Dry humping is sexual contact, but without bodily fluid contact, usually through underwear or clothes.

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People usually use the term to refer to the rubbing of genitals. This can be when a person rubs them on furniture or two people rub their genitals together through clothing.

Sexual health experts often call dry humping and related behaviors outercourse. Outercourse is safe, and people cannot normally get pregnant or contract a sexually transmitted infection (STI) from dry humping.

Keep reading to learn more about dry humping and how it relates to pregnancy, STIs, and more.

Share on PinterestIt is unlikely a person will get pregnant or catch an STI from dry humping.
Medically known as outercourse, dry humping is a type of sexual contact that can be pleasurable for both partners. A person can also perform outercourse alone as a form of masturbation, for example, by rubbing their clothed genitals on a bed.

It is possible to orgasm from dry humping, especially with prolonged contact when people are aroused. It could also be a form of foreplay before more direct sexual contact.

Outercourse offers several benefits, which include:

Sexual pleasure: Outercourse mimics the sensations of other types of sexual stimulation. This can be pleasurable for both partners, make it possible to orgasm, and promote intimacy. Abstinence: In some religions and cultures, a person must avoid direct genital stimulation or penetrative sex. Outercourse allows people to experience sexual pleasure and intimacy without these types of direct sexual contact.

Dry humping is a lower-risk sexual practice because there is no bodily fluid contact. This almost eliminates the risk of pregnancy and STIs.

The main risk of dry humping, as a risk reduction strategy, is that people might feel tempted to have penetrative intercourse. In some instances of dry humping, such as when people wear flimsy clothing, accidental penetration or bodily fluid contact can occur.

A cautious approach, that involves only dry humping when both partners are fully clothed, can eliminate this risk.

Some other potential risks include:

Genital irritation: Repeated rubbing may irritate the genitals or surrounding skin, causing pain or friction injuries. People should be attentive to how things feel and communicate with a partner if anything hurts, to reduce this risk. Consent issues: Like any sexual contact, dry humping without consent can be traumatic and psychologically harmful. It is not acceptable to dry hump someone against their will or without their permission. Religious and moral issues: While dry humping almost completely negates the risk of pregnancy and STIs, some cultures still oppose it. Religions and moral codes that endorse strict abstinence may condemn any pleasure-seeking contact outside certain commitments, such as married or monogamous relationships.

It is improbable that someone will get pregnant from dry humping. Pregnancy requires the semen to make contact with an egg, which usually involves contact with genitals and bodily fluids. Therefore, if both people keep their clothes on, this is highly unlikely.

However, there are exceptions to this rule. If the genitals come into contact by accident, or if a person’s vagina makes contact with semen shortly after ejaculation, pregnancy is still possible. This might happen when:

two people dry hump, but there are holes in their clothing or underwearsomeone sits naked on a surface where there is ejaculate, such as underwear, shortly after dry humping dry humping leads to intercourse or accidental penetrative sex

Even if these things occur, the risk of pregnancy is low, as the semen would have to enter someone’s vagina and travel to the egg. Brief contact with the skin makes this process unlikely, especially if the semen does not enter the vagina.

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As with pregnancy, the transmission of an STI from dry humping is extremely unlikely.

However, some STIs, such as herpes, require only skin-to-skin contact. Someone may still contract these STIs from dry humping, especially if both partners do not wear clothing.

Most STIs require bodily fluid contact. After dry humping, someone can only contract them if they sit naked on someone else’s fluids, or come into contact with fluid that leaks from someone else’s clothing.

Dry humping is safer than most other sexual practices. Though the contact is less direct, it still offers opportunities for pleasure and even orgasm.

People who want to become intimate with a partner without risking pregnancy or STIs can consider this harm reduction strategy.

As with any sexual practice, it is important to talk openly about each partner’s desires and intentions. At any time, someone can always revoke consent, even if they feel aroused or they gave initial consent.

People who worry about their risk of STIs or pregnancy should talk to a healthcare provider. Regular STI testing can further reduce the risk of transmitting infection or disease.