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  • Dr. Sprankle

A Fistful of Fun

Question: I'm a lady in her thirties who has recently become interested in vaginal fisting. I've done some research on my own regarding the how-to, but doing that research also has made me nervous about possible side effects (the internet is a scary place). Can you please help me sort out the fact from fiction? What should I legitimately be concerned about?

You’re right, the internet is scary and it can easily convince you that your nosebleed is Ebola and your fatigue is polio (thanks, WebMD).

I applaud your interest in venturing beyond the typical one or two fingers of sexual stimulation and wanting a partner’s entire hand inserted into your vagina if that would fulfill a sexual desire you have. But in order to avoid an embarrassing trip to the emergency room explaining how you became a human hand puppet, there are healthy suggestions you should be aware of before sitting on a fist.

Let’s start separating fact from scare tactic. Curious what the medical field has studied on this topic, I conducted a PubMed search for “fisting,” and although I subsequently had my computer seized by the IT department on campus, I did find a few articles on colorectal injuries from anal fisting, but nothing on vaginal fisting. That either means physicians are not interested in your vaginal recreational activities, or no one is showing up in the ER from handballing disasters that are worth writing an article about. Let’s hope it’s the latter.

Nevertheless, there are several things to keep in mind before a partner goes wrist-deep. First, it is important to understand the elasticity of your vagina. Theoretically, if a fetus can pass through the vagina during birth, it can certainly accommodate a fist. True, but if you recall those “Miracle of Birth” videos from high school, the miraculous demonstration of vaginal elasticity is often accompanied by opioid use, screams, blood, and the occasional bowel movement. I’m assuming this is not the fisting adventure you crave (but no judgment if it is).

To avoid a birthing experience, I’m sure you recognize the importance of relaxation during your attempt at sexual ventriloquism. However, it is recommended to learn how to relax the pelvic floor muscles through deep breathing and Kegel exercises. Substances like alcohol, tranquilizers, benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax), and “poppers” may cause relaxation, but they can also decrease sensation and perception, which can lead to injury by not perceiving pain and knowing when to stop. You probably grew up with Nancy Reagan's unhelpful 1980s anti-drug campaign “Just Say No," but I think a more realistic and helpful slogan is "Just Say Know." Know your body's responses if you use substances, and use with caution.

I doubt Nancy Reagan envisioned her campaign would be referenced 35 years later in a blog post about fisting. That's a legacy.

Since you’ve already researched the “how to,” I’ll just reiterate the important factors of patience and communication. No one starts a fisting sexual encounter by dismounting off the bed, completing two forward rolls, and landing vulva first onto the fist of their partner. While that would earn a score of 10 from Olympic judges, that is an unrealistic expectation of the process.

Go slow. Incorporate the fisting experience into other forms of sexual behaviors to heighten arousal (but still use plenty of lube). If you’re only able to insert three fingers to the second knuckle on your first try, consider that a success. Pay attention to how your body responded so you can learn from the experience. You can always try again later after another day of mind-numbing Zoom meetings. Fisting can be the perfect antidote to oft-mundane pandemic life.

Do note, too, that low estrogen levels and scar tissue in the pelvic area can make fisting difficult, painful, or even impossible due to a lack of vaginal elasticity. Know your limits. The experience will be novel and intense, but it shouldn’t be painful. Communicate immediately to your partner if you experience discomfort. Slow down, change positions, or stop. The dangerous mentality of “no pain, no gain” will only result in you writing your bestselling memoir, A Woman, a Fist, and the Vaginal Mishap that Shouldn't Have Been.

If you use caution with substances, focus on relaxation and how your body is responding, go slow, communicate your needs, and set realistic expectations (or no expectations at all), vaginal fisting can be a highly arousing and sensual experience for both you and your partner. It may leave you with intense, pleasurable, and tingly sensations. And don't worry. Despite what WebMD will tell you, these tingly sensations are not a sign of a brain tumor.


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