The word ‘intercourse’ might rocket you right back to that oh-so-awkward Birds and The Bees talk. But do your sex life a favor and don’t let one cheek-burning memory keep you from reaping the pleasure-rewards of its often overlooked cousin: outercourse.
“Outercourse is seriously under-rated that is accessible to any pairing, no matter gender, genital configuration, or sexual orientation,” says Lisa Finn, a sex educator. Below, she and two other sex educators explain what outercourse is, why it’s so damn pleasurable, and how to reap its (orgasmic) rewards.
What is Outercourse?
As with all words in the sexicon (that’s lexicon fused with sex), the definition may vary based on who you ask. But according to sex educator Searah Deysach, the widely accepted definition of outercourse says that it’s any sex act that does *not* include penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth.
“While sometimes outercourse is thought of as grazing the entrance of a hole, or teasing the external genitals,” says Finn, “it also includes any touching, stimulation, or erogenous zone pleasuring that doesn’t include penetration.” Noted!
Worth mentioning: Because the definition of outercourse is so expansive, simply deciding to explore outercourse with your partner(s) is not sufficient. You need to nail down exactly what that means to each of you before you get going, to make sure you’re on the same page!
Types Of Outercourse Sex Acts
Indeed, there are a wide variety of sex that fall under the ‘outercourse’ umbrella. Any of the following might be included, according to Finn and Deysach:
- Kissing, licking, and biting anywhere on the body
- Erotic massage, tantric yoga, ad sensual dance
- Dry humping, grinding, frottage, and scissoring
- Nipple stimulation with hand, fingers, clamps, and vibes
- Manual genital stimulation
- External genital stimulation with hand or toys
- Masturbation and mutual masturbation
- Titty fucking, pussy jobs, and cheek-hobs
- External anal stimulation with tongues, hands, toys, and teeth
Certain types of kink and BDSM acts qualify, too, says Finn. One type of kink play known as sensation play is especially relevant here. Sensation play involves electrifying your senses to heighten arousal. It includes anything from teasing your neck with a feather to using an ice cube, to (consensual) spanking, caning, and whipping.
“While dipping a toe into BDSM is not a must for engaging in outercourse, acknowledging that certain kink acts can be included encourages creativity,” says Finn. Understandable!
The Benefits of Outercourse
There are many reasons someone(s) might want to sexperiment with outercourse.
It helps expand our understanding of sex.
The existence of the word outercourse helps expand society’s narrow definition of sex.
“So often we see vaginal penetration as THE sex act,” and everything else as just foreplay, or before play,” says Finn. “In doing so we ignore all the other ways people can experience pleasure,” she says.
Calling sex acts like dry-humping, hand-stuff, ad kissing ‘outercourse’ suggests that the shebang can start and there, and still qualifies as sex, she says.
It feels good!
Think back to the time you and your high-school honey humped your hearts out on the basement couch (just me?). Felt good, right?
That’s because all sorts of nerve-dense regions like the pubic mound, anal opening, labia, clitoris, perineum, and penis head were likely indirectly (or directly) stimulated, says Finn.
Outercourse says that feel-good sex acts like dry-humping, grinding, kissing, and erotic massage don’t have to be left behind with your teenage ways. “Sometimes people experience embarrassment for enjoying sex acts they enjoyed when they were younger, but outercourse helps normalize those acts for all ages,” she says.
Some people may even orgasm!
For vulva-owners in particular, outercourse may actually have a higher chance of leading to orgasm than intercourse, according to Finn. You might be surprised to hear that, but data proves it!
One study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy found that only 18 percent of vagina-havers can orgasm from vaginal penetration alone. However, the study also found that 37 percent of vagina-havers NEED clitoral stimulation to orgasm and that an additional 36 percent WANT it.
“Generally speaking, the clit is the main erogenous zone for people with vulvas and outercourse that includes genital rubbing, humping, and toy play all stimulate it,” says Finn.
The risk of unwanted pregnancy is very low.
With P-in-V off the table, “pregnancy is very low risk,” says Deysach.
That said, pregnancy is possible anytime sperm are introduced to an egg. “So if one partner ejaculates near a vagina, there is a slight risk of pregnancy,” she says. Ditto goes if one partner ejaculates into their own hand and then fingers their vagina-having.
Being diligent about washing hands and toys from body fluids between sex acts will reduce the risk.
It may be a safer-sex act.
An STI can be transmitted anytime there is body fluid exchange or skin-to-skin contact. That means that STI transmission is a risk for certain outercourse acts like naked scissoring, grinding, humping, oral, and manual sex. “Yes, STIs can be transmitted during oral sex,” says Finn.
That said, if one or all partners currently have an STI and still want to have sex, outercourse sex acts like kissing, nipple stimulation, mutual masturbation, and sensual dance may be on the table.
“To reduce STI transmission during outercourse sex acts that involve body-fluid exchange or skin-to-skin contact, it’s best to use a barrier like a condom, dental dam, finger cots, or gloves,” says Finn.
It may be allowed for people practicing abstinence.
Just as the definition of outercourse varies definer-to-definer, so does the definition of abstinence.
For those who define abstinence as the avoidance of penetrative intercourse, outercourse is allowed! Meaning, partnered and multi-partnered sexual pleasure is still at their disposal.
How to Use The Cowgirl for Outercourse
“Vibrators make great outercourse tools,” says Deysach. “Not only can they stimulate clitorises, but penises, testicles, breasts, and nipples, but they’re also fun,” she says. That’s true for all kinds of vibrators—including wand vibrators like the Le Wand, palm vibrators like The Point, and bullet vibrators like The Bullet. But it’s especially true for rideable vibrators...and no rideable vibrator is more iconic than The Cowgirl.
A saddle-shaped sex toy, The Cowgirl is primarily designed to be straddled and enjoyed rider-on-top style. There are two non-penetrative attachments that can be secured to the device—the Rawhide and the Bareback—which are designed to transmit high-intensity vibration to the rider’s external bits.
Finn suggests adding lubricant to the attachments and your body before you climb on board. “The external genital skin has no lubricant,” she explains. “And lubrication is what ensures that the session is going to be fully pleasurable and not lead to friction or chafing.” Because the attachments are made out of body-safe silicone, which is not compatible with silicone lube, you’ll want to reach for a water or oil-based product like b-Vibe Natural Water-Based Lubricant or Coconut Love Oil Lubricant instead.
One fun way to use The Cowgirl for an outercourse sex session with your partner is to climb aboard, while your partnered watches nearby, touching themselves as they do. Another option is to have your partner stand or kneel in front of you while you ride, giving your mouth access to their chest, ear, mouth, or genitals.