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Remember that famed “Sex and the City” taxi convo where Charlotte gets all squeamish about discussing anal? We get it. It’s not like talking about the weather.
But… your butt is a body part, and you don’t ever have to feel mortified about it. Plus, your posterior can be a serious source of pleasure in more ways than one.
Anal sex encompasses more than just inserting a penis in someone’s anus, says certified sex and relationship coach Charlie Glickman, PhD. Fingers, toys, tongues, and external stimulation all qualify as backdoor biz.
If you’re curious about giving anal a go, it’s important to know the facts and how to stay safe before you dive in. Here’s a guide to doing the deed with the derriere.
Anal isn’t just about penis-in-butt action. Anal sex can describe any sexual activity that involves the anus. This includes inserting fingers or sex toys into the anus and licking the anus (aka rimming). Anyone can be into it (or not into it), regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.
Anal sex safety tips
Here are some safety tips to keep your butt sex sesh safe and enjoyable.
- Use condoms and dental dams to reduce your risk of a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
- Get your lube on. The anus doesn’t self-lubricate.
- The butt is home to beacoup bacteria. Be sure to gently wash the area with mild soap and water before and after sex. You should also put on a new condom if you move from the butt to the vagina.
- Take it easy. Studies show stress can increase anal pressure by contracting the internal anal sphincter. So try to relax your mind before butt play.
- Start slow with a finger or small sex toy. This gives the sphincter time to relax and can lead to more pleasurable penetration. It can also lower your chance of a skin or tissue tear.
- Find the right position. Experiment with different poses until you find one that feels best.
Glickman recommends at least 10 to 15 minutes of foreplay before inserting anything — fingers, sex toys, a penis — into the anus. “The more aroused we are, the more relaxed the muscles around the anus become.”
Because the rectum doesn’t self-lubricate like other areas of the body, it can get dry quickly, Glickman says. In addition to relaxation and arousal, another key to preventing any pain is to keep things well-oiled by using a lot of lube.
He recommends silicone-based formulas, which are less likely to dry you out than water-based ones. (Some brands to try: Uber Lube, Wet, Swiss Navy, and Sliquid.)
If you’ve never experienced anything entering your behind, you’ll probably want to go easy. And the receiver should control the movement.
Ian Kerner, PhD, sex educator and author of “She Comes First,” recommends the missionary position with an “adjusted” point of entry.
A gentler doggy-style may work well too. In this case, the person doing the penetrating remains steadily upright on their knees, while the receiver gently backs up on hands and knees into the object being inserted.
Keep in mind that the goal of your first few attempts at anal intercourse shouldn’t be achieving orgasm, Kerner says (though if that happens, woot!).
Rather it should be about experimenting, establishing trust, and making sure everyone’s comfortable. Stop anytime you want. And remember, you don’t have to have anal again if you decide it’s not your jam.
Poop. Infections. Bleeding butt holes. You prob have some questions surrounding anal if you’re a butt sex newbie. But don’t worry! Here are the answers to common concerns.
Hygiene before and during anal
It’s totally normal to worry that things may get messy the first time you try anal sex. But(t) there are lots of ways to avoid a poop-cident.
“As long as you’ve gone to the bathroom within the last 3 to 5 hours, you can pretty much assume your rectum is going to be clear,” Kerner says.
And those rumors about butt play making you lose control of your bowels? Not true, Glickman says — at least there’s no medical evidence that it does.
However, as with all sexual activities, hygiene is of utmost importance for backdoor bliss. Soap and water should suffice to wash your bum externally, says sexologist Jessica O’Reilly, PhD.
For those who are extra concerned about rectal cleanliness, Kerner suggests using an enema, which you can find at most drugstores.
Using the standard saline or mineral oil solution will likely lead you to do a number two, so planning ahead for time in the loo is helpful.
Once playtime rolls around, Glickman advises placing a dark towel on the surface where you’ll be getting frisky and keeping some baby wipes or a wet paper towel within reach.
As long as you’ve gone to the bathroom and cleaned up afterward and you haven’t made any radical changes in your diet within the past 24 hours, you won’t likely have any accidents, he says.
“However, if you make anal play a regular part of your repertoire, sooner or later, sh*t might happen. Bodies are unpredictable,” he adds. Hence why having anal only with someone you trust and can communicate with is so crucial.
What about infections?
To help protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), use a condom during anal intercourse. And if you’re exploring the bum with any other parts of your body (fingers, tongue, etc.), take advantage of gloves and dental dams as an extra precaution.
Anal intercourse carries a slightly higher risk of a sexually transmitted infection, says Dennis J. Fortenberry, PhD, a sex researcher and professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine.
Bacteria from the rectum can also cause bacterial vaginosis (BV), an infection marked by a foul odor and excessive discharge, or a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Both conditions can be treated with antibiotics, but save yourself the discomfort by switching condoms and washing your hands if transitioning from back to front. Peeing after sex can also help prevent a UTI.
Curious how anal might feel? If you’re a newbie to posterior pleasure, Kerner recommends starting by acquainting yourself with the satisfaction this part of your body has to offer.
“To get a sense of what anal play with a partner will actually feel like — and what you’ll most enjoy — experiment on your own during masturbation with a butt plug, vibrator, dildo, or simply your fingers,” he suggests.
If solo anal play felt great and you’re ready to give it a go with a partner, or if you want to know if your partner wants you to take the back entrance, have a chat.
Consent is a must for any sexual act, including anal. “Anal play should never be a surprise,” Glickman says.
The first time you ask about your partner’s interest in anal activities should be anywhere but the bedroom, he advises. This prevents catching your partner off guard, offers time for a discussion, and fosters trust.
Open with something like, “Would you ever be interested in anal sex? It’s something I’m curious to try, but I want to gauge how you feel about it.” Or, “I read this article on Greatist about anal sex. Would you ever be interested in trying something like that with me?”
Once you’ve gained consent outside of the heat of the moment, ask for it again during sexy time to make sure. If your partner isn’t game, do not pressure them.
And if you’re the one who’s not interested — tonight or at all — don’t engage in anal because you feel like you should or you have to, Glickman says. It’s your body, your choice.
For anyone, the excitement and arousal from exploring a new territory, plus the actual internal or external sensations, may be mind-blowing.
The upside of anal for people with a penis is stimulation of the prostate gland, an erogenous zone that fills with fluid during arousal, and when properly prodded, can enhance and even precipitate an orgasm, Glickman explains.
And people with vulvas may find the sensation to be just as toe-curling. (For proof, check out Toni Bentley’s memoir-length testimonial.)
Glickman explains that pressure inside the rectum may stimulate the internal ends of clitoral nerves, bringing the receiver to climax.
“Many women say they can experience orgasms from anal stimulation,” Kerner says. “But most need clitoral stimulation.” Of course, you can go for both.
With all this talk about the benefits of booty sex, it may seem like it’s suddenly becoming more popular. That’s not necessarily true.
The stats on people who’ve engaged in anal with someone of the opposite sex haven’t changed all that much since the early aughts, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Talking about rear-end recreation is becoming less taboo, however. And rightly so. But just because more people are gabbing about anal (and just because you’ve read this article) doesn’t mean you have to be up for putting anything up your butt.
If the idea does tantalize you, remember that you don’t have to go for full-on anal all at once. Anal sex isn’t solely about inserting a penis in someone’s rectum.
It encompasses a variety of potentially pleasurable behaviors, from fingering and prostate massages to oral contact or just external manual pressure.
Talk with your partner in a nonsexual setting about how to get started. And remember that you can stop or say no to something at any time, even if you’ve done it in the past.
The choice is always yours.