What’s Abstinence and Outercourse?
The definition of abstinence is when you don’t have sex. Outercourse is other sexual activities besides vaginal sex. Sexual abstinence and outercourse can mean different things to different people.
How does Abstinence work?
People are abstinent for lots of different reasons. Sometimes people use abstinence as birth control to prevent pregnancy.
Abstinence can mean different things depending on who you ask. Many people say abstinence is not doing ANY kind of sexual stuff with another person, including vaginal, oral, and anal sex — that’s what we’re calling abstinence here.
Abstinence prevents pregnancy by keeping semen away from the vagina, so the sperm cells in semen can’t get to an egg and cause pregnancy. If you’re abstinent 100% of the time, pregnancy can’t happen.
People sometimes only use abstinence to prevent pregnancy on days they’re fertile (most likely to get pregnant), but they may have vaginal sex at other times. This is called fertility-awareness.
Anybody can be abstinent, no matter your age, gender, sexuality, or the sexual experiences you’ve had before. People are abstinent off and on for reasons that may change over time, and a few are abstinent their whole lives. You can choose to be abstinent whenever you want, even if you’ve had sex before.
For some people, abstinence means not having any kind of sex. For other people, abstinence only means not having vaginal sex, but other sexual activities are allowed.
When it comes to preventing pregnancy, all the sexy stuff besides vaginal sex is called “outercourse.”
How does Outercourse work?
Many couples want to be sexual with each other without having vaginal sex and/or risking pregnancy. Outercourse prevents pregnancy the same way abstinence (and all other forms of birth control) do: by keeping sperm away from an egg.
Using outercourse as birth control means you do some sexual activities, but you don’t have vaginal sex (penis-in-vagina) or get any semen (cum) in the vagina. This way, the sperm cells in semen can’t get to an egg and cause pregnancy.
Some outercourse examples include kissing, massage, masturbating, using sex toys on each other, dry humping (grinding), and talking about your fantasies. There are lots of creative ways to get sexual pleasure from outercourse. But keep in mind that some kinds of outercourse can spread STDs if there’s skin-to-skin genital contact, or if your partner’s sexual fluids get on or in your genitals or mouth.
People may also choose to have oral sex and/or anal sex. Oral sex won’t lead to pregnancy, and anal sex doesn’t cause pregnancy either (unless semen spills out into the vagina). But both anal and oral sex can spread STDs — you can help prevent STDs by using a condom during anal sex, and condoms or dental dams during oral sex.