In one particularly memorable scene of the new movie After, naive college freshman Tessa (Josephine Langford) and tattooed British bad boy Hardin Scott (Hero Tiffin Fiennes) take a trip to a nearby lake. After some swimming, flirting, and making out, they move to the shore. Hardin slowly moves his hands over Tessa's body, slides his fingers under the waistband of her underwear… and when Tessa gasps, he stops. "Have you never been touched before?" he asks. When Tessa responds with "Why'd you stop?" he answers, "We've got time," and the scene ends.
So, how realistic is this scene? Fingering can absolutely result in a mind-blowing orgasm — if you’re doing it right. Clitoral stimulation is one of the most common ways people with clits reach orgasm. One 2015 study found that 36.6% of cis women said that clitoral stimulation was necessary for them to reach orgasm, and another 36% said clitoral stimulation wasn’t necessary for them to reach orgasm, but their orgasms felt a lot better if clitoral stimulation was involved.
If fingering is going to result in orgasm, it will most likely include clitoral stimulation, says Dr. Laurie Mintz, author of Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters — And How To Get It. “Some people think of fingering as putting a finger (much as you would do a penis) inside a woman’s vagina and moving it around or in and out, and others think of it as stimulating the external portion of a woman’s genitals (her vulva), which includes the inner lips, the external part of the clitoris, and the vaginal opening,” Dr. Mintz says.
The second definition is the one most likely to lead to orgasm. “The vast majority of women don’t orgasm from vaginal penetration alone,” Dr. Mintz explains. “So, just like false images of women orgasming from intercourse alone, someone sticking a finger in their vagina without any preceding or concurrent clitoral stimulation is not going to lead to orgasm. It might even lead to pain because if you put anything in your vagina (a finger, a penis, a toy) before you are aroused and lubricated (which occurs via external stimulation), it could hurt.”
Dr. Mintz adds that some people like a finger or two in their vagina — but in addition to clitoral stimulation, not instead of it. Fingering can involve G-spot stimulation — the G-spot “is not actually a spot at all, but instead an area that can be found inside the vagina and it includes many different structures, including the vaginal wall, the internal portion of the clitoris, and the female prostate gland,” she explains, adding that not everyone can find this area, and not everyone likes how it feels when it's stimulated. If you're going to add any type of internal fingering, make sure the person being fingered is aroused first.
There are two rules that people who want to finger someone to orgasm should keep in mind, Dr. Mintz says. The first: “Make sure you engage in external stimulation! This includes the clitoris, the inner lips, the mons pubis, and the vaginal opening — all are full of touch sensitive nerve endings.” And the second: “ASK your partner to tell you what feels good! Another essential fact is that every woman’s genital nerve pattern is a bit different, which means that what every woman needs to orgasm is different. The only way to know if what you are doing is pleasurable is to ask!”
Another part of the lake scene is a little more unrealistic. In the book, it’s revealed that this is Tessa’s first-ever orgasm, not because she's anorgasmic, because she has never masturbated before. One study found that 66% of 18- and 19-year-old women had masturbated, so while not that unusual, Tessa is in the minority here. But then again, after that lakeside encounter with Hardin, maybe her answer would change...