But you can have an incredibly hot, intimate, mutually satisfying, maybe even a sensorially revelatory night in without putting anything in anyone. So, here are some fresh suggestions on how to have amazing sex without it.
Non-penetrative sex ideas
1. Try Kunyaza
'Kunyaza’ is a practice that’s been exercised for hundreds of years between heterosexual couples in central Africa,' says owner of the Whores of Yore sexual history hub, Dr. Kate Lister. 'During kunyaza, the man rhythmically and firmly strikes the clitoral glands with his erect penis,' she explains.
'As the woman [or vagina-having person] becomes more aroused and the vulva starts to swell, their partner rubs their penis from the top to the bottom of the vulva, then left to right, and then in a zigzagging motion – always returning to strike the clitoris after each rotation. Finally, as the woman or vulva-haver is brought close to orgasm, their partner simultaneously stimulates the whole vulva area using long strokes... but never penetrating. The technique itself may sound deceptively simple, but kunyaza literally means ‘to make urinate’, or ‘to make squirt’.'
2. Use non-penetrative sex toys
Tenga eggs are soft, stretchy, squishy hollow ovals with a hole at the bottom. You pour a little lube into the hole, pop them over the end of a penis, then use them to give yourself a great handjob – each one has a different texture inside it, to caress in different ways. The ‘hard-boiled’ varieties give stronger sensations than the classic editions, and you can also use different lubricants (warming, cooling, or extra helpings for a sloppier, slippier, more blow-job-esque feel and sound).
These aren’t just toys for the boys and penis-having people, either. Get your partner to flip one inside out over her fingers, and use it to stroke the clitoris and labia, again with lashings of lube.
3. Make most of the perineum
The perineum is the fleshy part between a guy or penis-haver's balls and anus, and it’s chokka with nerve endings. 'It also hardens as they do,' explains Topher Taylor of Clonezone sex shop. 'The perineum graduates from soft, to firm and back – which gives you a plump area to rub, tug and massage. I find that stimulation using your tongue and your knuckles works well.'
While lying on your back, ask your partner to hold the first and middle fingers of their dominant hand as though they are flicking the Vs at your genitals, then push those knuckles either side of the perineum, gripping against the firm flesh and rubbing up and down while licking the surrounding areas.
The perineum responds well to moisture, pressure and temperature. Try pressing against it with a heavy, ribbed stainless steel dildo, like the Lovehoney Desire beaded glass dildo, that’s been chilled in the fridge or submerged in warm water.
4. Lay back and relax
Sarah Berry is a sex and relationships therapist who often works with women and people with vaginas who suffer from dyspareunia, vaginismus and vulvodynia: conditions that make penetration or just touching the external genitals uncomfortable, even excruciating.
For such clients who want to enjoy play without pain, she suggests a variety of exercises that don’t focus on the vagina – but says they’re also beneficial for couples who find it hard to pause in their busy lives, or who are struggling to get aroused, especially if they feel pressure to perform sexually. They’re spot on for simply switching up your routine, too.
She recommends enjoying a lighthearted, indoor ‘Nil Penetration Playtime Picnic’ on a lazy, loungey Sunday afternoon: it’s a less tense and intense time than the night, when you might be tired, or worried about what’s coming up the next day.
'Get some finger food – no pun intended! – and some booze or decadent non-alcoholic fizz, put on some music and sit opposite each other on the bed in comfy undies or robes,' Sarah says. 'Mix up chatting and snacking with touching, stroking, kissing, and masturbating if the mood takes you.' If your bedroom has accidentally become a place that’s centred around frantic fucking and insomniac fretting, this helps rebrand it as a space for chilled thrills too.
5. Layer your lubes
'We’re big fans of ‘outercourse’ here,' say The Vaginismus Network. 'Pain-free penetration (if you want it) may be the physical end goal of vaginismus treatment, but in the meantime, if you want to have a sex life, you have to embrace other options.
Vaginismus forces you to be creative in the bedroom, and actually has the potential to deepen the connection between you and your partner because you can’t just ‘have a quickie’ - you have to put a bit of effort in. Also, because vaginismus is often rooted in anxiety, fear and shame, it’s important to keep your sex life fun and interesting, to reduce the sense of humiliation and worry and the feeling of being ‘second best’ to people without genital issues.
'People with vaginismus usually have fully stocked lubricant collections, as it’s invaluable when attempting to insert dilators (slim dildos that start teeny weeny and increase in size, designed to gradually get the vagina used to accommodating an object). However, it’s also great to use for slickly stroking and massaging the labia and clitoris.”
For ultimate sensuousness during an extended massage sesh, try first smoothing on a layer of long-lasting silicone lube, like Durex Play Perfect Glide - then adding a ‘cushion’ of thick water-based lube on top, like ID Jelly Extra Thick.
6. Take a texture tour
'Blindfold your partner, then stroke or press on the skin all over their body using household items you’ve gathered that have different textures: a feather duster; a leather glove; a foamy sponge; a blusher brush; satin knickers; a wooden spoon for spanking; a silicone spatula and a chilly metal fork,' suggests Kim Loliya, editor of Sex+ zine and host of sex positive debates and workshops.
Even a - fresh! - metal scourer can feel tantalising squeezed against the soles of the feet, and because your partner’s eyes are covered, they can’t see the deeply unsexy/hilarious visual of you creaming their butt cheeks with a potato masher or rolling one of those little spiky tumble drier balls down their spine – they can only feel the deliciousness.
Renee Denyer, from Sh! Women’s Erotic Emporium, has a hack to amp up the sensuality even further: 'Use a light, floaty scarf you’ve been wearing as an eye mask, so your lover is enveloped in your scent.'
Lydia Bowers coaches couples on non-penetrative sexual techniques as part of her online workshops, presented as livestreams on sex ed platform O.School. 'Be mindful of the pleasure you experience while you’re touching your partner, too,” she reminds us. “How does the object feel in your hand? How does your love’s skin feel, taste, smell? What are the different sensations in stroking an arm, a collarbone, a belly?'
7. Dry hump
Ain’t nothing wrong with period sex, but it isn’t everyone’s (menstrual) cuppa.
'Frottage, aka dry humping, has a rather ‘year seven' reputation, but it can genuinely feel great,' says Thinx’ CJ Frogozo - and challenging one another to provoke pleasure through fabric forces you to think outside that ‘bung yourself balls deep in my box’, erm, box.
Plus, hefty vibrators with real va-va-voom like the Doxy wand work wonderfully through clothes.