How can you be more sexual, more intimate, and even more orgasmic, but not have sexual intercourse? Would you believe that the answer to this sex riddle is “outercourse?”

Most people don’t know that this alternative to intercourse can benefit their sex lives in so many ways. Whether you’re seeking to abstain, practice safer sex or spice things up, the red hot sexual exchanges involved are well worth exploring.

Outercourse is the umbrella term for any kind of sex play that doesn’t involve oral or traditional sex. It has been highlighted as a means to sexual gratification by safer sex proponents for years. It’s ideal in minimizing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and the risk of pregnancy, although the method is not completely foolproof – depending on how much clothing you keep on. Depending on the layers between you and your lover, you may still want to use a condom while practicing this method.

Lovers of all ages and in all sorts of relationships may engage in outercourse for any number of reasons, finding it ideal when:

— They want to abstain from intercourse.

— They don’t have the energy or desire to "go all the way.”

— They long to add some variety to lovemaking.

— One partner has an infection.

— She is menstruating.

— When much-needed contraceptives or prophylactics are not handy – again when not using birth control, it’s best to keep many layers of clothing between you and your lover.

Outercourse is for anybody looking for free and simple ways to express their sexual longings and excitement while avoiding penetration. Best yet, its passion-promoting positive emotional and relationship side effects are great.

Lovers appreciate outercourse in its total-body sex focus. Partners attend to the entire body rather than zeroing in on the genitals. In doing so, lovers may experience increased body comfort, including when nude. Ultimately, they learn more about their bodies and all of their erogenous zones.

Sex also becomes more leisurely and pleasurable in so many ways. With sex no longer goal-oriented, couples can relish pleasures often missed along the way. Going along for the ride without actually saddling up can take a lot of the performance pressure off of men in particular.

Women, too, may find relief in not having to reach climax via intercourse, especially if that’s not their norm. Some women may, in fact, become more orgasmic in focusing on ways to have orgasm without sex.

Outercourse allows lovemaking to last longer, and couples are given the opportunity to soak in more of what the sexual experience is about. Partners may feel closer and more connected with each other and themselves. For new lovers, outercourse allows them to build trust while feeling sexually connected. For older, experienced lovers, outercourse can hurl them back in time, helping them to reclaim the thrill of the forbidden nature of sex.

All of these benefits lead to lovers being more relaxed for those times they want to have all-out intercourse.

So what exactly does having outercourse entail? Outercourse embodies any number of sexual activities, including:

Erotic Talk. Whether in the boudoir, over the phone, via text or online, lovers can catapult each other to a carnal cosmos with some lascivious lingo. Wanton words not only amp things up, but escalate interactions to orgasm when complemented by some autoerotic action.

Sensual Storytelling. Between reading sexy stories and looking at erotica, lovers can entertain themselves for hours while playing with their own hot spots. Fantasizing that they are part of the story further lends to a tale’s climactic moments.

Role-Playing. By sharing fantasies, lovers can pick and choose their preferred real-life passion pursuits. Some of the hottest sex scenes haven’t involved any intercourse, like Sharon Stone in “Basic Instinct.”

Lovers can lose themselves in scenarios that capitalize on the fact that your mind is your biggest sex organ.

Erotic Massage. Lovers work every part of the body with scintillating sexual touch.

Kissing. The power of hot’n’heavy make out sessions should never be underestimated, especially when it’s unexpected. Suck face and grope each other like teenagers, eventually showering your lover’s entire body with kisses.

Cybersex. Via instant messaging, E-mail, Internet chatrooms, or cyberspace forums, lovers can have tech sex of all types. Maximum satisfaction is realized in how much you choose to touch yourself versus your keyboard.

Strip Teases. Eroticism is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to showing some skin. Give your lover his or her own private viewing, being sure to conclude your routine with some lush lip action and titillating touches.

Sexual Enhancement Products. Sex toys were practically made for outercourse. Offering variety, experimentation, and hours of entertainment, lovers can explore each other’s bodies as they tap all of their senses. And these days, with remote controlled devices, this can happen in and out of the bedroom.

Mutual Masturbation. Pleasure yourself for your partner’s pleasure. Or erotically massage each other’s bodies at the same time. Or take turns stimulating the other. In any case, you learn what your partner likes while realizing mutual sexual satisfaction.

Dry sex. Dry humping doesn’t have to die after graduating high school. Lovers can rub up against each other to no end, stimulating each other into oblivion.

Water works. All of this outercourse may cause lovers to work up a sweat. Or maybe you just want to get wet. Taking to a bath or shower allows for the perfect post-rub down.

No matter what your outercourse forte, it bears warning. To keep your sex session focused solely on outercourse, the trick is not to get carried away.

Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright is a sex educator, relationship expert, columnist and founder of Sexuality Source Inc. She is the author of several books including, "Touch Me There! A Hands-On Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots."

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