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    Sex without intercourse

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      Couple hand in hand

      Perhaps when you think of the word “sex”, you think of one particular sexual act; penetrative intercourse. However, non-penetrative sex or sex without intercourse can also be thought of as “sex”, and seeing it this way can lead to a more adventurous and exciting sex life.

      What is so important about intercourse anyway?

      There are many reasons as to why people want to have intercourse.

      It might be to conceive, to feel close to your partner or because you find the feelings pleasurable. Perhaps there is a pressure to have intercourse if we see it as “proper” sex.

      However, for many women, the most pleasurable sexual stimulation is external, on the clitoris, rather than from thrusting inside the vagina.

      What is “outercourse”?

      “Outercourse” would involve sexual stimulation without penetration and might include “intracrural sex”, which is where the penis is rubbed against the partner’s genitals using lubricant, creating a pleasurable friction without penetration. A top tip is to apply an oil-based lubricant on one partner’s genitals and a water-based lubricant on the other for an enhanced sensation. N.B. Oil-based lubricants are not compatible with condoms.

      Non penetrative sex ideas

      Be creative – sensually explore all of each other’s bodies by touching with both sides of your hands, your mouth, with soft fabrics, lotions or even using food.

      Oral sex – which can be a form of penetration if the penis enters the mouth or tongue enters the vagina or anus.

      Finger sex – Stimulating each other using your hands and using them to penetrate as well if you both choose.

      Solo sex – Sex on your own (masturbation) can be a good way to enhance your sex life with a partner as you can learn how you like to be touched and what thoughts and fantasies turn you on.

      Don’t underestimate hand holding and kissing – they can be very intimate, tender activities that can get ignored if the ultimate goal is always intercourse.

      Don’t forget about non-touching sex i.e. on the phone or Internet, sharing fantasies and talking dirty or pleasuring yourselves in front of each other.

      Reasons not to have intercourse or penetration

      Some people may not have a choice but to take intercourse or penetration off their sexual menu. Aging, illness and disability can have an affect on sexual function, particularly in relation to erections and vaginal lubrication. But that does not mean that they can no longer enjoy a satisfying, intimate and arousing sex life; it may just take some adjustment. Show and talk to your partner about what feels good and how you like to be touched. Be playful and experiment e.g. try using sex toys such as penis sleeves, vibrators and synthetic lubricants.

      Intercourse might not be welcomed in the months following childbirth, so enjoying sexual activities that are more external and gentle, might be preferable.

      If you and your partner want to engage in sexual activity during her period, but don’t want to have intercourse or any form of penetration, you might opt for external sexual touching and stimulation.

      People can often get caught up with negative, sabotaging thoughts during sex about sexual performance, which can lead to loss of desire and arousal, pain & discomfort, erectile dysfunction (ED), and absent or premature ejaculation (PE). Sex without intercourse can alleviate the pressure of having to have an erection or worrying about ejaculating, or worrying about the shape and size of your penis. Reducing such performance anxiety can lead to more relaxed and enjoyable sex. 

      Sex with someone of the same gender may not involve intercourse, but is still sex.

      Anal sex, which might be ‘anal play’ using hands or the mouth or penetration, N.B. Be careful, as anal tissues can easily tear, so plenty of lubrication is necessary, along with patience and relaxation, as well as condoms to protect against HIV and STI’s. Not all men who have sex with men want anal penetration. Oral sex and genital play may often be preferred sexual activities.

      Similarly, women who have sex with women may use sex toys to enhance their sexual relationships, such as a strap on, dildo or vibrator, but oral sex, genital play and genital-to-genital touching may be many women’s preferred form of sex.

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      Safe “outercourse” – can you get an STI?

      Even without intercourse or penetrative sex, you are still at risk of STIs and getting pregnant if your genitals touch, mouths touch genitals or bodily fluids get transferred through touching. Dental dams are a safe way of having oral sex as well as using condoms.

      Excluding intercourse from your sexual repertoire, even occasionally, can boost excitement, create newness, reduce sexual anxiety and allow for more tenderness in your sexual relationships.

      VideoGP by LloydsPharmacy

      Charlotte Simpson is an Accredited Psychosexual Therapist and Relationship Counsellor in Private Practice in North West London.

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