Fingering (sexual act)

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Illustration of fingering

Fingering is typically the use of fingers or hands to sexually stimulate the vulva (including the clitoris), vagina, or anus.[1] [2] Vaginal fingering is legally and medically called digital penetration or digital penetration of the vagina.

Fingering may be performed on oneself (masturbation) or by or with a sexual partner. When performed on the vulva or vagina by a sexual partner, it is a form of mutual masturbation, and is analogous to a handjob (the manual stimulation of the penis).[3][4] It may be used for sexual arousal or foreplay, constitute an entire sexual encounter,[4] or be used as a form of non-penetrative sexual activity.[5]



Parts of the vulva, especially the clitoris, are erogenous zones.[6] Massage of the vulva, and in particular the clitoris, is the most common way for a woman to achieve an orgasm.[7][8][9] Studies indicate that 70-80% of women require direct clitoral stimulation to achieve orgasm.[9][10] 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.[11] The rest of the genitals are also stimulated by fingering.[11]


While the vagina is not especially sensitive as a whole, its lower third (the area close to the entrance) has concentrations of the nerve endings that can provide pleasurable sensations when stimulated during sexual activity.[7][8][12]

Fingering the vagina is often performed in an effort to stimulate an area which may be termed the G-spot. The G-spot is reportedly located roughly 5 cm (2.0 in) 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.[13]

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 towards her pubic bone. Medical professionals suggest washing the hands before contact with the vagina, to ensure proper hygiene, especially when moving between different orifices.[14]


Anal fingering 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.[15][16][17]

Anal fingering can also stimulate the perineal sponge in women.

Safety and sexual assault[edit]

Fingering is generally considered safe sex.

How digital penetration without consent is classified legally depends on the jurisdiction. For example, penetration without consent of the vagina or anus with a finger is called "rape" in Australia[18] and "forcible rape" in the US.[19] In Scotland, the term "rape" is only used for penetration with a penis,[20] whereas penetration with a finger can be "sexual assault by penetration".[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Winks C (1997). The New Good Vibrations Guide to Sex. Cleis Press. p. 132. ISBN 1573440698.
  2. ^ Rathus SA, Nevid JS, Fichner-Rathus L (2005). Human sexuality in a world of diversity. Allyn & Bacon. p. 275. ISBN 0205406157.
  3. ^ Bruess CE, Schroeder E (2013). Sexuality Education Theory And Practice. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. p. 151. ISBN 978-1449649289.
  4. ^ a b Winks C (1997). The New Good Vibrations Guide to Sex. Cleis Press. pp. 57, 60. ISBN 1573440698.
  5. ^ Upton D (2014). Nursing & Health Survival Guide: Health Promotion. Routledge. p. 52. ISBN 978-1317906179.
  6. ^ O'Connell HE, Sanjeevan KV, Hutson JM (October 2005). "Anatomy of the clitoris". The Journal of Urology. 174 (4 Pt 1): 1189–95. doi:10.1097/ PMID 16145367. Lay summaryBBC News (11 June 2006).
  7. ^ a b Wayne Weiten; Dana S. Dunn; Elizabeth Yost Hammer (2011). Psychology Applied to Modern Life: Adjustment in the 21st Century. Cengage Learning. p. 386. ISBN 978-1-111-18663-0. Retrieved 5 January 2012.
  8. ^ a b Marshall Cavendish Corporation (2009). Sex and Society, Volume 2. Marshall Cavendish Corporation. p. 590. ISBN 978-0761479079. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  9. ^ a b Kammerer-Doak, Dorothy; Rogers, Rebecca G. (June 2008). "Female Sexual Function and Dysfunction". Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics of North America. 35 (2): 169–183. doi:10.1016/j.ogc.2008.03.006. PMID 18486835. Most women report the inability to achieve orgasm with vaginal intercourse and require direct clitoral stimulation ... About 20% have coital climaxes...
  10. ^ Mah, Kenneth; Binik, Yitzchak M (7 January 2001). "The nature of human orgasm: a critical review of major trends". Clinical Psychology Review. 21 (6): 823–856. doi:10.1016/S0272-7358(00)00069-6. PMID 11497209. Women rated clitoral stimulation as at least somewhat more important than vaginal stimulation in achieving orgasm; only about 20% indicated that they did not require additional clitoral stimulation during intercourse.
  11. ^ a b Carroll, Janell L. (2009). Sexuality Now: Embracing Diversity. Cengage Learning. pp. 118, 252, and 264. ISBN 978-0-495-60274-3. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  12. ^ Greenberg JS, Bruess CE, Conklin SC (2010). Exploring the Dimensions of Human Sexuality. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. p. 126. ISBN 978-9814516785.
  13. ^ Rabinerson D, Horowitz E (February 2007). "[G-spot and female ejaculation: fiction or reality?]". Harefuah (in Hebrew). 146 (2): 145–7, 163. PMID 17352286.
  14. ^ "Pussy Fingering". Sex Project. Archived from the original on 26 June 2017. Retrieved 19 August 2010.
  15. ^ "The male hot spot — Massaging the prostate". Go Ask Alice!. 27 September 2002. Retrieved 21 April 2010.
  16. ^ Rosenthal, Martha (2012). Human Sexuality: From Cells to Society. Cengage Learning. pp. 133–135. ISBN 978-0618755714. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
  17. ^ Komisaruk, Barry R.; Whipple, Beverly; Nasserzadeh, Sara; Beyer-Flores, Carlos (2009). The Orgasm Answer Guide. JHU Press. pp. 108–109. ISBN 978-0-8018-9396-4. Retrieved 6 November 2011.
  18. ^ Henry, Nicola (27 March 2018). "Rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment: what's the difference?". The Conversation.
  19. ^ "An Updated Definition of Rape". The United States Department of Justice Archives. 6 January 2012.
  20. ^ "Facts about sexual violence". Rape Crisis Scotland. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
  21. ^ "Rape and sexual assault". Victim Support Scotland. Retrieved 22 September 2020.