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Outercourse usually refers to types of sexual intimacy which do not involve the penis entering the vagina or anus. Some examples of outercourse include:
  • holding hands
  • hugs
  • kisses
  • mutual masturbation
  • oral genital contact
  • petting above the waist
  • petting below the waist
  • touching

Outercourse does take some discipline
Both partners must be commited to this method, or these exciting forms of sexual intimacy can lead to traditional intercourse. Many people choose to practice outercourse because of the risk of infection. It works better if there has been communication about using this method in advance. Decide in advance what sexual activities you will say "yes" to and discuss these with your partner. Tell your partner very clearly what activities you will not do. At the same time learn more about the methods of safer sex and birth control so that you will be ready if you change your mind.


  • Outercourse is always an option... no supplies are necessary and it's free!
  • It's fun and there is no worry about pregnancy. For some it's more fun than traditional intercourse.
  • There is no exchange of fluids. This provides some protection against infection.
  • There are no medical complications associated with outercourse.
  • Outercourse can increase emotional closeness between individuals.


  • Oral sex can spread some infections.
  • One partner may really want to have intercourse. This can cause stress.
  • This method may cause either partner to wonder, "Is this going to go farther than I want?" Such concern may decrease enjoyment.

What if I have sex and don't use birth control?
For 72 hours AFTER unprotected sex, you can take emergency contraceptive pills to avoid becoming pregnant. For up to 7 days AFTER unprotected sex, you can have an IUD put in. Not all clinicians know about emergency contraception. If you want more information or would like the phone numbers of clinicians near you who prescribe emergency birth control, CALL the toll-free hotline 1-888-NOT-2-LATE or 1-800-584-9911. Some of these sources of help are free.

These materials were written by Robert A. Hatcher, MD, MPH, Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Emory University School of Medicine.

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