Frottage

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What is Frottage / Dry Humping

Frottage is the technical term for "dry humping". It is defined as a sexual activity where  people rub their bodies against each other. Frottage can be performed either naked or clothed. The definition of dry humping is, in other words, not specific about the level of skin-to-skin contact. There can be some body fluid involvement. (That depends on how aroused each partner becomes, as well as how much clothing they're wearing.) In other words, dry humping may not be so "dry".

It is, however, dryer than vaginal or anal intercourse! 

Is Frottage Safe Sex?

When done clothed, frottage is a very safe form of sexual contact. (Well, it safe as long as nobody falls off the bed... or the couch). There is neither exchange of bodily fluids or skin to skin contact. Therefore the only likely STD transmission route is kissing. As such, many people find it an enjoyable, early sexual activity with a new partner. 

When done naked, however, frottage may be associated with some amount of risk. Some diseases, such as genital warts, can be passed from skin to skin during the act of dry humping. However, frottage is still much safer than many other forms of sexual activity. You can also make it safer by covering any potentially infectious skin. For example, you could wear underwear or put band-aids over unexplained bumps or sores. 

A similar sexual act, primarily discussed in lesbians, is tribadism.

However, tribadism is usually defined as rubbing the vulva against a leg or other body part for sexual stimulation. (This can also be done by a woman in a non-lesbian couple.) In contrast, frottage does not always include direct genital stimulation. It certainly can include such stimulation. It is just defined as body rubbing more generally.

 

Who has Frottage?

Dry humping is a relatively common form of sexual engagement between adolescents and adults. It's something that people all sexual orientations and gender identities may enjoy. Frottage can be engaged in as an enjoyable activity in and of itself. It can also be used as a form of foreplay before other types of sexual interaction.

Frottage doesn't involve penetration or, often, direct genital stimulation. Therefore, some people may not consider it to be a form of sex. However, as it can lead to pleasure, arousal, and even orgasm, I would tend to disagree. That said, it all depends on a person's definition of sex. There is not a universal definition that everyone agrees on. 

Non-Consensual Frottage

Frottage can be used as a form of sexual assault. Inappropriate and unwanted sexual body rubbing has been reported as problem both in private and in certain public places. Many young women, in particular, have been victimized in this way. As with other types of sexual assault, this can lead to short- and long-term emotional problems.

 

A desire for non-consensual frottage, or frotteurism, has been classified as a paraphilia in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). Called Frotteuristic Disorder in the DSM-5, the diagnosis requires fantasizing about, or rubbing against, a non-consenting person. In contrast, an enjoyment of consensual frottage is not considered to be a psychological problem. 

Sources:

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Bonnar J, Lamprecht V, O'Conner E. Alternatives to vaginal intercourse practiced during the fertile time among calendar method users in Ireland. Adv Contracept. 1997 Jun-Sep;13(2-3):173-7.

Clark SK, Jeglic EL, Calkins C, Tatar JR. More Than a Nuisance: The Prevalence and Consequences of Frotteurism and Exhibitionism. Sex Abuse. 2016 Feb;28(1):3-19. doi: 10.1177/1079063214525643.

Johnson RS, Ostermeyer B, Sikes KA, Nelsen AJ, Coverdale JH. Prevalence and treatment of frotteurism in the community: a systematic review. J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2014;42(4):478-83.

Lyons A, Smith AM, Grierson JW, von Doussa H. Australian men's sexual practices in saunas, sex clubs and other male sex on premises venues. Sex Health. 2010 Jun;7(2):186-92. doi: 10.1071/SH09101.

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