Discovering the Power of Non-Penetrative Sex

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Key Points

  • Many consider vaginal sex the only way to have sex, but it's just one small detail.

  • Masturbate simultaneously with a partner or use your hands to find new ways to please each other.

  • Oral sex deserves more spotlight in bed and even makes more women orgasm than vaginal penetration.

  • Toys are a spicy way to add new sensations in the bedroom without penis-in-vagina penetration.

When discussing or thinking of sex, most people automatically assume a penis enters a vagina. Some people think penetration is a requirement for sex. Others don't consider interactions to be sex unless there's penetration. There are countless ways to enjoy sex alone or with a partner without penetration, whether vaginal or anal.

Penetration isn't possible for everyone due to gender, anatomy, trauma, vaginismus, or other factors. Sometimes penetration isn't enjoyable even if it is physically possible. Sex can be alone or with someone of any gender you wish — without a penis sliding in and out of a vagina. According to statistics published in June 2023 by PleasureBetter, only 18.4 percent of women orgasm from vaginal sex. I'm so thankful for other ways to get it on!

Enjoy sex using hands, tongues, toys, genitals, feet, or anything else you want to try.

Use Your Hands

Closeup of intertwined bare legs and hands.

Masturbating is the safest way to have sex. I've learned about my pleasure and connection to my body through self-sex. According to the same study from PleasureBetter, 92.4 percent of women orgasm from masturbation.

Take time to yourself, in your own space, to set the mood and explore your body. Masturbating is the number one way to become comfortable with your sexuality and gain awareness of what pleases you. The more comfortable you are with your body in private, the more confident you are with a partner.

Mutual Masturbation

An incredibly intimate way to connect to your partner and enjoy some sexy time is mutual masturbation. Pleasure yourself while getting off on the beautiful person before you. Just as I've learned what I like through masturbating, I've also learned what partners like through mutual masturbation.

Watch how your partner touches themselves during your mutual masturbation and take notes for the future. Replicate how they stroke their penis or clitoris. I like to try different techniques to see what makes their eyes roll back the most. I'll tell my partner to squeeze my arm the more they like it for mid-action feedback.

Masturbation Support

At times when my partner needs sexual fulfillment, but I'm not in the mood, I propose that they masturbate in my presence. Kiss and touch parts of their body, and maybe let them touch you. I first set a boundary of how involved I want to be, but I usually want more as I watch them pleasure themselves. It's irresistible!

This tactic is extra beneficial in relationships with mismatched libidos. I have a dying need to please my partner, which is highly impractical when they want sex far more often than me. To keep them satisfied, and therefore myself too, I turn to masturbation support whenever they need more than I have.

Lick and Suck

Closeup of a woman with red lipstick holding a red and white heart-shaped lollipop.

Why is oral sex portrayed more as foreplay than actual sex? It's my favorite part of sex! Women are 23 percent more likely to orgasm during sex if they receive oral.

In case you learned otherwise — having your mouth on someone's genitals is definitely having sex, and it doesn't serve exclusively as foreplay. Stimulating your partner with your mouth brings orgasmic pleasure. Plus, it's a major turn-on for the giver. Lick each other's nipples, neck, tummy, anus, clit, penis, testicles, or anything else you two want. Experiment to find what you like the most!

Giving and receiving oral sex isn't just foreplay. If you want to lick each other, make it the main act. Many non-hetero couples already turn the spotlight to oral sex and enjoy a satisfying sex life.

Playtime With Toys

Various adult toys on pink background.

Eggs, dildos, bullets, Fleshlights, butt plugs, rabbits, clit suckers, nipple clamps, and more. The world of sex toys is constantly changing and adding new, shiny things I want to try. Sex toys are a fun way to pleasure yourself or explore with a partner.

For penis owners, there are masturbator eggs to provide a new texture and experience. Fleshlights provide a realistic feel similar to vaginal or anal sex. Prostate massagers reach that delicious P-spot (male pleasure center on the prostate). I love using these toys on a partner to discover new and exciting ways to make them squirm.

Lucky for us women, the sex toy industry is in our favor. There are toys to vibrate, suck, flick, and buzz our clits. Some toys reach that magical G-spot inside to make our toes curl. Some toys do both simultaneously.

Introduce toys in the bedroom to enjoy a steamy night of sex using them on yourselves and testing them on each other.

Get Creative

Touch, rub, vibrate, tickle, spank, and squeeze each other any way you want. I hope this opens your mind to dirty new ways to explore sex. There are endless ways to enjoy sex; these examples are merely intros. I've even gotten off on my partner rubbing their leg on me just the right way!

Explore each other's bodies more and more while normalizing non-penetrative sex. Respect each other's fantasies and ensure everything is consensual. Remember, all consensual sex is good sex.

Finally, I challenge you to go without penetration with your partner for a week or two. Have sex in other ways and discover what gets you off.

According to psychosexual and relationship therapist Kate Moyle, "Anticipation is one of the best aphrodisiacs that we have, and teasing and sensual touch can play a big part of that. It will help you to be more playful and imaginative — and it can really revamp your sex life to discover different parts of each other's bodies where you or they like to be touched."

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