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Does Fingering Pose an STD Risk?

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Updated April 12, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Definition: Fingering is a type of sexual activity that involves penetration using one or more fingers. Fingering 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.

Fingering is considered to be a relatively safe sexual activity, but it can transmit certain STDs. To make fingering safer, it is a good idea to wear a latex or nitrile glove or a finger cot. These 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.

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.

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