The 411 On Fingering

by Kristin T.

January 15, 2023

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If your partner has a vulva (or if you do…many of these tips do double duty for masturbation) and you’d like to learn to pleasure them better, you’ve come to the right place. Now, come hither as we discuss some of the most important tips for taking your fingering prowess from “meh” to “oh yeah!”

When you hear the term “fingering” (or finger-banging, or “third base” if you’re 15), you may think of the act of thrusting one’s fingers in and out of a vagina…but there’s a lot more to it than that! Fingering typically encompasses vaginal insertion, yes, but there’s also tons of external play involved that should be used to build up to that. Fingering is a nuanced activity that can be used as foreplay, or it can be a standalone sex act that gives TONS of pleasure to the receiver. Read on for the 411 on fingering a vulva, to make sure your next session is as smooth and sexually stimulating as possible.

Preparation:

1. Make sure your nails are nice:

Before you even think about putting your fingers inside a vagina or near other sensitive genital tissues, make sure your nails aren’t nasty. They should be clean underneath. Trim them decently short (you don’t want to scratch her) and file to remove any sharp corners, snags, or dangly hangnails. If keeping your long (or acrylic/artificial) nails is important to you, wad a cotton ball behind your nails and wear a rubber glove or finger cot to keep it in place.

2. Wash your hands:

Our hands touch a lot of things throughout the day, and those things often contain many (invisible) things that no one wants anywhere near their vulva! Before you begin any finger play session, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. Dry your hands on a CLEAN towel or paper towel. Both the fingerer and the one being fingered should wash up, so she can step in to help or add her own manual pleasure in the process, if desired.

While fingering is one of the safest sex acts you can do in terms of not contracting/spreading any STIs, hands still need to be clean to prevent other germs that don’t belong anywhere near your vulva from getting down there. Unwanted bacteria can throw off pH balance down there, causing issues from yeast infections to bacterial vaginosis. You also don’t want any bodily fluids entering your skin on your hands or vice versa, so if you have any cuts or sores on your fingers, wear a glove or finger cot to prevent transfer.

2. Use lube:

Even if you’re only going to be “playing outside”, using a lubricant makes your touch that much more pleasurable. Lube will smooth things out as you stimulate her clitoris, and as your fingers glide from one area to another along her vulva. It’s doubly important if you are entering her vagina. While it can be a sex act all on its own, fingering is often used as foreplay in order to begin getting the vagina naturally lubed up. While the vagina produces natural lubrication once aroused, it may not start out that way. Inserting a dry finger in a dry vagina doesn’t feel very good, so take the time to lube up. Lube is even more important for anal fingering, as the anus is not self-lubricating.

Familiarization:

If you want to improve your fingering abilities, it helps to be very well-versed on the anatomy of the vulva. Think about fingering in terms of touching all the external genital parts and ways to touch them first. Focus on the clitoris by rubbing in a circular motion or gently tapping it. Make sure you are aware if there is a prominent clitoral hood you need to pull back (not all vulvas have one). Caress the crease between her legs and the vulva, glide your fingers between the labia, or gently circle the vaginal opening.

Before entering the vagina with your fingers, gradually try any other external stimulation moves you see fit. The slow and gentle buildup and teasing the external parts as you familiarize yourself can be a huge turn-on all by itself. This builds arousal and enhances sensation so everything you do on the inside will be even more pleasurable. Once you know the lay of the land, her reactions will guide the way.

Stimulation:

There’s a lot more to quality fingering than thrusting your finger in and out of the vagina. “The best way to finger someone is to stop pretending your fingers are a penis,” says C. Amina Peterson, tantric sex and intimacy coach at the Atlanta Institute of Tantra & Divine Sexuality in Cosmo’s Fingering article. “The best part of the finger is dexterity,” Peterson explains, “This makes them able to do so many things a penis can’t do.” Not to mention, “mimicking heterosexual sex is limiting to our sexual experiences”, Peterson adds.

While fingering is often seen as a vagina centered act, don’t just immediately start “woodpeckering” or “jackhammering” in and out of the vaginal canal with your fingers. Remember to start on the outside, especially since many vulva owners cannot climax without some clitoral stimulation. Then, once you have done plenty of external stimulation and are ready to “play inside”, slowly & gently explore the vagina first. Always start with one finger so you have the best dexterity and range of motion, though many may find they prefer the feeling of two fingers.

Try to locate the g-spot and pay special attention to that…if your partner likes that sensation. It is usually a few inches in, on the front side of the vaginal canal; you can do a “come hither” motion with your finger to find it. Take your time. Appreciate all the different textures you feel, externally and internally, and pay attention to the receiver’s response to your touch in each spot. Once you locate the g-spot or another spot that just feels good to them, a consistent & rhythmic tapping or pressing motion is usually the ticket to O-town. Talk to the receiver about what they are really enjoying (more on the importance of communication later) and do more of that!

Experimentation:

Once you’re familiar with the basics, you can look for ways to make things even better by experimenting. Try different speeds, depths, motions/patterns of touch, and different numbers of fingers. Caress her inner thighs or her butt. Try to add in nipple stimulation (with your mouth or your free hand), or have her touch her own breasts or wherever else feels good. You can also both try lying or sitting in different positions and configurations to see what makes for the easiest reach for the giver and the most pleasure for the receiver. Don’t be afraid to use pillows or positioning aids as needed…they’re not just for P-in-V sex! Just like during penetrative sex, angles are important and can make a huge difference!

Fingering is also a great way to experiment with various sex toys or enhancements. Add a finger vibe for some extra buzzy clitoral stimulation, or get all her external bits super turned-on and sensitive with a little wand play first. Since you’re already going to be using lube and you’ll only need a little, make it a super-silky, high-quality one. You can also try and see if a CBD lube changes the sensation. A G-spot cream or stimulating serum might also change the game for vaginal fingering, and it may be easier to try during a fingering session than during penetrative sex.

Communication:

The best way to learn how to finger better is to communicate about it. Ask your partner what feels good, both inside and outside. Even better, have them show you what they do when they masturbate, so you can replicate some of those motions and locations to focus stimulation on. You might also find it really sexy to just watch! It’s perfectly okay…and can actually be really hot…to talk to the receiver about what they’re feeling and loving in the heat of the moment.

Don’t be afraid to try anal fingering, either, but make sure you talk about it first so it doesn’t come as a complete surprise. The best part of anal fingering is that it can be enjoyed by everyone with a butthole! There are a lot of sensitive nerve endings in and around the anus that feel really good when stimulated with a finger, whether you have a penis or a vagina.

Remember, most vulva owners can orgasm multiple times in short succession, without a refractory period like penis owners. If you are clearly doing something right based on her body’s response, it’s ok to keep doing it unless she tells you to stop. It is possible for parts of the genitals to feel overstimulated to the point of feeling like numbness or pain after awhile, so if she says stop or uses your safe word, stop. Too much sexual pleasure, though, is rarely a bad thing!

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