Outercourse. Heavy petting. Dry sex. Tribadism. Dry humping. No matter what you call it, the act of rubbing your vagina against your partner’s leg, knee, erection, or other body parts deserves more respect and love than most people give it. (Ditto for rubbing your vagina against sofa ends, pillows, and other inanimate objects.)
“It’s a long lost art,” says Sadie Allison, PhD, founder of sex toy boutique TickleKitty.com and author of Tickle His Pickle–Your Hands-on Guide to Penis Pleasing. “When I was in high school I was waiting to lose my virginity, but I did a lot of other stuff leading to signs of sexual arousal — like dry humping.”
Yet, dry humping isn’t just something people do before they’re ready to have penetrative sex or be completely naked in front of a partner. For people who have clitorises, dry humping can lead to mind-blowing orgasms. “Clitoral stimulation for cisgender women is the goddess of sex, but is typically overlooked due to our patriarchal view on sex and pleasure,” says Alexis Thomas, owner and sex educator of Taboo Tabou.
While people with penises can get pleasure from outercourse, dry humping is all about the clitoris. The repetitive motion applies constant friction and pressure to the clit. So as long as you’re doing it right, there’s a good chance it’ll rock your world.
Not sure how to do it right? We talked to Dr. Allison, Thomas, and other sexperts for tips on getting the most out of dry humping. Read on for their advice, and consider adding dry humping back to your foreplay Rolodex.
Choose your clothes carefully.
You can have an orgasm with your clothes on, but it’s going to be a lot harder if you’re wearing super thick denim. The point is to put pressure on your clitoris, so if you’re heading to bae’s house and you know you’ll be doing some dry humping, then wear something thin. The thinner the barrier to your clit is, the more likely you’ll be able to get off.
Do a little prep work.
Dry humping is like penetrative sex in that you might need a little foreplay to make an orgasm happen. So Dr. Allison suggests excusing yourself to the restroom after you and your partner have been making out, but before you start grinding on each other. Take your time in the bathroom to rub your clit and get yourself close to orgasm. “There’s nothing wrong with you prepping yourself a little bit,” she says. Consider it “priming the area.”
Get into position.
If you want an orgasm, Dr. Allison says, then you need to find a position that helps you control the speed, position, and angle of how your clitoris is rubbing against your partner’s body.
If your partner has a penis or is sporting a strap-on, Dr. Allison suggests you get on top. “Tilt your pelvis forward and then move your hips around until you find the aha moment against the erection [or sex toy,]” she says. You can also straddle your partner on the couch, which might make it easier to feel the pressure around your whole vulva, she says.
Of course, dry humping doesn’t have to involve both partner’s genitals and there are plenty of fun body parts to play around with, says Rosara Torrisi, PhD, an AASECT certified sex therapist and the founder of the Long Island Institute of Sex Therapy. You can rub against someone’s knee, thigh, hand, nose, chin, or even a vibrator attached to someone’s leg. “Anything that has extra hardness can work,” Dr. Torrisi says.
Consider adding sex toys.
Dry humping might seem like some desperate, spontaneous act, but putting a little thought into it can really pay off. That can mean choosing to wear silky underwear like Dr. Allison suggested, or breaking out some sex toys. “Wearing an internal vibrator like the Jive will totally give you an advantage,” Dr. Allison says. If your partner has a penis or is wearing a strap-on, they could even wear a vibrating cock ring to make dry humping a little more fun.
Remember: It’s all about the clit.
“The main thing for people to remember is that you’re going to try getting some constant friction on the clit,” Dr. McGuire says. The problem is that many people’s clitorises are tucked behind their labia — that’s no problem when you’re opening your vaginal lips for penetrative or oral sex, but does make it more difficult to feel that constant friction when dry humping. So Dr. Allison suggests making your underwear work for you.
“If you adjust your panties to be in between your lips, they’ll push your labia apart so you can feel more contact on your clitoris,” she says.
Be careful about bodily fluids.
If you’re leaving your clothes on, dry humping can pretty much guarantee you’ll be safe from sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies. But if you strip down to your underwear or decide to get fully naked, be mindful of bodily fluids.
“Every year a couple people are dry humping with little to no clothing on and babies happen,” Dr. McGuire says. It’s incredibly rare, but it is possible to get pregnant or contract an STI like chlamydia or gonorrhea if your partner’s semen or vaginal fluid gets on your vulva.
Don’t take it too seriously.
Just like any other kind of sex, mishaps can happen during dry humping. Maybe your partner’s knee will slip just as you’re grinding against it, or maybe you won’t be able to find a good angle. Dr. Torrisi’s advice? Just laugh it off and move on. “If you thought that something would feel good and it doesn’t, try something else,” she says. After all, this is all about figuring out what feels good for you.