what is outercourse

What is Outercourse?

Content Warning: This Article Discusses Sexual Trauma and Abuse. Please read with caution if this is a triggering topic for you.


If you’re reading this, chances are you’re more than familiar with the term “intercourse”. Maybe it even gives you cringey flashbacks to conversations with your parents, healthcare provider, or sex-ed teacher.

what is outercourse

Based on this, you can probably guess what “outercourse” means. Typically, outercourse refers to sexual activities that exclude penis in vagina penetration.

There is no one set definition for outercourse. Some people include oral and anal sex in that, while others don’t. For some, outercourse excludes any sort of vaginal penetration, including fingering

To some, outcourse means sexual activities that pose no risk of pregnancy.

The term is fairly common in the abstinence community, although the two aren’t necessarily interchangeable. Abstinence can mean no sexual activity or certain sexual acts without penetration, this is where outercourse and abstinence overlap. 

Now that you got the low down on the pretty broad definition of what outercourse is, let’s see why someone might be interested in it, and some fun outcourse activities to add to your to-do list. 

What Are the Benefits of Outercourse?

If you’re into whatever outercourse activities you’re doing, and who you’re doing them with, one of the biggest benefits of outercourse is pleasure. We all love to feel good, and if outcourse helps you do that, then that’s reason enough to do it. 

Outercourse also limits or completely eliminates the risk of pregnancy, depending on what you’re doing. Although there’s a really low chance, there is still the possibility of pregnancy if semen happens to be near your vaginal opening.

It doesn’t stop there. There are endless reasons why someone might want to enjoy sexual activities that don’t include penetration.

It Helps with Gender Inclusivity

Inclusive can mean a lot of different things, but broadening our ideas of and conversations around sexual activity helps to include more people in the conversation that may previously have been left out or disregarded. 

Inclusivity can refer to gender, where outercourse helps to include sexual partners where both people have a vagina. 

Outercourse can help break heteronormativity in the bedroom. Heteronormative sex is thought to follow a linear timeline of kissing, maybe some foreplay, penis and vagina penetration, and possibly cuddling afterward. 

Normalizing outercourse activities as being the “main events” helps to expand people’s ideas of what their sex lives can look like, and where they can get pleasure from. Having said that, it’s also important to note that not all couples who have a penis and vagina are heterosexual. 

It Creates Disability Inclusivity

Inclusivity can also include people with disabilities, whether or not they’re visible, which may affect their ability to have penetrative sex. 

This can expand to people who have reproductive health disorders that affect their ability to have penetrative sex. Health issues like ovarian cysts, vaginismus, endometriosis, and pelvic floor disorders and can all make penetrative sex not pleasurable, painful, or not possible. 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, whether or not it’s from sexual trauma can prevent someone from wanting to have penetrative sex. Outercourse offers more possibilities for intimacy that are within their comfort zone. 

This also creates opportunities for people who have experienced trauma to have discussions around their sexual and intimate boundaries, and how to navigate them in an enjoyable and pleasurable way. 

It’s More Enjoyable

Even if there are no definable medical conditions or other reasons, someone just might not want to penetrate someone or be penetrated. They don’t need to have further explanation than that if they don’t want to explore their reasoning. 

Outercourse is an awesome option for people who fall into this category. Everyone deserves access to pleasure that’s enjoyable for them.

It Helps You Get Creative

Outercourse can help you expand your idea of what you include in your sex life. It allows you to focus on what gives you pleasure outside of penetrative sex. 

Flexing your creative muscle sexually creates more opportunities for exploration and experiencing new sensations. 

Can You Get STIs From Outercourse?

Although you may be protected from pregnancy, there is still a risk of giving or contracting a sexually transmitted infection

If your outercourse includes exchanging bodily fluids or skin-to-skin contact, this can still transmit STI’s like herpes and chlamydia, which is why it’s important to get tested regularly and use protection like condoms and dental dams when necessary.

Ways to Get Your Outercourse On

Now that you’ve got a general idea of what outercourse means, let’s take a look at what it might include.

Again, these are just general ideas that may or may not fit into an individual’s definition of outercourse. 

  • Kissing: Get your smooch on! Kissing and making out can be a great way to connect and get turned on.
  • Cuddling: Curling up with someone can be incredibly intimate 
  • Manual Stimulation: Handjobs, breast or chest stimulation, clit rubbing, and fingering allow you to experience sexual pleasure without penetration. Some people may or may not include finger penetration.
  • Mutual Masturbation: Watching each other get off can be beyond hot! This is a great way to show your sexual partner what really works for your body, and learn about theirs.
  • Sex Toys: Sex toys like vibrators and anal plugs are a fun way to explore new sensations and types of pleasure.
  • Oral Sex: You know the drill here. Oral stimulation doesn’t have to stop at genitals. It can mean the nipples, inner thighs, feet, neck, or anywhere else your heart desires. 
  • Dry Humping: The technical term for this one is “frottage”. Dry humping, or the act of humping with your clothes on doesn’t get enough credit. If you’re just wearing underwear keep in mind that there is still a slight possibility of STI transmission.
  • Dirty Talk: Talk about a cunning linguist! Get your dirty talk on and you can get turned on without even touching each other.
  • Massage: A sensual massage is a great way to turn into your partner’s body and needs.
  • Penis Thrusting: A penis thrusting in one’s thighs or breasts may be included in their definition of outercourse.

Outercourse: The Bottom Line

When it comes down to it, each individual can define sex for themselves. Outercourse may or may not fit into that definition. How and why people choose to engage in sexual activities is up to them. 

We’re advocates for anything that brings both parties (or more) pleasure and is done with enthusiastic consent