Uh Oh, We Forgot the Condoms: How to Have Sex Without Penetration


Who says that sex absolutely has to involve penetration? There are a ton of other ways to have fun, all while limiting the risk of STBBI transmission. No condom? No problem!

Your evening with your crush went so well! You had a blast!

You agree to go home together. Once there, you continue the steamy make-out session you started in the taxi on your way over and start to undress. Your clothes—as intertwined as your tongues—now litter the bedroom floor. You’ve been dreaming of this ever since your second vodka soda.

Still more making out, wandering hands, flushed skin pressed together: Your bodies are like two magnets on fire. The evening is getting hot!

Things are progressing (wink) and getting more and more interesting (wink wink). You open the bedside table’s first drawer and… shit! No more condoms.

What do you do when you want to have sex but don’t have any condoms?

Do we just do it anyway?

Let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room (may the one who has never given in to temptation throw the first bottle of lube). We know that when our bodies are pressed together, our arousal is overflowing, and our hormones get the better of us, it can be veeeery tempting to turn to the #YOLO side of the force—even for just a second—and tell ourselves that we will deal with the consequences later.

In case you ever have a “I know, but I was only inside for like a second!” moment, we advise that you go get tested.

According to Club Sexu sex researcher and content creator Morag Bosom, “Making ourselves believe that we’re going to be fine if we skip penetration and just touch and rub each other, well… that method has been tested and is not approved! It’s also important to remember that there are many sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs) that don’t require penetration for transmission to occur.”

This is why she invites us to be creative and discover the world of nonpenetrative sex when we don’t have a condom handy!

No condom? No problem!

What if we made the most of the “limitations” set by the absence of condoms and opened up a new range of sexual possibilities?

Because let’s face it, as soon as a penis enters the picture, penetration is often one of the first practices that come to mind, even though there are a whole lot of other activities we can explore that are both fun and safe.

Ode to making out

Why shouldn’t our intertwined tongues be the main course? “Making out is often considered the appetizer before getting to the main meal,” says Bosom. “However, this practice has a lot of potential, especially when we give it the whole floor. It can be a very nice playground.”

Yep, it can be very exciting to kiss for a long time and put French kissing back in the spotlight.

Bring on the dry humping

Dry humping involves rubbing one’s genitals against an object (e.g., a pillow) or partner while keeping  one’s clothes, or at least one’s underwear, on.

What is appealing about this practice? First, it can be really exciting to caress and explore our partner’s body with a certain amount of restraint.

Plus, as the genitals are never in direct contact with each other, the risk of STBBI transmission is nil.

“We know that when our naked bodies are rubbing against each other, things can quickly get hot and, on some level, we can no longer trust ourselves,” emphasizes Morag. “So, keeping your clothes or underwear on can help contain the temptation when you’re out of condoms.”

Put your hands (and fingers) up!

Hands down, a good alternative to penetration is using one’s hands and fingers. Internal or external massage, with or without lubricant… simply letting our hands roam freely over each other’s consenting bodies.

“However, I would recommend being careful when you touch yourself down there after touching your partner’s genitals, and vice versa,” warns Morag. “The risk of transmission is present when exchanging bodily fluids, even when it’s via fingers, through microtears on the skin.”

(Don’t) look into my eyes

What if our bedroom turned into a XXX theatre stage?

To limit contact and maximize the heat, we can make masturbation the heart of the session by watching our crush masturbate or letting them watch us while we touch ourselves. We can also masturbate side by side, without ever touching each other.

“It can be very exciting to watch the way our partner touches themselves,” says Morag.

“It gives us access to something very intimate, in addition to providing some tips and tricks on how they like to be touched. This practice is very safe, as long as we keep our hands to ourselves.”

At this point, we can even go all out and integrate sex toys, although, contrary to what you were taught in preschool, you should not share your toys (ideally). If you do want to share them, we suggest that you at least sterilize them before handing them over.

The rules of the game

By now, I’m sure you realized that “no condoms” doesn’t have to mean “boring evening.” Why not make things even more exciting by engaging in some soft BDSM practices?

We can blindfold our partner and caress their body with a feather. We can let them slide an ice cube on our stomach or between our thighs. We can play with handcuffs, hemp ropes, or a small whip. We can tease our partner by caressing everything around the genitals, without ever directly touching them.

Morag suggests going even further. “If we set a playful dynamic, we can really push the concept of soft domination/submission by demanding that our partner keeps a certain distance or allowing them to only touch us in certain places, for instance. By exploring these dynamics, we move beyond the genitals and create an erotic session completely focused on other erogenous zones.”

What about oral sex?

Wondering why we haven’t talked about oral sex yet? That was intentional.

“Many people are tempted to have oral sex if they’re avoiding vaginal or anal penetration, but it’s not a completely safe option,” points out Morag, reminding us that many STBBIs can make their way from mouths to genitals, and vice versa.

“Replacing penetration with oral sex to protect yourself from a potential STBBI is not completely risk-free.”

Listening to audio porn or watching an erotic video together, engaging in dirty talk… There are many alternatives to penetration limited only by our imaginations.

In the end, an empty box of condoms doesn’t have to spell awkwardness or the end of an evening. On the contrary, this unexpected event can become the starting point of a series of explorations that might even give you great ideas for future steamy nights.

That said, if you absolutely want that penetration—while remaining responsible—nothing stops you from running to the pharmacy or convenience store if it’s still open. Along the way, we can tease or talk dirty to each other discreetly in order to keep the fire going.

And for those of you who have more foresight, why not order condoms in advance, so that you always have a small stash on hand? As our friends—and Dépistafest 2024 partners—at Slipp say, safe sex is self-care.

  • Holway, G. V. et Hernandez, S. M. (2018). Oral sex and condom use in a US national sample of adolescents and young adults. Journal of Adolescent Health, 62(4), 402-410. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2017.08.022

    Strome, A., Waselewski, M. et Chang, T. (2022). Youths’ knowledge and perceptions of health risks associated with unprotected oral sex. The Annals of Family Medicine, 20(1), 72-76. https://doi.org/10.1370/afm.2761