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Non-penetrative sex (also known as outercourse, dry sex, and dry humping) is sexual activity without vaginal, anal, or oral penetration, as opposed to penetrative aspects of intercourse, anal sex, or oral sex. The terms mutual masturbation and frottage are also used, but with slightly different emphases. NPS and outercourse are rather new terms, which is why such practices are sometimes still called "intercourse". The term "outercourse" is something of a misnomer, as it contrasts "outer" with "inter" but the "inter" in "intercourse" means "between two people". It does not describe being inside or outside of the body.

It is less likely that bodily fluids will be exchanged, and so outercourse is often considered a practice of safer sex, as well as of birth control (see below for exceptions). Outercourse in preparation for intercourse can form part of foreplay.

Types of non-penetrative sexual activity

Non-penetrative sex includes but is not limited to the following examples:

Exclusively non-penetrative
  • Axillary intercourse (slang: bagpiping, in reference to the underarm manner in which bagpipes are played; "directing traffic", or "pit-wank", a variant of the term "tit-wank") is a sexual variant where the penis is inserted in the other person's armpit.
  • Erotic massage, rubbing all over, with or without oil. May be intensified when combined with deep breathing.
  • Handjob, stimulating the penis with the hand.
  • Footjob, stimulating genitals with the feet.
  • Frot, penis-to-penis rubbing.
  • Intercrural sex, also known as interfemoral intercourse, which is a type of irrumation, where one partner places a phallic object or penis between the other partner's thighs.
  • Intergluteal sex, which is a type of irrumation, where one partner places a phallic object or penis into the other partner's buttock cleavage or gluteal cleft.
  • Mammary intercourse, when one partner rubs a phallic object or penis between the partner's breasts.
  • Oral stimulation of nipples.
  • Sumata, type of stimulation of male genitals popular in Japanese brothels.
  • Tribadism, vulva-to-vulva rubbing, also known as "scissoring."


A number of BDSM activities do not involve penetration. However they are not generally considered under the same heading because they are not considered substitutes for "having sex."

Mutual masturbation as a form of non-penetrative sex

Mutual masturbation is a sexual act where two or more people stimulate themselves or one another sexually, usually with the hands.

This may be done in situations where the participants do not feel ready, physically able, it is socially appropriate, or simply do not wish to have full sexual intercourse, but still wish to have a mutual sexual act. It is also done as part of the full repertoire of sexual intercourse, where it may be used as an interlude, a form of foreplay or simply as an alternative activity to penetration. For some, it is the primary sexual activity of choice above all others because it enables the individuals to see face to face and leaves the hands free to caress, as seen in frottage (see below).

Mutual masturbation can be practiced by those of all sexual orientations. If used as an alternative to penile-vaginal penetration, the aim may be to preserve virginity or to prevent pregnancy. Some may choose it because it achieves sexual satisfaction without actual sex, possibly seeing it as an alternative to casual sex.

The techniques of mutual masturbation resemble those of simple masturbation, with the exception that other persons are involved. The range of participation can be as simple as two participants masturbating in the same room at the same time without any physical contact to a group of people all stimulating one another. In the case of two participants, one partner may stimulate the other, each partner may stimulate the other, or one may stimulate both themselves and their partner.

Mutual masturbation might result in one or more of the partners achieving orgasm. If no bodily fluids are exchanged (as is common), mutual masturbation is a form of safer sex, and greatly reduces the risk of transmission of sexual diseases. As such it was encouraged among gay men by some safer sex organizations in the wake of the AIDS outbreak of the 1980s, as an alternative to anal or oral sex.

The terms "mutual masturbation" and "circle jerk" are sometimes also used as vulgar metaphors. They can refer to a situation, often in the workplace, politics or academia, where people are stroking each other's ego without producing anything of value.

Partnered manual genital stroking to reach orgasm

Partnered manual genital stroking to reach orgasm and expanded orgasm are practices done with a partner. Both people focus on creating and experiencing an orgasm in one person. Typically in this safe sex partnered masturbation practice, one person lies down, pantless, while his or her partner sits alongside. The one partner sitting using their hands and fingers (typically with a lubricant) to slowly stroke the clitoris or penis and genitals of the partner. Expanded orgasm as a mutual masturbation technique is said to create orgasm experiences more intense and extensive than what can be described as, or included in the definition of, a regular orgasm It includes a range of sensations that include orgasms that are full-bodied, and orgasms that last from a few minutes to many hours. The term was coined in 1995 by Dr. Patricia Taylor.

Partnered orgasmic meditation

The practice of orgasmic meditation, like expanded orgasm, is a practice done with a partner. One person lies down, pants less, while his or her partner sits alongside. The one sitting uses his or her index finger and slowly, deliberately strokes the clitoris or genitals of the other. Typically in this safe sex practice, the stroking technique lasts for 15 minutes. Both partners focus their entire attention on the point of contact, simply feeling the sensation that is present. If the mind drifts, attention is simply brought back to the point of contact and the resulting sensations. The practice is timed precisely and generally lasts for typically 15 minutes. When the "OMing" session is over, both partners share their experiences verbally. This verbal expression deepens the connection of the relationship between individual's limbic body sensations and his or her language faculties, and also the connection between individuals across the conduit of language and body sensation as described in cognitive articulated language.


Frottage, more commonly known as dry humping, is the act of achieving sexual pleasure with a partner or partners, whether naked or clothed, without penetration. This can include using almost every part of the body, including the buttocks, the breasts, abdomen, thighs, feet, hands, legs, and sexual organs. Frottage can include mutual genital rubbing, sometimes called genito-genital or GG rubbing and most of the other forms of non-penetrative sex.

There are many reasons a couple may choose frottage. The most common reasons are as a form of foreplay before intercourse or as a method to achieve sexual gratification without the more sexually explicit (and in some circumstances, forbidden) oral, vaginal or anal sexual intercourse. Often young people will use frottage as an earlier stage of sexual intimacy before more explicit contact is desired, or as a substitute to intercourse to maintain a higher degree of chastity. Also, frottage can be done without getting undressed. Panties, bras, pantyhose, socks, or stockings can aid in sexual arousal and stimulation.

Lap dances often involve clothed frottage. A modern dancing style which involves partners rubbing their clothed bodies on one another is called "grinding," "freaking," or "Sandwich dancing" and is known in the Spanish speaking territories as "perrear" ("dogging"). This term came from Puerto Rico and later became the famous dance for reggaeton.

The term frottage derives from the French verb frotter, "to rub."

Distinctions in terminology

Three distinct terms derive from the French verb frotter, "to rub," that are not to be confused:

  • frottage: The sexual act, involving rubbing, described in this section
  • frotteurism: a paraphilia involving obsession with frottage or performing frottage nonconsensually (e.g., pressing one's genitals against a stranger on a crowded subway). This behavior was once called "frottage" but that use is no longer accepted.
  • frot: Refers exclusively to male-male genital rubbing without penetration. Confusingly, "frottage" is sometimes shortened to "frot" in informal use.

Part of the reason for the confusion is that consensual frottage may have once been considered a perversion and lumped in with non-consensual frotteurism. This view is no longer widely held. The 1995 book Eccentric and Bizarre Behaviors by Louis R. Franzini and Jon Squires declares frottage, in the appropriate context, to be a perfectly normal sexual behavior for anyone "male or female, homosexual or heterosexual."

Chikan (痴漢, チカン, or ちかん) is a Japanese term for frotteurism, or someone who commits such an act. Among other uses, the term is used to describe people who take advantage of the crowded conditions on the public transit systems to rub against others sexually.


  • "dry humping": two people engaging in clothed sex in a manner that simulates intercourse.
  • "scrumping": a colloquialism for dry humping. A portmanteau of scratching and humping.
  • "grinding", "dubbing", or "freaking": a modern dancing style that involves partners rubbing their clothed bodies on one another.
  • "frotteur geek": a colloquialism for a person with a devotion to a typical scenario for frottage.
  • "Princetonmarker rub",, "Ivy League rub", and so on: slang terms, referring to male-male frot or interfemoral intercourse or both, presumably surviving from the days when these colleges only admitted men.
  • "g0y" (spelled with the number zero): alternative sexual identity for men attracted to other men but avoiding anal sex in favor of non-penetrative sex.

Pregnancy risk

Interfemoral intercourse and genital rubbing, although notionally forms of outercourse, can carry a risk of pregnancy through transfer of the sperm-bearing fluids to the sex organs. The risk of pregnancy with oral sex is only through contact between sperm-bearing fluids such as semen or Cowper's fluid and female sex organs, though the sex organs aren't usually in close contact with oral sex.

Joycelyn Elders controversy in the United States

Dr. Joycelyn Elders, President Bill Clinton's surgeon general, tried to popularize outercourse as a means of sexual play for teens that would offer a safer alternative than sexual intercourse involving penile-vaginal or penile-anal penetration. However, her recommendation proved to be too controversial and she was fired by Clinton in December 1994.

See also


  1. axillary intercourse - Dictionary of sexual terms
  2. The ESO Ecstasy Program: Better, Safer Sexual Intimacy and Extended Orgasmic Response, Alan Brauer & Donna Brauer, Warner Books (1991), Page 24–25, Masters in Johnson … described female orgasm as “a brief episode of physical release” characterized by either “a series of rapidly recurrent orgasmic experiences between which no recordable plateau-phase intervals can be demonstrated or by a single, long-continued orgasmic episode… status orgasmus is may last from 20 to more than 60 seconds”.
  3. Patricia Taylor, PhD thesis (2000), In her PhD research study, the average time spent in an EO session was 54 minutes.
  4. -GUys into gUys - not gAys
  5. Matt & Andrej Koymasky - Gay Slang - G
  6. Joycelyn Elders: From Sharecropper's Daughter to Surgeon General of the United States of America. - book reviews | Washington Monthly | Find Articles at
  7. President Clinton Makes a Celebratory Return to His Starting Point in Arkansas - New York Times
  8. Getting Out the Wrecking Ball - TIME

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