Can fingering transmit sexually transmitted diseases?

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People have sex in different ways. Sometimes they involve rubbing the skin against the skin. Sometimes they involve genital-to-genital or mouth-to-genital contact. Other times, people will use their fingers and hands to stimulate their partner's genitals. This is called fingering.

Fingers, also known as digital vaginal penetration, manual penetration, or forceful stroking, can be a pleasurable sexual activity in and of itself. It can also be part of foreplay.

Many people think that fingering is a very safe form of sex and, for the most part, they are right. However, research shows that some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can be contracted with the fingers. This article explains the risks and what you can do to avoid them.

Get Medical Information / Laura Porter

Risks of sexually transmitted diseases from fingering

There is very little research on whether fingering is a real risk factor for STDs . This is because few people limit themselves to using their fingers during sex. While it may seem reasonable to assume that fingering may be "safer" than oral sex , it is definitely not safe.

Research over the years has confirmed that STDs like syphilis can be found on the hands and under the nails of infected people. This suggests that a person can transmit certain STDs from their hands to their partner's genitalia. This is a reasonable assumption considering that you can transmit STDs through shared sex toys .

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Among the STDs that are often associated with fingering is the human papillomavirus (HPV) . HPV is extremely common and can be spread through skin contact. In fact, most sexually active men and women will contract HPV at some point in their lives.

Several studies have confirmed that the virus can be found under the nails in people with genital HPV. This suggests that people can get HPV from their fingers . But how high is the real risk?

Current research shows that it is relatively low. The 2019 McGill University study, which focused solely on the risk of acquiring HPV from fingering, involved more than 250 heterosexual couples who agreed to get their hands and genitals swabs every few months. The HPV swab samples were genetically "typed", allowing the researchers to determine the route of transmission from one partner to another.

Based on the findings, the researchers concluded that the risk of acquiring HPV from the fingers was possible, but "unlikely." After all, the amount of HPV on the fingers was only a small fraction of what was found on the genitals, and usually not enough to establish an infection.

Other STDs

Other studies suggest that STDs like gonorrhea can be transmitted through the fingers. This infection is mainly transmitted sexually and can occur with or without ejaculation .

Studies in men who have sex with men (MSM) show that gonorrhea can be transmitted to the anus and rectum through the fingers. Still, the risk is more associated with group sex, especially when it comes to drugs and anonymous partners. Outside of group sex, you are less likely to get gonorrhea.

Also, the risk of transmitting HIV through fingers is considered low or unlikely.

The only STD that can be transmitted by hand is herpes . That said, it is more likely when you touch an open wound rather than the entire skin. Although the herpes virus can be "spread" through intact skin, the skin must come into direct contact with the lining tissues of the mouth, anus, or genitals.

Summary

Research shows that finger transmission of HPV is unlikely. Although gonorrhea can spread from the fingers to the anus, it is not common among intimate partners. The only STD that can be transmitted is herpes by touching an open sore.

Risk reduction

People of any sexual orientation can exercise their fingers. If you are doing vaginal or anal toes, there are safer ways to do it. You can wear gloves or finger cuffs and change them as needed to prevent the spread of body fluids.

You should also wash your hands between touching your genitals and your partner's genitals. It also reduces the risk of self- inoculation , such as the transmission of herpes from the mouth to the genitals or vice versa.

If you have long nails, you can clean them with cotton before wearing gloves to provide support and avoid punctures. Or you can trim and file your nails to avoid scratching your partner's genitals.

Summary

You make fingering safer by wearing gloves or a cape. Make sure to change them as needed and wash your hands between touching your partner's genitals and genitals.

Summary

Some STDs, such as HPV, gonorrhea, and herpes, can be transmitted through the fingers. However, most studies show that the risk is low or unlikely.

That said, the risk is not zero. For safety, you can wear gloves or a finger cover and wash your hands between touching and touching your partner.

Frequently asked questions

  • You can get genital herpes by touching an open sore on your partner and then touching yourself. Avoid skin-to-skin contact while the disease is active, just in case. Because the herpes simplex virus can spread even if there are no sores, always use a condom during sex between outbreaks.

  • No, even if they touch you directly. The type of herpes virus that causes warts on the skin is different from the type that causes genital warts.

  • Skin-to-skin contact can transmit certain infections, such as herpes and molluscum contagiosum . Others are unlikely to spread this way, like HIV, or not, like chlamydia and gonorrhea .

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