Sperm needs to come into contact with the vagina for pregnancy to occur. Fingering is very unlikely to introduce sperm to the vagina and cause pregnancy, but it can happen.
Fingering can only cause pregnancy if a person’s fingers are covered in preejaculate or ejaculate when they insert them into the vagina.
In this article, we cover possible situations in which fingering could lead to pregnancy. We also cover birth control options and when to see a doctor.
Pregnancy is a complicated process that starts with fertilization.
Fertilization occurs when a sperm cell joins with a mature egg cell in the fallopian tube. Sperm must enter the vagina for fertilization to take place.
Pregnancy will not occur as long as ejaculate, or semen, does not enter the vagina. Semen — which contains sperm and fluids — is what the penis releases during orgasm.
Fingering alone does not allow sperm to enter the vagina. However, there is a chance that fingering may lead to pregnancy if semen is present on the fingers or hand.
A woman is unlikely to get pregnant from being fingered, but it is not impossible.
Fingering after masturbating
Contrary to popular belief, oxygen does not immediately kill sperm cells.
Sperm cells can survive outside the body, as long as they stay in a warm and wet environment. In other words, semen can still contain live sperm cells until it dries.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, sperm cells may survive inside the female body for 3–5 days after ejaculation.
Semen may enter the vagina if a person masturbates, ejaculates, and then uses the same hand or hands to finger their partner.
Fingering after giving a handjob
Semen may also enter the vagina if a person gives their partner a handjob and proceeds to finger themselves with the same hand or hands.
Although the chance of getting pregnant in this situation is relatively low, it is not impossible.
Wiping the hands on a towel may not remove all of the sperm cells. However, people can lower their chance of introducing semen to the vagina by washing their hands after giving their partner a handjob.
People can use birth control to prevent unintended pregnancy.
Different types of birth control have varying degrees of effectiveness. Some options also protect against sexually transmitted infections, while others do not.
Birth control options include:
Long acting reversible contraception
Short acting hormonal birth control
Some examples of short acting hormonal birth control methods include:
- Depo-Provera: This method is an injection of progestin that lasts for up to 3 months.
- Oral contraceptives: People should take oral tablets at the same time each day. Some oral contraceptives contain a combination of progestin and estrogen, while others only contain progestin.
- Contraceptive patches: Patches deliver hormones to the bloodstream through skin contact. People can place a contraceptive patch on their stomach, buttocks, back, or upper arm. Contraceptive patches alone may prevent pregnancy about 91% of the time. They work in 4 week cycles, and a person must reapply them at the same time every week.
- A vaginal ring: The vaginal ring is a small, thin device that a person inserts into the vagina, where it continually releases hormones for 3 weeks. People remove the ring at the beginning of the fourth week and insert a new ring a week later. Similar to patches, vaginal rings are about 91% effective.
Barrier birth control methods physically block sperm from entering the uterus. Some examples of barrier birth control methods include:
These forms of birth control have varying degrees of effectiveness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), barrier methods are around 72–88% effective.
The chance of pregnancy increases when people do not use barrier methods consistently or correctly.
Fertility awareness methods include natural family planning.
This method requires that sexual partners become familiar with the natural signs and rhythms of ovulation and the menstrual cycle.
People who use fertility awareness can plan to avoid sexual activity or use an additional form of contraception, such as a male condom, on the most fertile days of the month.
Similar to barrier methods, fertility awareness offers varying degrees of effectiveness. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, people who use fertility awareness alone have a 25% chance of pregnancy.
Pregnancy can occur even if people use birth control.
However, getting pregnant while using certain forms of birth control — such as an IUD — can lead to severe complications.
Pregnancy symptoms do not develop immediately after having sex. In fact, it can take several days after fertilization before a woman starts experiencing symptoms.
They may want to speak with a doctor if they experience early signs of pregnancy, such as:
Women who think that they may be pregnant can take an at-home pregnancy test.
Most at-home pregnancy tests look for the hCG hormone that the placenta produces shortly after implantation of a fertilized egg.
Although many tests claim to be up to 99% accurate, the accuracy of an at-home pregnancy test varies depending on the amount of hCG present in the body when a woman takes the test.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), at-home tests can detect hCG in urine 12–15 days after ovulation.
Other factors that may affect hCG levels and test accuracy include:
- how long a woman waits to take the test after missing their period
- how well a woman follows the instructions provided in the test kit
- when the fertilized egg implants in the uterus
- whether or not a woman experiences irregular periods
Fingering carries a low chance of leading to pregnancy. As long as semen does not enter the vagina, pregnancy cannot occur.
People can use various birth control methods to lower the chance of pregnancy.
Women can take an at-home pregnancy test if they think they might be pregnant. They can confirm their test results with a doctor.