When it comes to sex, people tend to consider intercourse. It’s easy to get trapped into thinking that sex means one course of action: foreplay, penetration, and orgasm. But there are many ways to enjoy sexual pleasure. Lots of people have desires and needs that go beyond traditional ideas of intercourse. Sometimes couples feel stuck into rigid sexual repertoires and barriers to intimacy. Also, there are many circumstances in which penetrative intercourse is not the option for sexual partners.
That’s when it's time to shift the focus to “outercourse”, a term that encompasses everything but penetration, and it's about to make sex life a lot better. Outercourse is definitely a more inclusive way to approach sex, related to a series of techniques aiming to enhance the sexual experience with both partners having greater opportunity to orgasm.
Outercourse activities include passionate kissing, flirtation and seduction, erotic talk, bathing/showering together, exploring each other's body by touching and rubbing it all over, mutual masturbation, sensory play, teasing around erogenous zones, oral sex, erotic massage and getting creative. This type of practice forces sexual partners to stay in the moment and determine what works best for each of them. Relaxation and taking time are the keys here. Improving sexual communication, sharing sexual preferences, planning sexual encounters and focusing on pleasure, instead of performance are the strategies to create deeper intimacy and add spice to the relationship. The most important thing is to be comfortable and enjoy what they're doing.
Still, wondering why outercourse is worth it when people could be having intercourse instead? There are many situations where outercourse might be a great option.
Anyone can practice it, no matter gender, sexual orientation, or whether or not she/he’s had intercourse before. Some would want to understand their own body more; to practice and learn how to ask for what they want; to learn more about their partner’s likes and dislikes. Some would like to learn how to get the most out of their foreplay leading up to intercourse or just to mix things up and try something sexual that’s not intercourse.
One partner may not want to be penetrated or penetrate due to not feeling ready, a painful health condition, trauma, or body dysphoria. Some choose outercourse as a safe sex alternative and avoid any activity that can cause pregnancy or transmit sexually transmitted infections. Not to forget: several medical and anatomical conditions can cause that the vagina is absent, partly or totally closed, or too sore for penetration. At the same way in men, the penis could be partially or entirely lost, unfit for penetration or too painful when erected or when penetrating.
Regardless of the reasons for practising it, outercourse is a fun way to try new things, focus on different pleasures, and explore what sensuality really means to oneself.
Francesca Tripodi, PsyD
Institute of Clinical Sexology, Rome, Italy