Fingering (sexual act)
Fingering is the manual (genital) manipulation of the clitoris or other parts of the vulva, the vagina, the foreskin, or the anus for the purpose of sexual arousal and other sexual stimulation. It may constitute the entire sexual encounter or it may be part of mutual masturbation, foreplay or other sexual activities. To "finger oneself" is to masturbate in this manner. It is analogous to a handjob, the manual stimulation of the penis. These sexual activities may provide sexual pleasure, whether or not used as non-penetrative or penetrative sexual activity.
Vaginal fingering is legally and medically called digital penetration of the vagina, and may involve one or more fingers.
Outside the vagina
Massage of the vulva, and in particular the clitoris, is the most common way for a woman to reach and achieve an orgasm. The clitoral glans or shaft may be massaged, usually through the skin of the clitoral hood, using up-and-down, side-to-side, or circular motions. The rest of the genitals are also stimulated by fingering.
Inside the vagina
Fingering the vagina is often performed in an effort to stimulate the G-spot. The G-spot is reportedly located roughly 5 cm up on the anterior wall of the vagina, forwards toward the navel. It is described as being recognized by its ridges and slightly rougher texture compared to the more cushion-like vaginal cavity walls around it. Fingering this spot, and in effect possibly stimulating the Skene's gland, is commonly cited as a method that may lead to female ejaculation. Parallels are sometimes drawn with the fingering or other manipulation of the male prostate through the anus.
Some women have cited the "come hither" approach as a significant catalyst to orgasm. This technique involves the middle finger, sometimes additionally the index or ring finger, making a hand gesture like "come here" with the palm facing upwards against her pubic bone. There is no technique for stimulating the G-spot in a way that is preferred by all women. Medical professionals suggest washing the hands before contact with the vagina, to avoid spreading bacteria and causing infections. Including the washing of hands after any finger contact with the anus, to avoid the spread of bacteria from the anus to the vagina.
The high concentration of fine-touch nerve endings of the male prepuce can be stimulated by inserting a finger into the foreskin. Inserting a finger in the male prepuce also stimulates the ridged band as well as specialized stretch receptors. While this act is more easily performed when the penis is in a flaccid state, it could also be performed while the penis is erect if there is ample tissue for full coverage of the glans.
The practice may be pleasurable because of the large number of nerve endings in the anal area, and because of the added stimulation gained from stretching the anal sphincter muscles while inserting the finger. A good quality personal lubricant is advisable to both increase the pleasurable sensation and aid insertion. Some people prefer to simply stimulate the outer ring of the anus, while others will follow this by inserting one or more fingers. Fingering may be seen as an act in itself, or as an arousing prelude in preparation for further anal sex. Anal fingering can arouse the receiver, allowing them to relax their anus and prepare them for the insertion of a penis or any other sexual instrument. Anal fingering is also an effective way of stimulating the prostate in males, and thus may bring the receiver to orgasm. Anal fingering can also stimulate the perineal sponge in females.
The practice is generally considered "safe sex" as long as the hands are protected with latex gloves. The nails should be trimmed and filed; long, sharp or jagged nails can cause cuts, injury, or severe infection. If there are cuts, infections, or open wounds on the fingers extreme protection and care is necessary. If finger cots are used they may slip off and remain inside the receptive partner. The hands should be thoroughly washed with soap and warm water before practicing any other activity to avoid spreading bacteria or germs. In stimulating both the anus and vagina, separate latex gloves are to be used for each to avoid cross-contamination.
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