Sometimes you're in the mood to get some action but don't actually feel like having anything inside you. Whether you're on your period, have a UTI or just plain aren't in the mood for it, the good news is, there are plenty of other ways for you and your partner to get off together without having old-fashioned intercourse.
In fact, let's be real. There's a huge number of us out there who can't even reach an orgasm from penetration alone, not to mention the fact that there are also a ton of us who have partners who weren't born with the equipment to have hetero sex. But all that doesn't matter.
"The most valuable thing you can do is find ways to bring more clitoral stimulation into your sex life," says sex therapist Vanessa Marin, who is actually launching an online training program to teach women how to orgasm (bless her heart). Work on finding adventurous positions and activities that stimulate the clit, and you'll be opened up to a whole new world of possibilities.
Here are some of our favorites to get you started.
1. Masturbate in front of one another
Instead of treating your partner like a machine whose job it is to give you an orgasm, heed the advice of Dr. Carlen Costa, a sexologist and relationship expert from Canada, and change your attitude first. "You're supposed to own your orgasm," Dr. Carlen says.
And the number one way she suggests increasing your sexual confidence and taking control over your orgasms is by partaking in a naughty bit of adult show-and-tell and masturbating in front of one another. Whether you choose to discuss in advance the fact that you're about to give your partner the thrill of their life or surprise them by letting them come home and "catch" you rubbing yourself on the Jennifer Convertible sofa, is entirely up to you. And though you may be tempted to let them jump in and finish the job, Dr. Carlen suggests restraining your passions and enforcing a no touching rule for as long as possible — which will only make things hotter.
2. Sex toys
Sex toys have come a long way since your mother's dildo (sorry, not a sexy image). Marin suggests trying a couples' toy like the We-Vibe or, if you prefer going at it alone, the Eva by DAME products, which is an actual hands-free vibrator that stimulates the clitoris with zero effort — yay for that!
Kait Scalisi, a sexual and reproductive health educator, writer and consultant, is also a huge fan of toys like the We-Vibe Touch, as well as G-Spot toy Je Joue Uma and arousal oils like ON Arousal Oil, which she says brings blood flow to the vaginal area and makes it easier to become aroused and achieve orgasm.
"I highly recommend all women have a high-quality lubricant," Scalisi said. "Water-based lubes like Sliquid Organics are great for toys while silicone-based lubes like the one by Pjur are better for intercourse, oral sex and fingering. The amount of natural lubricant a woman produces is not indicative of her level of arousal as everything from stress to dehydration to medications can affect the body's ability to get wet."
3. Direct stimulation
How many times have we been told the number one way for women to achieve orgasm is by getting oral sex? But that's not necessarily so. Look, we're not saying to stop your partner when they want to go down on you because cunnilingus can be one of the most pleasurable experiences on the planet. But so much attention has been put on oral sex that Dr. Carlen says it's easy to forget that women don't always come this way.
"More women are more self-conscious when they have someone in between their legs," Dr. Carlen says. "They worry about what they taste or smell like. Instead, direct stimulation is the number one way women orgasm."
Chances are, you're well versed on all things clitoris-related and know both light touching and applying more pressure to this sensitive spot can result in orgasm. But Dr. Carlen reminds us to encourage our partners to explore the entire vagina — including the labia and vulva, which has the second-most nerve endings after the clitoris and the U-spot, the area on and around the urethra.
4. Dirty talk
The brain is our largest sex organ and we're doing ourselves a huge disservice if we ignore this fact. It's completely possible to orgasm or get so worked up you could come in seconds without any physical contact at all by taking the time to engage in a little filthy talk before or even instead of sex.
If you've never tried this before with your partner, Dr. Carlen says to take your time and take it slow. "You don't have to jump in with the dirtiest thing because it can come across as awkward or unauthentic," she says. Instead of whispering in his ear that you want to have an orgy with him and 15 members of a football team, Dr. Carlen says tried-and-true dirty talk includes saying things like "I love it when you do (fill in the blank)," and the universally hot, "Oh, baby, I'm coming."
And if you're feeling shy about it, the expert says a great way to build your sexual confidence and test the waters is by sexting your partner. Setting up a scenario via text like, "When you get home tonight (fill in the blank)" is a surefire way to fan the flames.
Next Up: Frottage
Originally published December 2015. Updated January 2017.
Nope, this isn't the name of a decadent dessert; it's something many of us probably did when we were teenagers. I'm talking about good ole dry humping, rubbing and grinding — the kind that takes place when both partners are either fully or partially dressed — or, oh what the hell, totally naked works too.
The beauty of frottage is that it's exciting because it's an unexpected thing to do with your partner when you're over the age of 21. There's no pressure to perform, no worries about birth control (assuming all of your clothing is on!) and a rare opportunity for both you and your partner to get off at the same time from the same act.
6. Tantric sex
If you haven't heard of the ancient Indian tradition of tantra, brace yourself: There are some fortunate individuals and couples out there who have tapped into sexual energy in a way that can result in them having an orgasm within minutes — with absolutely no physical contact. But Patricia Johnson, who has 15 years of experience teaching tantra with her husband Mark A. Michaels and with whom she has written a book called Partners in Passion: A Guide to Great Sex, Emotional Intimacy and Long-Term Love, says anyone can learn how to channel that energy we all have into a powerful orgasm.
"First of all, imagination is the key," Johnson said. "Studies show that orgasm actually originates in the brain, so attitude matters more than technique. Imagine that you're having an orgasm and that will get you on the road to the real thing. Tantra is more about attitude than a particular skill or past experience."
7. Breast orgasms
We pay so much attention to how our breasts look that some of us forget these babies are not only lovely, but — regardless of our cup size — functional and one of our very best friends when it comes to orgasm. Our breasts actually swell up to 25 percent when we feel aroused and even change color, according to Dr. Carlen. When our partner stimulates our nipples by licking, massaging or even tapping them rhythmically, it can have the same exciting effect on our brain as clitoral and vaginal stimulation.
8. Spanking/role playing/BDSM
Big fan of Fifty Shades? If you've been wondering how it feels to get spanked or act out your submissive fantasies, Scalisi highly recommends that women fill out a yes/no/maybe list of options that exist in order to get ideas about what they could do in the bedroom and decide if it's right for them. Thanks to Christian Grey, Scalisi says there's never been an easier time to broach this topic with a partner.
You don't have to go to extremes while experimenting, either. A great pair of leather handcuffs provide the thrill of being tied up without it being too intense. It's all about doing what makes you comfortable and exploring a side of you that you didn't know existed — and that can tip the excitement scale to orgasm.