help you get imaginative during your fertile days. It’s important to make sure that if you do practice non-penetrative sex, you keep sperm away from the vagina, by keeping hands and sex toys clean. 

Ready to try hormone-free birth control?

At Natural Cycles we’re passionate about ending the stigma around reproductive health, whether that’s through sex education or publishing the latest research into female health.

The Natural Cycles app is the first of its kind to be FDA cleared as birth control in the US and CE marked in Europe. It uses the science of basal body temperature paired with an algorithm that learns the pattern of your cycle so you can prevent pregnancy completely hormone-free. Haven’t signed up yet? Why not find out if Natural Cycles could work for you?

Did you enjoy reading this article?

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Jen on the roof terrace at Natural Cycles headquarters.

Written By

Jennifer Gray

Jennifer Gray is an award-winning writer with more than five years’ experience covering reproductive topics ranging from birth control to planning pregnancy. She is passionate about providing women with accurate information grounded in science they can use to take charge of their own health - while also dispelling myths that exist within the field of women’s health. She holds a Master of Science from the University of Edinburgh and currently lives in Ireland.

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