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14 Fingering Tips If You're Just About To Do It For The First Time

Hand hygiene is super important!
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Many of us viewed fingering as ~the thing~ to do when we were young and horny. Then as we got older, the classic sex move was traded for acts like oralanal, and falling asleep alone with Netflix playing in the background. Regardless, it's time we bring fingering back as one of the main events because let me tell you: It's actually low-key amazing.

"Fingering is using one or several fingers to stimulate the vagina or anus," explains Michelle Murray, a professional counselor with Calmerry. So while you might have thought fingering just meant vaginal play, there's more than one way to enjoy this move.

Zoë Ligon, sex educator and founder of inclusive sex toy store Spectrum Boutique agrees: "Hands are the most versatile sex toy there is," she says. "They're often overlooked and just seen as tools for foreplay, but manual sex is sex."

That said, maybe it's been a while since you last used your fingers for something other than texting—or you might be totally new to the idea of using your hands for pleasure. If this is your first time fingering (or first time fingering in a while), we've got all the tips to get you started and get you or your partner off.

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  1. Get a mani.

    This doesn't mean every time you want to engage in a little finger action you have to head to your local salon. It just means that hand hygiene is vital to having a pleasurable—and safe—fingering experience. Your vagina's a sensitive ecosystem. You should be careful about what you stick in and around it, and this should include hands—whether your own or your partner's.

    Zoë suggests regularly moisturizing your hands, filing your nails (short and blunt is best), and keeping your hands clean—plus cleaning them before and after any sexual activity. "If you're not sure that you've smoothed the edges of your nail enough, run them over your lips and see if you can detect any rough spots you missed," she suggests. Nothing can grind an otherwise enjoyable fingering session to a screeching halt like a stray hangnail scraping your vaginal wall. You tensed up just reading that, right?

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  2. Consider wearing gloves.

    What do you do if you want to keep your nails long? You have a few options. Some women have one or two nails shorter than the rest for sexy situations. If that doesn't fit into your ~aesthetic,~ erotic educator and founder of Organic Loven Taylor Sparks suggests putting some cotton balls under your nails and throwing on some gloves to avoid painful pokes.

    In fact, sex educator Sarah Sloane advises wearing gloves if the fingerer uses nail polish or has rough hands. "While it may be a little clinical sounding, gloves even out the surface of your partner's fingers, which keeps fingernails and calluses from abrading your delicate bits." Plus, this is the perfect time to test out that ER doctor roleplay you've been fantasizing about.

  3. Don't compare yourself to the screen.

    Chances are you've seen actors engage in fingering plenty of times, whether it was in a sexy show like Bridgerton or your favorite porn. It's important to remember that while yes, those scenes are very hot, they're also very unrealistic. In fact, the best fingering may look a little subtler than what you or your partner is used to seeing on a screen. "Take your time," sex educator Kelly Shibari recommends. "This isn't porn. This isn't acting. No pressure."

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  4. Practice solo.

    If you're a lucky owner of a vagina, you have a ready-made practice playground ready to be explored. "The more you know your own body and what brings it the most pleasure, the easier it will be for you to communicate that to other people," explains polyamorous activist and co-founder of The Sex Work Survival GuideTiana GlittersaurusRex. It'll also give you a better idea of what other people might like as well.

    One great way to get in tune with your own pleasure is to literally watch yourself get off. "Try to eye gaze and connect with yourself while masturbating in a mirror," suggests Tiana. It might feel a little strange at first, but eye contact is major for couples' connection and chances are, you'll learn a thing or two from your private show.

  5. Concentrate on connection.

    One of the best ways to be really good at fingering is to stop worrying about being really good at fingering. "Have fun and enjoy moments of silliness if they arise," suggests Tiana. "It's okay to laugh and bask in all parts of the journey." In fact, laughing together will help ease some of that tension, relax your muscles, and help get you talking, all things that'll make your sex life—and relationship—even better.

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  6. Use both hands.

    Sure, you're already using one hand, but what's going on with the other? "Caress more body parts," suggests Taylor. "Reach up or over and stimulate the nipples, or if your partner is into BDSM (and with consent), that can be added too." Things like pulling hair, caressing the breasts or booty, tickling the thighs, or stroking the clit will provide even more sensation and pleasure.

    Additionally, using two hands means you can incorporate both internal and external stimulation (if that's your partner's thing). "Use one hand to gently massage the mons pubis, the labia, and the clitoris, and at the same time, use the other hand to rub or gently insert a finger(s) into their vagina," sex educator Scarlette Cyn says. "If you maintain steady pressure and speed, chances are they're more than likely going to enjoy the session."

  7. Ease into it. Literally.

    Unfortunately, most people have experienced an over-enthusiastic lover once or twice in their lives. You know, one that jabs instead of seducing? In reality, the more aroused you are, the more you'll enjoy stimulation. As Sarah points out, during arousal, "the labia swell up and the internal parts of the clitoris get engorged, making pressure even more pleasurable—which is why grinding on your partner's body gets hotter as you get more turned on," she explains. "So make sure you start slow, and that you and your partner are worked up before going to penetration or more direct pressure."

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    How you keep things slow and sensual: "If you're fingering a vulva-owner, start gently on the inner thighs, working your way up to the pubic mound down towards the clitoris and to the vaginal opening," suggests Taylor. "Taking your time allows your partner the time they need to relax and enjoy what is essentially a finger massage." Personally, I like whisper-soft brushing on the clit to start. In fact, you could even touch your partner through their underwear at first. When and if you move onto penetration, start with one finger and add from there.

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  8. Incorporate your mouth.

    If you're with a partner, be open to utilizing more than just fingers on them. Consider incorporating your mouth for things other than a passionate makeout. "This is a great opportunity to add small wet kisses on the inner thighs and a flick of the tongue on and around the clitoris," advises Taylor. "Starting with one finger, wet it completely with your mouth, and part the outer and inner labia to enter the vagina slowly."

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    You don't even have to just use your mouth on your partner's genitals if you're trying to switch things up or don't want to give oral sex. Michelle suggests licking or sucking your partner's nipples while Taylor notes incorporating little nibbles or full-on body bites (with consent, obvi), is a great way to incorporate more body parts, sensations, and erogenous zones.

  9. Add some lube.

    Even if you think your natural lubrication is sufficient, try using a little lube the next time you incorporate fingering—you'll appreciate not only the extra wetness but also the smooth, silky texture. "Lube is perhaps the best way to make fingering feel better," sex therapist Vanessa Marin says. "Our natural vaginal lubrication doesn't tend to last a very long time, so a lot of women notice discomfort when they're being fingered."

    What's more, shopping for and trying out different lubes with your partner can turn into foreplay in and of itself. "This is a great opportunity to find a lube that you enjoy and it's a chance for you to be adventurous," Scarlette says. Experiment with warming, cooling, tingling, and even flavored lubes and gels. "Just make sure your lube is free from sugar-based compounds, as this can cause a yeast infection," Scarlette adds.

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  10. Try different types of stimulation.

    When it comes to sex, no move is one-size-fits-all. What works for you might not work for someone else and vice versa. That said, Zoë notes most people want one of two things when getting fingerbanged: direct stimulation of the front wall of the vagina—the classic "come hither" finger motion is a good way to achieve it—or "a sensation of fullness, which involves deeper strokes in a more linear movement."

    No matter what position the person is lying in, Tiana suggests trying different stroke techniques. "Put your fingers in the 'come hither' position, then instead of just moving your fingers or moving in-and-out, tug your entire hand and wrist back and forth while keeping your fingers stiff and sturdy," Zoë says. Additionally, you can consider adding a little anal play to your manual sex, whether that means anal penetration with a finger or brushing around their anus.

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  11. Guide your partner and ask for feedback.

    It doesn't matter if you're giving or receiving—being vocal is vital to having good sex of any sort. Especially if this is your first time, there's a chance some nerves will be involved. "Some people may feel self-conscious about the smell, look, or taste of their vulva, so it's important to be comfortable to enjoy the experience," says Michelle. This means creating a safe environment not only for play but for feedback as well. "Make sure everyone is comfortable and well supported mentally as well as physically," advises Tiana. "Enjoy communication of what feels good with periodic sexy check-ins."

    If you're not getting any response from your partner or you're unsure if they like it, Taylor says you should always ask. In addition to listening to their body sounds and cues, you want to ensure you get verbal instructions as well, especially if you're early in your relationship. Ask things like, "Does this feel good?" to open up the floor. When it comes to guiding your partner, don't feel like you need to tell them exactly what to do. Focus instead on giving feedback on what they're already doing by "giving directions like a ground controller on the airplane runway," Scarlette says. Use phrases like "left," "more pressure," "faster," "down," and "insert your fingers."

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  12. Show in addition to telling.

    "If you have a sensitive clitoris"—and even if you don't—"I recommend showing your partner the level of pressure that you enjoy," Vanessa says. "You can take your partner's hand and use one of your fingertips to touch the sensitive skin on the inside of their wrist. You can say something like, 'I want you to touch me this gently.'" Sarah adds that "you can even hold their fingers and stroke yourself with them so that they can see exactly what pressure and patterns you love."

    Oh, and P.S. Pretty much every expert recommends masturbating in front of your partner. Not only is it a turn-on, but they'll get to see exactly what gets you off, then do the same.

  13. Get involved.

    Fingering is often seen as a one-person job, Kelly says, but that doesn't have to be the case. "If your partner has their fingers inside you, you can participate by playing with your clitoris," she says. "If they try to move their hand away because they think you're taking over, tell them you want them there as well. The added play of multiple hands and fingers is super hot." Go ahead, tag-team that fingerbang.

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  14. Include a toy.

    Don't shy away from adding a vibrator or dildo to the mix. "It can add to the sensation of your partner's hands, either internally or externally," Sarah says, "and by alternating sensations, it can let everyone stay engaged for longer." A toy inside you can leave your partner free to focus on touching your labia, mons pubis, and clit, while a vibrator on your clit pairs well with fingers inside you.

    Additionally, Taylor suggests looking into pillows or wedges to help support different angles and release tension, which helps increase blood flow and arousal. Basically, all it takes is communicating and a little bit of experimentation, and you should have a fabulous fingering sesh. Isn't teamwork rewarding?

***

This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.

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