5 Ways Non-Penetrative ‘Frottage’ Sex Can Supply You With All the Pleasure You Could Ever Want

Photo: Getty Images/Silke Woweries
The word frottagewhich comes from the French word frott, which means "rub"isn't just fun to say; it's fun to do, as well. Frottage “is a word used for the non-penetrative sex that happens when two or more bodies rub together,” says sex educator Searah Deysach, owner of pleasure-product company Early to Bed. “Clothes on or off, this is a fun way to explore sexuality without penetration for just about anyone.”

No matter your relationship structure, gender, or sexual orientation, practicing the sex act of frottage (which is basically a fancy way to say dry humping, grinding, outercourse, or even heavy petting) stands to offer benefits to your pleasure practice, no matter how intimate your practice gets. This makes it accessible to all people, along every point of their respective sexual journey.

Experts In This Article

Frottage involves rubbing erogenous zones together, which can have the effect of stimulating nerve-dense pleasure spots. “For someone with a clitoris, the sensations one gets from rubbing can be easily orgasmic,” says Deysach. To her point, research supports the notion that for the majority of vulva owners, clitoral stimulation during sex is either necessary for reaching orgasm period or increasing the quality of an orgasm in question. “For penis-havers, rubbing against another penis, vulva, or butt can feel super-fun even without penetration,” Deysach adds.

Frottage allows people who aren’t interested in penetrative intercourse or can’t have penetrative sex to still be sexually intimate.

Orgasm notwithstanding, frottage allows people who aren’t interested in penetrative intercourse or can’t have penetrative sex to still be sexually intimate. “For people who have health challenges that impede penetrative sexual function, like erectile difficulty, premature ejaculation, or vaginismus, frottage is still on the table,” says Goody Howard MSW, MPH, resident sex educator for vegan-friendly condom and lubricant company Royal.

Frottage can happen with clothes on or off, which is both a pleasure and safe-sex win. With clothing acting as a barrier, STI transmission is less likely (but practicing safe sex with recommended contraception and tools is also certainly recommended). Because it doesn't involve penetration, pain after sex isn't at play here, either.

5 tips to get the most out of your frottage practice

1. Do it solo

As good as frottage can feel with a partner, it's worth trying as part of your masturbation practice. Stuffed animals, pillows, sex pillows, couch corners, and chair arms can all be just as fun to hump as a human, according to Deysach. Simply position the aid at a pleasurable angle, and then get to frotting.

2. Be intentional with your underwear and outerwear

Wearing your thickest pair of pants may sound counterintuitive, but Howard says denim can actually take the sesh from zero to ohh! “Denim is a high-friction fabric that provides pleasurable friction to those who need it [to get off],” she says, adding that the seams, in particular, can provide a texture that feels so good. “Jean material warms up with consistent motion, which can heat up playtime in a fun way,” she says.

Alternatively, if you’re planning to frot pantsless, Deysach recommends opting for a slinky, soft underwear material, like silk, which can create a pleasurable gliding sensation. (Lace lingerie, while visually sexy, can actually become physically uncomfortable due to all that frotting friction, she warns.)

3. Use lube

“If you are experimenting with naked frottage with another person, try adding silicone lube to your genitals or your—and their—thighs for slippery humping fun,” says Deysach. Promescent Silicone Lube, Uberlube, and Sliquid Silver are all recommended options for this.

If, however, you’re planning to keep some or all of your garments on, substitute the silicone-based lube with a water-based one, like Sliquid Sassy, because silicone-based lube is much harder to get out of clothes.

4. Add in a sex toy

“There are vibrators and non-vibrating sex toys that can add fun to your frottage play,” says Deysach. "Ultimately, whichever you choose will vary based on your individual pleasure-preferences, though." Some might opt for a butt plug, while others may prefer nipple clamps, or traditional vibrators, for instance.

“If you both have a vulva, another option is to nestle a wand-style vibe between your bodies and share in the vibration,” Deysach says. "There are also panty vibrators that clip right inside underwear so you can easily grind up against the toy while leaving your clothes on,” she says. For two examples, consider the We-Vibe Moxie and Screaming O Panty Vibe.

5. Switch up who’s on top

To reiterate: There is no right or wrong way to practice frottage in solo or partnered play. If, for example, your partner is generally on top, consider swapping, and vice versa.

Sexperimenting is the name of the game here.

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.
  1. Herbenick, Debby et al. “Women’s Experiences With Genital Touching, Sexual Pleasure, and Orgasm: Results From a U.S. Probability Sample of Women Ages 18 to 94.” Journal of sex & marital therapy vol. 44,2 (2018): 201-212. doi:10.1080/0092623X.2017.1346530

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