Anal sex is becoming increasingly popular as the taboos surrounding it are finally decreasing. As more people explore anal sex, it is important to understand the benefits, along with any risks, of it.
What Is Anal Sex?
Although anal sex is often only thought of as anal penetration with a penis, there are other ways to perform anal sex. Vibrators, fingers, butt plugs, dildos, and other sex toys may be used as well.
Is Anal Sex Safe?
While having fun and enjoying yourself is a huge focus of any sexual activity, safety should always be the first priority. Anal sex is not necessarily unsafe. However, it does require a bit more preparation, communication, and planning than other types of sexual activity.
Important Considerations for Anal Sex
If you are curious about trying anal sex or want to make sure you are engaging in it properly, here are some important things to consider and precautions to follow.
Here’s what you should know about safe anal sex:
1. The anus lacks natural lubrication
While the vagina naturally lubricates when aroused, the anus does not. This means that adequate lubricant is absolutely key to a safe and enjoyable anal sex experience. Penetration, whether with fingers, a penis, or a toy, without enough lubrication can lead to tears in the delicate anal tissue, resulting in bleeding and pain.
2. Inner anal tissue is more sensitive than outer anal tissue
The outer skin and tissue around the anus serves as a protective barrier to the bottom half of the digestive tract. The inner tissue is thinner and more delicate, making it more susceptible to tears as a result of penetration.
Tears increase the chance of passing bacteria, viruses, and infections between partners. Even two partners who are free of STIs (sexually transmitted infections) can still pass potentially harmful bacteria between each other through skin tears.
3. The anus must be relaxed for comfortable penetration
The anal sphincter must be relaxed for comfortable anal sex. Along with making the experience more enjoyable, it decreases the risk of discomfort or tearing. A state of relaxation takes patience, honest and open communication, plenty of foreplay, and a setting you are comfortable in.
4. Like the vagina, the anus has bacteria
Bacteria, including E. coli and hepatitis A, living near or in the anus can spread without proper precaution. If you are wearing a condom, always be sure to switch to a fresh one before switching to vaginal sex. If you are not wearing a condom or using a toy or your hands, wash your hands (or the toy or your penis) off thoroughly after anal penetration.
Frequently Asked Questions About Anal Sex
For couples considering anal sex, answers to these common questions might help you decide if it’s right for you and how to go about trying it.
Q: Does Anal Sex Hurt?
A: Yes and no. If done correctly, it can feel great. But that doesn’t mean you won’t experience some discomfort the first time — or even the first few times — you have anal penetration. Take your time, stop if it becomes uncomfortable, and try using fewer fingers or a smaller toy as you become accustomed to the sensation. Communication, lots of lube, and trust with your partner are key.
Q: Is it normal to bleed from anal sex?
A: Well, this is another ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answer. While it is possible to experience a bit of bleeding during your first time or two, bleeding should subside with future sessions. If it doesn’t or the bleeding gets worse, it is imperative to talk with your doctor. Continuing or worsening bleeding may be a result of rough penetration or a sign of an underlying condition.
Q: Will anal sex affect my ability to poop?
A: Anal sex will not prevent you from pooping. In fact, you may experience an urge to use the bathroom after your romp.
Q: Will anal sex stretch out my anus and prevent me from holding in bowel movements?
Q: What are the possible risks of anal sex?
A: There are a few possible side effects and risks possible with anal sex. These include:
- Spreading STIs – The same diseases and infections that can be shared through sexual intercourse — gonorrhea, herpes, chlamydia, HIV, and others — can be transmitted through anal sex. Actually, anal sex is considered the riskiest behaviour for transmitting or contracting HIV in both men and women.
- Tears – As mentioned previously, too rough of penetration or not enough lube can cause tears in the delicate anal tissue.
- Hemorrhoids – The pushing and stretching of anal sex may irritate existing hemorrhoids. However, it is unlikely to cause hemorrhoids.
- Colon Perforation – Colon perforation (a puncture in the colon) is an uncommong but serious risk that requires surgical repair. If you experience abdominal pain or heavy rectal bleeding following anal sex, contacct your doctor immediately.
Q: Can anal sex lead to an orgasm?
A: Yes, anal sex can result in orgasm, although (as with any sexual experience) an orgasm doesn’t need to be the entire goal. Anal sex can just be a great way to experiment, grow closer to your partner, and explore your needs.
Some people find their anal region to be an extremely erogenous zone, with even the smallest bit of play resulting in arousal. The anal region contains sensitive nerve endings for the receiver and the insertive partner may also enjoy the tightness of the rectum.
In men, anal sex can stimulate the prostate gland, which can lead to an enhanced orgasm. For women, they may need clitoral stimulation in addition to anal play to reach climax. For both men and women, some experimentation will be necessary to find out what is most enjoyable.
How to Practice Safe Anal Sex
Anal sex can be an enjoyable way to experience pleasure and have fun with your partner. All it takes it some preparation and planning. As long as you maintain honest and open communication about what you both like, it can be a fantastic experience.
Here are some tips for making anal sex as great as possible:
1. Communicate Honestly and Clearly Before, During, and After Anal Sex
Anal sex should never be a surprise, especially the “Oh sorry, it slipped” excuse. This is a serious violation of consent and trust. If you are interested in giving anal sex a go, let your partner know you are curious about it and would like to experiment with it and talk about ways to get started slowly.
Maybe skipping to penile penetration is too overwhelming for the receiver or perhaps the answer is ‘no’ entirely. Perhaps the giver would be more comfortable with some finger play first or maybe the receiver would prefer some light play with lots of lube and a toy to begin with. The bottom line is that clear communication, starting slow, and respecting boundaries is absolutely key for healthy experimentation.
If one partner just isn’t interested, that is okay too. There are so many other fun options to try instead in the bedroom!
2. Consider an Enema
If you are worried anal sex will feel dirty or gross and prefer a squeaky clean experience, consider using an enema to clean the lower half of your rectum following a bowel movement. Although it isn’t necessary, some people prefer the feeling of cleanliness prior to a romp.
3. Keep Nails Trimmed and Neatly Groomed
Groomed, trimmed nails reduce the risk of scratching your partner. Also, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before and after anal sex, making sure to clean under your nails too. This is especially important if you will be moving on to vaginal play following anal play.
4. Wear a Condom or Dental Dam
Condoms or dental dams reduce the risk of transmitting/contracting STIs. When moving from the anus to the vagina, it is crucial to use a new condom.
5. Find Your Favourite Position
Many people enjoy lying on their stomach with their partner behind them for anal sex. Doggy style is another easy, perfect-for-anal position. In doggy, the receiving partner can slowly back up to the inersitive partner so they are fully in control of pace and depth. This is especially nice for a first time receiver that has any hesitations about anal sex.
6. LUBE, LUBE, and MORE LUBE!
Adequate lube cannot be stressed enough. Water-based options are best with condoms as they do not break down condoms. A wash cloth or baby wipes can be kept on hand to clean up any excess lubricant.
7. Go Slow and Check In Often
Allow at least 10 to 15 minutes of foreplay to get warmed up. This will help you — and your anal sphincter — relax. Being as relaxed and comfortable as possible is key for a fun experience.
Go slow, communicate often and honestly, use a lot of lubrication, and stop if anything feels too painful. The object shouldn’t be to achieve full penile penetration right away. Try working your way up from one finger to two and so on before moving to penile penetration. Toys specifically designed for anal sex make great options as well.
8. Poop Is Normal
The reality of anal sex is that there is likely to be some poop involved, even if you do use an enema or wash up beforehand. If the idea of poop makes you squeamish, perhaps other sexual adventures might be more suited to you.
9. Always Clean Up
Although there is likely to be a bit of poop involved, your anus and rectum and probably a lot cleaner than you would expect. However, microscopic fecal matter is always present. Wearing condoms and washing up well after is the best way to prevent infections or bacterial transmission. Again, never go from the anus to the vagina or mouth without completely washing up and changing your condom.
If you and your partner are both curious about anal sex and have a trusted relationship, anal sex can be a fun way to explore your desires and discover new ways of experiencing pleasure. As long as you keep communication open and honest and take the proper precautions, anal sex can be a safe and pleasurable experience.
If you try anal sex and find out it isn’t for you — or if you have zero interest in ever trying it — no worries! There are plenty of other ways to have fun and enjoy your partner, too!
Wishing you self-love and safe pleasure!