Finger condoms offer a safe and sanitary way to engage in the form of sexual penetration known as fingering. Fingering can also be referred to as digital sex or heavy petting. Finger condoms are often called finger cots.

Fingering is a relatively low-risk form of sexual intercourse. Fingering cannot result in pregnancy as long as sperm is not introduced into a vagina via the fingers.

The chance of contracting an STI from fingering is low, but it’s possible. For this reason, the use of a protective barrier like a finger condom is a safe choice.

You can find finger condoms online and in the first aid section of some drug stores, but they are not as widely available or commonly used for fingering as gloves.

Using a finger condom is straightforward. It’s placed on the finger prior to penetration like a regular condom.

The first step is to place the condom on the fingertip. Roll the finger condom all the way down toward the base of the finger. Make sure to smooth out any air that may have become trapped between the condom and the finger.

After use, remove and dispose of the condom in the trash. A finger condom cannot be flushed down the toilet. After disposal, wash hands with warm soap and water. Hands should be washed both before and after fingering, regardless of condom or glove use.

Condom lubrication is recommended because penetration without proper lubrication can cause friction. Friction can result in the condom breaking. Friction can also lead to tears and fissures inside the vagina or anus that may result in bleeding after being fingered.

If the condom in use is made of latex, it’s best to use water-based or silicone-based lube. Oil-based lubrication can break down latex and should be avoided.

Equally important: If a condom has been used inside the anus, do not use this same condom inside the vagina. This is true for all forms of condoms, including tongue condoms, male condoms, and female condoms.

Condoms are disposable devices intended for single use. Never reuse a condom.

It’s also a good idea to avoid the use of expired condoms and to store them properly. Store condoms away from heat, humidity and sharp objects. Discard the condom if it’s discolored, has holes or tears, has a foul odor, or if it’s stiff or sticky.

There are multiple advantages of using finger condoms.

Protective barrier

These devices create a protective barrier that may prevent scratches from a fingernail inside a partner’s anus or vagina. Scratches can increase the risk of the transmission of STIs like HIV during intercourse. Exposed fingernails can also carry bacteria or STIs like chlamydia and human papillomavirus (HPV).

Hygienic

Another great benefit of finger condoms is the ease of cleanup after use. You can remove and dispose the condom, then wash your hands without the concern of bodily fluid remaining under a fingernail. Finger condoms can also be used to keep small sex toys clean.

Easy to use and cost-effective

In general, it’s a good idea to avoid contact with others’ bodily fluids (with the exception of saliva). Condoms of all varieties are easy to use and are cost-effective options for safe sex.

Finger condoms have many benefits, but latex or nitrile gloves likely offer a better solution for safe and sanitary fingering. Here’s why:

  • Gloves are far less likely to slip off during penetration.
  • If a finger condom comes off during use, it may be difficult to recover, particularly if it’s inside the anus.
  • Gloves also allow the user to choose any finger or fingers for penetration.

Latex gloves are a common choice for use with fingering, but be aware that some people have latex allergies. It’s a good idea to check with your partner about allergies before the use of latex gloves or latex condoms.

Nitrile gloves are widely available and a great alternative to latex. Both latex and nitrile gloves can come powdered; it’s recommended you wash off the powder before use.

As with finger condoms, apply lubricant before penetration. Gloves used for fingering are also single-use and should never be used inside the vagina if they’ve been inside the anus.

The use of protective barriers during sexual intercourse decreases the risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection. The proper use of finger condoms or gloves is a way to avoid direct contact with a partner’s bodily fluids and can help prevent injury and illness.

Finger condoms and finger gloves are both effective tools for the safe practice of fingering, though gloves are often more accessible and easier to find.