Medically reviewed by Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph.D., R.N., CRNA — Written by Adrienne Santos-Longhurst on February 27, 2019

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Yes, for the most part, dry humping is safe. Dry humping is the act of humping without penetration.

There’s no risk of pregnancy, but if you’re not careful, you can still get a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

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STIs can be transmitted through fluid exchange or skin-to-skin contact.

It’s important that you talk to your partner about your STI status and ask them about theirs before engaging in sexual activity.

When you’re both informed, you can discuss how to safely practice dry humping or other activities.

Read on to learn different techniques, positions to try, and more.


Don’t knock dry humping until you’ve tried it!

It may not always look hot and the act can be far from graceful, but dry humping can be quite sexually gratifying.

Sure, there may be some contorting required and your partner might accidentally flip you off the bed in the process, but like any other new adventure, it’s totally what you make it.

Try not to let unnecessary worrying or preconceived notions about the act distract you from this super-hot experience.


How you go about it — from how much or how little you wear to how far you go — depends on what you want from it.

You can do it fully clothed or in your underwear. You can do it standing or sitting, lying down, or even hanging upside down, if you’re so acrobatically inclined.

The great thing about dry humping is that there isn’t a right or wrong technique.

It all comes down to rubbing against yourself — or your partner — in a position that provides plenty of friction to your genitals.


This is one of the many perks of dry humping!

There are several ways you can enjoy dry humping solo. The key is to find something to rub up against that’s free of sharp edges and soft enough to enjoy without risking a conversation with a nurse in the ER.

This can be anything from a pillow or a stuffed toy to an upholstered piece of furniture.


Mutual pleasure is the most important thing here, so you’ll want to move together in a way that feels good for both of you.

This could be rubbing your genitals against their thigh, butt, or any other part of the body that feels good.

If you want to use dry humping as a means of foreplay, enjoy the tease and slowly work your way to whatever other type of sex you’re both up for.

Otherwise, keeping your clothes on may be the way to go.

Just make sure to keep things dry — in the safe sex sense — and be aware of any potential skin-to-skin contact.


When it comes to what to wear, some things are definitely better than others.

First, you’ll want to steer clear of zippers and belt buckles to avoid the risk of injury.

Here are some other pointers:

Opt for thin, silky materials for enhanced sensation and easier slide —the thinner the better.Wear something loose enough to allow extra room for your erection.

How much friction you get will depend on the position.

Some positions are better than others, depending on whether you’re flying solo or dry humping with a partner.

Some positions for partners:

Missionary. Regardless of the equipment — and by equipment we mean penis or vagina — one person kneeling between the other’s legs, doing most of the rubbing and thrusting, can provide enough friction to get you both off. Cowgirl or reverse cowgirl. Don’t let the outdated name of the position fool you, because this position can be enjoyed by anyone. This basically entails straddling the other person while they’re sitting or lying down. Regardless of which way you face and who’s on top, this position lets both parties get some good friction.Side by side. Face each other, interlink your legs, and rub away. This position lets you both rub your genitals against the other’s thigh for maximum pleasure times two.

Try these if you’re riding solo:

Rub against a pillow. Lie on top of a pillow or hold it between your legs and rub and squeeze to your crotch’s content. Other equally hot variations on pillow humping include placing a pillow at the corner of your bed and straddling it or stacking three pillows and riding the pile.Straddle an armrest. This one’s best for people with vaginas, but those with penises can make it work, too. Find an upholstered easy chair or couch, carefully straddle the armrest, and ride it. Rub back and forth and side to side — whatever feels good.Get between the mattress and box spring. If you have a penis, the mattress and box spring — as long as it’s sufficiently padded — may provide a great place to slip it in. Depending on the height of the bed, stand facing the mattress and lean your body accordingly. Once in place, slip your penis between the two mattresses and thrust.

There’s much more to sexual pleasure than just the genitals, so use your hands to explore your body and theirs.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of a hand running down your spine or two hands eagerly grasping your bottom and pulling you closer.

Here are some “handy” tips for dry humping by yourself or with someone else:

Use your hands to guide them. Dry humping can take some trial and error. Use your hands to take away some of the error and guide them to where it feels good.

Bringing sex toys into the mix can take dry humping to another level, whether you’re on your own or playing with your partner.

Here’s how to have fun with toys:

Wear a penis ring. A vibrating penis ring worn under the clothes is an effortless way to spice up any sex act and maintain an erection, too.Tuck a vibrator inside your pillowcase. This is an easy way to really step up your pillow humping game.

Just like with masturbation and intercourse, dry humping can allow you enough stimulation to orgasm.

The buildup of sexual tension can be easily followed by an amazing release if you’re open to it.

Once you find a position or movement that feels good, keep at it and see how far it takes you.


The minute you come into contact with someone’s bodily fluids you put yourself at risk for an STI.

Some STIs, including genital herpes, HPV, and crabs, can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact.

Keeping your clothes on and using condoms and dental dams is the best way to avoid a slip-up.


If you’re truly dry humping and there isn’t any penile-vaginal penetration, then pregnancy isn’t possible. Keep your clothes on and you’ll be fine.


If you’re open to taking things further — or will be dry humping in flimsy attire poised for a wardrobe malfunction — have condoms ready.

It’s better to have a condom on hand and not need it than have nothing at all.

See more: What Does It Mean To Toss Your Salad, Definition Of Toss Salad


Adding dry humping to your sexual repertoire is a low-risk alternative to intercourse and a fun way to step up your foreplay game.

Done right, you can enjoy as much pleasure from dry humping as other forms of sex.


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Medically reviewed by Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph.D., R.N., CRNA — Written by Adrienne Santos-Longhurst on February 27, 2019