Does Fingering Pose an STD Risk?

A finger cot is a condom for your finger. They can be purchased or made from latex or nitrile gloves.. (c) 2008 Elizabeth R. Boskey licensed to About.com, Inc.

What is fingering?

Fingering is a type of sexual activity that involves sexual penetration of a partner's body using one or more fingers. Fingering sexually can involve inserting fingers into either the vagina or the rectum, and it is sometimes a part of mutual masturbation. Many people engage in fingering as part of early sexual exploration. It can be enjoyed on its own or as a part of foreplay, and although it is not to everyone's taste, the activity can be sexually exciting for both partners.

Fingering is considered to be a relatively safe sexual activity, but it is possible for fingering to transmit certain STDs. To make fingering safer, it is a good idea to wear a latex or nitrile glove or a finger cot (a single finger glove). Such barriers protect both partners. They keep any bacteria or viruses that may be under the fingernails from getting access to the delicate mucosal skin of the vagina or rectum, and they also keep any pathogens found in those areas from getting under the nails or into any cuts on the hands.

If gloves feel like they're too much of an intrusion during fingering, thorough hand washing is a good idea -- both before and after sex. (It's actually a good idea whether or NOT you're wearing gloves!) You may also want to clean under your fingernails and keep your nails trimmed and filed. That way they won't snag or cut a partner's delicate skin. However, be careful to avoid cutting your skin when you cut your nails.

Open wounds are an invitation for bacteria.

It's worth noting that one way to make the use of gloves more appealing during sex is to buy latex and nitrile gloves in different colors. Purple, blue, and black gloves are widely available, and many people find these colors to be more aesthetically pleasing than the plain old white gloves that used to be the default.

Wearing gloves that are the right size for your hands will also help them be less intrusive during sex, as you won't feel either restricted by their presence or worried about them falling off in the heat of the moment.

Examples: Both men and women may enjoy fingering -- either performing it or receiving it. However it is a good idea to wash your hands both before and after engaging in this, or any, sexual activity. That way you keep you and your partner safe from bacteria, viruses, and anything else that may be on your hands or under your nails.

When pathogens are spread in an unusual way, from a place where they are not usually associated with infecting, they are sometimes referred to as fomites. However, fomite transmission is more correctly used to refer to disease transmission by objects than by unusual body parts. Therefore, it's probably not the best way to describe transmission of pathogens that live under the fingernails.

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