washhandsorfice

What Happens If You Don’t Wash Your Hands Before Those Hands Enter an Orifice?

Most of you aren’t washing your hands before finger banging, and you’re probably going to catch the flu

Someone I know claims they got the flu from going down on their sick girlfriend. I swear on my life it wasn’t me. Still, I think about this every flu season. Many of us feel a bit precious about our genitals: We want the best for them, and we’d hate for them to become ill. Yet when it’s sex time, we go full lizard brain. 

Because I want you to be completely honest with yourself: Did you wash your hands before you last fingered someone? Did your partner wash their hands before they last fingered you? Please, look deep within yourself and admit the truth. The answer is no. You were too in the moment! It’s not like you just went picking through the trash! We’ve all done it! It’s fine!

And it probably is fine. Until one day, it’s not. 

Of the 126 people I surveyed, nearly two-thirds of respondents said they hadn’t washed their hands, or had their partners wash their hands, before sex. No shame, I’m in the same camp. But we might wanna think twice about that in the future, because both in sex and masturbation, there’s a good chance your hands are going straight from your poop-covered phone to some genitalia. 

The concept of that is obviously disgusting, but it’s also not exactly what I’m thinking about when I’m trying to do the dirty. Unfortunately, unclean hands can wreak havoc on each of your orifices. Here’s how: 

The Vagina

Now, it’s important that you understand that the vagina is not, as it’s often colloquially known, the entire downstairs region. The vagina is actually just the main hole, while the outer part is the vulva, but messing around with the vagina can impact the region as a whole. 

Vaginas are a gorgeous creature of duality, extremely resilient yet somehow quite delicate. It can handle pushing out an entire infant, but wear a wet bathing suit too long and you’re saddled with a yeast infection. While some STIs (like HPV, herpes and genital warts), as well as fungal infections (like yeast), can potentially be spread via fingers to the vagina, the bigger concern is the urethra.

“The female urethra is short — only 4 centimeters,” explains Michael Ingber, a doctor of female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery at The Center for Specialized Women’s Health. “The opening of the urethra (the urethral meatus) sits just under the clitoris. Therefore, when fingers are inserted into the vagina, or when the clitoris is stimulated with a dirty hand, this bacteria can make its way into the urinary tract quite easily.”

While a urinary tract infection isn’t an infection of the vagina, vaginal activities can lead to one: About 80 percent of UTIs are caused by bacteria from your gastrointestinal system entering your urethra — that is, bacteria from your butt. Sex often triggers a UTI simply because of all the movement happening down there, and naturally, fingers are capable of doing the same thing. Not only can fingers transfer booty bacteria to the urethra just by hanging around down there, but there’s a decent chance your fingers already have booty bacteria on them to begin with, considering your phone (again) is almost definitely carrying some

Which brings me to my next orifice… 

The Butthole

“Girl, you can’t get no infection in your booty hole. It’s a booty hole,” alleges Tiffany Haddish’s character in the 2017 comedy Girls Trip.

Sadly, she’s wrong about this. The butthole isn’t as susceptible to infections as the vagina or urethra, but they can still happen — because yeast thrives in warm, moist environments, your anus is indeed one place where it might hang out. Typically, though, anal yeast infections develop inside the body and travel to your bowels, rather than coming from an outside source. However, if someone has a yeast or other fungal infection on their hands and then fingers your butt, well, it might spread. Hypothetically, pinworms can be spread this way as well.

The Mouth

That gaping wet hole on your face is the orifice most at risk. Fungal and bacterial infections are all on the table, but more dangerously, so is just about every other communicable disease. The flu, colds, stomach viruses, what have you –– besides direct human contact like smooching or being sneezed on, they’re spread by touching a surface with germs on it and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. For that reason, sucking on your partner’s fingers is potentially riskier than having them finger you. Your butt can’t catch the flu and your vagina can’t catch the flu, but your mouth is like a hot wet little flu trap. Further, the mouth-haver can transfer illnesses to the finger-haver. If you’re sick with the flu, vaginal fluid doesn’t contain the virus (despite what that person I know who says they caught the flu from oral claims). Your saliva, however, is chock-full of it. 

Finger sucking is great, but it’s probably the quickest way to spread the flu between yourself and your partner. 

Your Orifices’ Biggest Enemy 

Most of the problems referenced here can be solved by just washing your hands. Ingber doesn’t recommend using hand sanitizer in this context, however. “Alcohols can be drying and irritating, especially to the vaginal mucosa,” he says. “The same goes for the mouth, which is another mucosal surface, so if you don’t think it would feel or taste good after you ‘Purell’ your hands and put your fingers in your mouth, don’t do the same for your or someone’s vagina.”

Soap and warm water are a better bet. “Everyone, even after washing their hands, will have bacteria on their skin and under their fingernails. The common bacteria seen on the hands are staphylococci, pseudomonas, klebsiella and enterobacter. Interestingly, these are also the common bacteria that can cause urinary tract infections,” Ingber explains. Still, there’s plenty of evidence proving that washing your hands makes a world of difference. For example, one study found that handwashing among birth attendants during home births in Southeast Asia contributed to nearly 50 percent fewer maternal deaths. Now, obviously, giving birth is a bit more of an intense and invasive experience than a finger-banging sesh, but the point still stands. 

When it comes to STIs, transmission via hands is rare but not impossible. The risk is only present if a hand touches genitals with an STI, and said hand touches genitals without an STI afterward. If you or your partner has an active case of herpes or genital warts, then it could be spread if you touch their genitals and then your own, or if you touch yourself and, shortly after, them. If you have a cut or other injury on your hand, this risk increases when said hand touches genitals with an STI.

Gonorrhea and chlamydia can’t be transmitted through finger play unless you consume your partner’s bodily fluids, or bring their bodily fluids into contact with your genitals or eyes, but if there’s any concern, it might be wise to wash your hands after touching genitals, as well. 

Also, it doesn’t matter how clean your hands are if you’ve got some sharp-ass nails. I love me a full set of long acrylic nails, but they truly aren’t conducive to spelunking: They’re likely to cause some pain, and even if that’s your thing, it’s potentially problematic because broken skin is far more susceptible to infection. Further, nails offer more breeding ground for bacteria to thrive, and it can be challenging to adequately scrub the area clean. If claws are a big part of your identity, I’ve heard that disposable rubber gloves with bits of cotton around the nails allow one to safely finger while maintaining the look. 

Again — I probably can’t say it enough — most of us have been guilty of not washing our hands before a romp. I know I am! And while I’ve gotten by just fine, Ingber still recommends that people insist all parties wash their hands before going at it. Make it part of foreplay, or something. 

Better safe than sorry when it comes to pinworms in your butt.