If you're someone who has a vagina and a clitoris, in theory it seems like the more stimulation and penetration you have, the better. But that's not necessarily how it works — plenty of people actually
only enjoy clitoral stimulation
"There's a big group of people with clitorises who need straight clitoral stimulation and want nothing else," explains
Laurie Mintz, PhD, a professor who teaches the psychology of human sexuality, and author of For these people, having an object penetrate them is often too distracting during sex, so they're not able to achieve orgasm, she says. If this sounds like you, it's completely normal, and it doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with your body. But you might have to be a little more creative during sex (especially if your partner has a penis).
Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters — And How To Get It.
Given that, here are some sexy ideas that don't require penetration. And you don't even need a clitoris for some of these tips, because there are definitely activities ahead that would work for all bodies, regardless of genitalia.
Masturbate. According to a survey that Dr. Mintz conducted on college-age students, 94% of people with clitorises know how to have orgasms by themselves. But the issue is that many people forget about those skills during partnered sex. "The most crucial action step is to transfer your self-pleasure to partnered pleasure," she says. If you have a favorite method of stimulating your clitoris while masturbating, do the same thing with your partner.
Practice frottage. It sounds incredibly basic, but keeping your clothes on and dry-humping your partner (aka frottage) while you make out can be unexpectedly steamy and potentially lead to orgasm. Or, you can try positioning a sex pillow or other object underneath you and dry-humping it while your partner rubs other parts of your body, suggests Dr. Mintz.
Use a vibrator. If you're someone with a clitoris, using a vibrator can be the easiest way to fast-track clitoral stimulation, Dr. Mintz says. (And if you haven't tried a vibrator yet, try it.) During partnered sex, consider a couple-specific vibrator that can be used between two bodies ( this one is a good option). Take turns using the vibrator on different body parts or experiment using multiple vibrators on each other at once.
Edge. Bring you or your partner close to an orgasm, and then stop or back off once you're very close, Dr. Mintz suggests. Then, resume stimulating the clitoris and then stop again right before orgasming. Edging can be very fun for people with clitorises, because it provides some suspense, and some people say it can make the final orgasm way more intense, she says.
Sext. All bodies and all brains can sext. If you're not sure what to say in your sext, start by simply asking your partner where they would like you to touch them first. Sexting is a low-key, fun way to communicate to your partner exactly what it is that you enjoy during sex. "What one person needs may vary from encounter to encounter, so every person must get to know what brings them pleasure and be able to communicate that to their partner," Dr. Mintz says. For example, if you prefer clitoral stimulation, why not tell your partner via sext?
Use water for self-pleasure. If you have a bathtub, lie on your back with your legs on either side of the bath faucet, and turn on the water so that the stream hits your clitoris, Dr. Mintz suggests. Or, if you have a removable shower head, take it off and spray it on your vulvar region.
Just breathe. There's a tantric practice called synchronized breathing, during which you and your partner face each other and inhale and exhale at the same time. Syncing up your breath "allows for this juicy energetic connection to occur, specifically if you’re sitting genital to genital," Devi Ward, a tantric sex coach, told Refinery29.
Rub in a figure-8. There's no "right way" to manually stimulate the clitoris, because everyone's nerves are positioned a bit differently, but one common technique is rubbing in a figure-8 shape, Dr. Mintz says.
Consider oral sex. It might seem like anyone who prefers clitoral stimulation over penetration would be a big fan of oral sex, but you have to make sure you talk to your partner and ask them what they like before you go down on them. Maybe their clit tends to be too sensitive for oral? Perhaps they have never orgasmed from oral before? Or maybe they know exactly what does it for them during oral — you never know until you ask.
Circle the clitoral hood. People with clitorises have a flap of skin, called the " clitoral hood," that covers the glans clitoris, which is the part of the clit that has all the nerve endings. Some people have larger clitoral hoods that cover the glans clitoris. Those individuals might find that taking one or two fingers and circling around the clitoral hood feels especially good, because it gets to the pleasure spot that the clit is known for, Dr. Mintz says.
Don't stop until you orgasm. According to Dr. Mintz, the average person with a clitoris requires between 20 and 45 minutes of clitoral stimulation with a partner to orgasm, whereas it only takes four minutes to orgasm on their own. Take your time, and "revel in the sensations of clitoral stimulation," she suggests. Let your partner know that you might need extra time, and be really clear about what you want.
Give or receive a massage. Get naked, then use the palms of your hands to rub your partner's shoulders, and make your way down to their lower back and buttocks. Massages can be sexy, intimate, and erotic whether you intend to give your partner a happy ending or just want to spend time getting to know all the curves of their body.
Make a list of kinks. Sit down with your partner or partners and make a yes-no-maybe list of sexual activities that you want to try, would never try, and might try. (If you're not sure what to put on your list, we made one that you can use here.) Once you're done, be sure to talk about why you made all of your selections.
Stick to your nipples. A 2011 study found that nipple stimulation can mimic the same action and chemical response in the brain that's caused by genital stimulation, and anyone who has nipples has the same number of nerve-endings and can benefit from nipple play. To start, apply some saliva or lube to your hand and stroke, pinch, rub, and glide your partner's nipples.
Let your partner take the wheel. Have one person wear a blindfold, while the other uses a vibrator or their hand to tease different parts of their partner's body, Dr. Mintz says. When you're deprived of one sense, like sight, it can make the sensation of touch feel more intense. Or if both people are comfortable, you can try securing one partner's arms and legs, and let the other person use a vibrator all over their partner's body, she says.