We hear you, fingering gets a bad rep. From cringe teenage memories to the (heteronormative) idea that it’s not “proper” sex, many are reluctant to keep fingering in the mix when it comes to the bedroom. Well, we’re here to tell you that those people are w-r-o-n-g.
When done well, fingering can be really important for female pleasure and orgasm. Around 80% of women and people with vulvas can’t orgasm through penetration alone and will need clitoral stimulation in order to climax. In short, this is where top notch fingering skills come in handy.
Think it’s time to brush up on your technique? Thankfully, we’ve got your back: check out our expert fingering guide courtesy of sex experts at Kinkly.
Some housekeeping before you start, please. As Dr Eskander, a consultant gynaecologist at The Gynae Centre tells us; “By keeping your fingernails short and clean you can reduce the risk of infection.”
Also, here’s your reminder to take it easy! Being too rough and vigorous can result in vaginal tears which, although minute, take a few days to heal and, as Eskander reminds us; “increase the risk of catching an STI, particularly if there is an exchange of bodily fluids.”
As a rule of thumb, fingers are a great tool for creating the persistent, rhythmic and often nuanced stimulation needed to really pleasure a vulva – and deliver a mind-blowing orgasm to your partner.
The raw materials are great: fingers are nimble, agile and strong. Fingertips are alive with different nerves, allowing them to be receptive to a partner’s changing rhythms and cues and to play with the sensitive skin of the labia, clitoris and vagina. But like all instruments, you need to use your hands right if you want to create the desired effect.
1. Vulva anatomy 101
You’re probably already aware that the clitoris is a hub of sexual pleasure for women and people with vaginas.
It has an astounding 8,000 nerve endings (sensitive, much?) and despite appearing tiny from outside, actually extends deep into the pelvic area and around the vagina. It’s even possible for G-spot orgasms to occur from stimulating the back-side of the clitoris.
However, the clit isn’t the be-all and end-all: the rest of your partner’s vulva also deserves some attention.
You should also keep in mind that it’s really important not to shock those 8,000 super-sensitive nerve endings with a super intense start – not only can this be jarring, it can also be painful. Touch and caress other areas of the vulva as a way of easing into clitoral stimulation.
To help you know which areas to target, here’s a quick anatomy lesson for you! The vulva is made up of the pubic mound, the inner labia and outer labia, the clitoris, the vaginal opening and, just beneath, the perineum.
Each of these areas are sensitive and responsive to touch. Which is to say, for expert fingering you should try working in a few of these areas – just listen to your partner’s needs and discover which work for them.
2. Lube it up!
Witness the wetness: the more slippery your subject, the more satisfying your touch will be. Discard the idea that natural lubrication is enough: vaginal wetness is subject to the body’s fluctuations and can be impacted by hydration, hormones, medication and stress. Instead of leaving it all up to chance, get cracking with the lube.
For best results, opt for a natural, organic and good quality lube like the Sliquid range. Not only are they vegan, they don’t contain any allergens.
3. Start slow
Remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint. Vulvas respond well to stimulation that is sensual and slow. This is because it takes an average of at least 15 minutes of stimulation for a vulva-owner to reach orgasm.
Fingering is not an exercise in instant gratification. Instead, it helps to think about it as a story with a beginning, middle and end.
Don’t start at the end of the story by launching straight into clitoral stimulation. Instead, craft a narrative: slowly reel in your partner’s attention, draw out new characters and twists, build up the tension and then – only then, when they are hanging onto each word – is it time to unveil the ending.
Start slow and gentle and steadily increase the speed and intensity as you gravitate towards more sensitive terrain. This isn’t just about setting the right pace: it encourages blood to flow to your partner’s genitals.
This amps up their arousal, making them more receptive to intense stimulation and pulling them closer to the beginnings of orgasm.
4. Work your way in
So, now you know you need to slowly build up the intensity. But you also should be working your way from the outside in, towards the clitoris. It can help to conceptualise the clitoris as a sort of bullseye.
You can being by stroking the outer edges of that target – the thighs and lower stomach, for example. This can all be done with your fingers – the sensation should be light and teasing, building up the anticipation.
If your partner is enjoying the process so far, you can move your caresses in closer, towards the pubic mound, labia and perineum. To spike your partner’s interest, you might even run a single finger over the clitoris. But don’t jump in yet – make those touches light and teasing.
Hopefully by this point your partner should be becoming more and more aroused. If that’s the case, you can start zoning in on the areas they are responding to the most, being sure to make your touch more rhythmic and consistent as you go.
You can do this by perhaps rubbing a finger back and forth, or tracing a circle. As always, it’s good to listen: use your partner’s words and cues as your roadmap.
5. Be all ears
And on that point… As things heat up, it’s important to tune in to your partner’s bodily response, the directions they give you and any sounds they make. If you switch up the rhythm or direction of your touch and things get quiet, course correct.
If your partner moans, gasps, their breathing gets heavier or they let you know that they like what you’re doing, it’s safe to say you’re on the right track.
When it turns hot and heavy, move closer to your partner and allow yourself to get lost in their movements, pleasure and breathing.
It’s never not important to be attentive to your sexual partner’s body language, but it’s tantamount for fingering. There is no advice that will serve you better than listening to your partner’s wants and needs, so make sure you take note.
6. Persistent, rhythmic stimulation is key
Look, we’ve all been here. When our partners are clearly really into something, that turns us on too. The way they are responding to touch is so hot that we might alter our rhythm or pressure because we want to make them feel even better.
But while that’s an understandable reaction, it’s one you’re best to avoid. When your partner is loving what you’re doing, it’s a sure sign that you should stick to it.
Successful fingering comes down to persistent and rhythmic stimulation. If the pace and pressure are working, make sure you keep going – unless your partner asks for something different.
Want a helping hand? Maybe you might want to work in a clitoral vibrator to further arouse their clit. Begin with a low setting and speed to keep this stimulation persistent and consistent.
According to how they like it, you might gently brush the vibrator against their clit to tease them, or apply the toy just above it.
7. Penetration is a side, not the main dish
You’re going to have to wait until your partner is properly warmed up, but some people like some penetration as part of their finger play.
Before you begin make sure to ask your partner if it’s OK for you to go inside. Once you slip a finger or two in, these are a few moves you can try out.
A circular, swirling motion inside the vagina. This targets the sensitive area at the opening of the vagina.
G-spot stimulation (the spongy area of tissue, found two to three inches inside the vagina’s front wall). There are a few G-spot techniques you can try but the most common is a firm, “come-hither” motion using a finger or two against the vagina front wall.
Switch things up by slipping your fingers in the vagina, caressing the G-spot, then slipping them back out, up and over the clitoris. Repeat as necessary.
Get handy: use the rest of your hand to caress and massage the clitoris and labia while your fingers move rhythmically in and out.
It’s important to check in with your partner about whether they like what you’re doing. Ultimately, this should be a joint effort, with you both working as a team toward your partner’s ultimate pleasure.
If you’re concerned about finding their G-spot, you can always use a toy specially designed to massage it. Sex toys with a curved or bulbed tip are made to target vibrations and pressure to the G-spot.
An avid multitasker? You might also want to take a rampant rabbit vibrator for a spin, these sex toys are designed to target the clitoris and G-spot simultaneously.
8. The final countdown
As your partner edges closer and closer to orgasm their breathing will get faster, their body will tense up, and their noises and moans will either grow louder or much softer. At this stage, it’s crucial that you maintain your focus.
By now, you might be stimulating the clitoris directly and, if your partner is into it, the stimulation can be pretty rough and intense.
But as we’ve stressed, it’s important to keep up the rhythm and touch that’s working for them, and check in to see what they need.
To tip them over the edge, all it takes is a little something extra. Maybe kissing them extra hard, looking deep in their eyes, or caressing their neck.
You might also want to let them know just how much they’re turning you on. The best sex engages the body and the mind fully.
Making sure your partner is fully in tune with their body and present in their mind can help move them to climax.
9. Every partner is different
You should keep in mind that every person (and every vulva) is different. There’s no one size fits all approach to fingering as we each have our own unique preferences.
If sex is a skill, the most important part of that skill is listening to and learning about your partner’s sexual quirks. For example, did you know that some people prefer stimulation on a specific side of their clitoris?
Do you know which side your partner prefers? You should. Small changes to your fingering technique over time are the things that can send your partner beyond just orgasm and into a place of sexual bliss.
You hold the power to make that happen – all thanks to your skilful, sexy hands. In the eternal words of Paris Hilton, “that’s hot”.
Want more? Here are some fingering tips from IRL people – aka vagina experts – on Reddit:
“I would prefer to be rubbed through the clitoral hood, not directly on the head.”
“Make sure it is good and wet and run little circles around it to start, then go to direct pressure. if they respond, you got it!”
“Don’t rub it really fast like you see in porn (unless she’s close to orgasm), start off slow in a circular or up and down motion on her clit.”
“Learn what your partner likes. Some don’t like penetration at all, some really do. And for those who do, it can be different if it’s more about hitting a certain spot or going in-and-out.”