According to a 2016 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report titled “Sexual Behavior, Sexual Attraction, and Sexual Identity in the United States,” 44 percent of straight men and 36 percent of straight women polled between 2006 and 2008 reported that they’ve experimented with anal sex at least once in their lives. Though often associated with gay sex, the report’s findings suggest something else entirely: Anal sex in America is actually being had by heterosexuals. It all begs the question: Is anal sex part of your sexual repertoire?
Whether you’ve tried anal before or not—or if you’re simply curious about what it’s like—take it from me: When performed correct, this long-time porn staple is one of the most pleasurable, safe, and absolutely thrilling sex acts you can do. After all, anal sex isn’t just a kink—it’s a deeply pleasurable and intense experience that any curious couple should consider. From the right lube to the right emotional preparation to the right foods to eat, here’s everything you need to know about having your best sex yet.
1. Talk about it before you try it.
Get this: A National Survey of Sex and Behavior study showed that women who have anal sex orgasm more frequently than those who don’t. Yet even in the face of such reports, the “raunchy” stigma surrounding anal sex remains. This is understandable, of course, given that we’re talking about, well, the anus. But for many people, the hesitance to engage in anal sense could potentially be wrapped up in any lingering issues of sexual identity.
Whatever the case, if anal play is something that you want to explore with your partner, begin by having a conversation and asking some questions about their thoughts on the matter. Have they done it? Did they like it? Does the thought of it appeal to them? From there you can establish if you and your partner may be ready and willing to give it a try.
2. Do your research.
Before you try it, watch some porn together that features some friendly-looking ass love. Ideally, this should be a clip in which anal is just a part of a scene, not its focus.
Moreover, the receptive performer should appear to be enjoying having fingers, toys, and penises in his or her bottom—not enduring it. Also, please be mindful that analistas in porn are consummate professionals: part actors, part contortionists, part athletes, part sideshow acts. As you’re watching, remind yourselves of this and be cognizant of the fact that these incredible performances wouldn’t be possible without an enormous amount of negotiation, practice, skill, experience preparation, and—as we’ll get to in a moment—lube.
3. Fact: Anal sex done right should not hurt.
Anal sex will feel different for everyone. Many report that it feels like being “filled-up” or your body is constantly “expanding,” offering a more intense, “tingly” orgasm. Others say it’s like have a deep-tissue massage that somehow manages to pull on all of the right places. Whatever the case, it all depends on your anatomy, your ability to relax, the amount of lube, the size and shape of the penis or penis-shaped object that’s being inserted, and other factors. But whatever it feels like, if done right it should not be a painful experience.
4. Anal sex is a high-risk sexual activity.
This is a bummer, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention it. The truth is that anal sex puts people at greater risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections than pretty much any other sexual activity. Data from the CDC shows that receptive anal sex is the most high risk sexual behavior with regard to HIV transmission. Out of every 10,000 exposures to an infected source, 50 will result in the receptive partner acquiring the disease. That’s a transmission rate 10 times higher than penile-vaginal intercourse But there’s even bad news for people who have been screened for STIs and had negative results across the board. According to the American Cancer Society, anal sex also increases the risk of anal cancer in both men and women.
5. Now, once you’re ready, here’s how to begin.
If the receiving partner is new to butt play, you need to be all kinds of nice to his or her rear end, to create positive and pleasurable associations with the act every time you have sex. Take every opportunity to kiss and compliment their cheeks in the days and weeks up until you decide to have anal sex.
When you perform oral sex, explore the perineum (in colloquial terms, the “taint”) with your tongue, and gently massage the anus with your hands. If you’re having vaginal sex, always caress her buttocks and pat her buns, spreading them slightly. Tell her that you are going to gently rub on and around her anus with a well-lubed finger and get her consent for doing so. While doing this, frequently ask for feedback from her. This will create a safe and warm environment in which to proceed.
6. Familiarize yourself with the anatomy.
The anus surrounded by two sets of muscles that open and close the external and internal sphincters. The external sphincter is easy to access and relatively easy to clench shut or relax. The internal sphincter is located around an inch to an inch-and-a-half farther in. It doesn’t take orders nearly so readily, but with practice, it too can be brought under control. Simply put, it’s the job of these muscles to keep fecal matter in check.
Now, beyond the vestibule of the anus is the rectum. It’s a tubular shaped sack that is around 4 to 6 inches in length in most people. At the top of the rectum, the digestive tract takes a 90 degree turn like a kink in a hose. Beyond that kink is the sigmoid colon. For more than 99.99% of human history, people would squat to poop, a posture that unkinks the lower digestive tract and is more likely to result in getting everything out in one fell swoop. That’s important to remember if and when you begin to experiment with positioning later on.
7. Yes, you should experiment on your own. (Your partner will thank you.)
Male or female, gay or straight, you should experience firsthand what it feels like to have something in your anus, because the experience will inform your knowledge in the bedroom later. The next time you’re in the shower, put some shower gel or soap on your fingers and have a slow exploration session.
Begin by massaging only the exterior of the anus for a few minutes. Then, put the pad of your index or middle finger on the opening. Practice contracting your external sphincter muscle for a count of three then relaxing it for a count of three. After a few rounds of this, you’ll begin to gain an appreciation for just how much control you can exert over this muscle and once you can contract and relax with ease, push the pad of your finger in about a quarter inch while relaxed.
Perform another set of five contractions and releases on your finger tip before pushing it in yet another quarter inch. Keep going in this way until your finger is beyond the second sphincter and inside your rectum. Once you’re in, try massaging the walls of your rectum as well as moving your fingers in and out. Take a few sessions of alone time to learn what feels good back there and what doesn’t. How do you feel about two fingers? Three? Through this exercise, you’ll learn a lot of vital information you can use later.
8. What you need to know about the “exit area.”
Under normal circumstances, the rectum should be clear of any significant amount of poop. By the time fecal matter enters the rectum, you’re usually en route to the nearest serviceable bathroom. “The anus and the lower part of the rectum actually have very little fecal material in them, which means it tends to not be nearly as dirty as you think,” writes clinical sexologist Dr. Kat Van Kirk in Cosmopolitan. To make a mess even less likely…
9. If you want to be super clean, you should eat more fiber and drink more water.
This should be part of your lifestyle whether or not you’re having anal sex, because a full and complete bowel emptying is not only euphoric but it’s also super healthy.
Now, if anal sex is on the menu, you really want to be really emphasizing fiber in your diet—not just on the day of, but in the weeks before you have anal sex. Also, try and spread your fiber intake over all of your meals and snacks and not just in one go. Water is another very important component in helping you clean house in one fell swoop. Aim to drink a half gallon of water per day.
10. Repeat after me: “Lube, lube, lube…”
The two most important things to look for when selecting a lube for anal sex is viscosity and composition. Thicker lubes are best for anal sex. That’s because the walls of the anus are thinner than vaginal walls and require a lube that can keep them nice and slippery to reduce the chances of (ouch!) cuts and tears inside the rectum.
A silicone-based lube is likely your best bet for anal sex, because it’s condom safe (unlike oil-based lubes), doesn’t evaporate quickly (unlike water-based lubes), and doesn’t have the slipperiest feel. We recommend something like Wet Platinum Premium Silicone lubricant, which is available at (where else?) Amazon.
11. Don’t fear the butt plug.
Don’t panic at those words: We’re not suggesting you go full BDSM. The truth is, using a plug will get the receptive partner used to the feeling of having something, well, in there. Also, if you have her start wearing it while having regular sex, she’ll begin to associate the feeling of being anally activated with great sex. A great plug is Fun Factory’s Bootie model. And for more great items to buy for your bedroom, here are the 30 Sex Toys to Enhance Your Love Life.
12. Eat light in the lead up to anal sex.
As the receptive partner, you should always eat light and avoid fatty foods on a day when you’re planning to have anal sex. Fatty foods tend to make stools softer and increase the likelihood of some poop being left behind after a bathroom visit.
13. Clear the area.
You probably know the things that tend to bring on a hearty, satisfying, and complete BM for you. It could be a good night’s sleep, a jog, some black coffee, a certain time of day. Take whatever steps necessary to get it all out. To that end, many people swear by the Squatty Potty, which purports to unkink the colon and facilitate everything coming out at once.
14. Get wet and wild.
The psychological effects of having an enema may be as important to enjoyable anal sex as the physical ones. Sluicing out the rectum is simply a hedge against the possibility of a mess, and if the receptive partner is less worried about spraying the immediate area with poop, they are more likely to relax throughout their body and enjoy the experience. You can get a disposable enema at your local pharmacy but if you find that you like anal sex enough to put it in your sexy-time rotation, you can get something a reusable. This one even comes with FDA approval.
15. Expect the best, prepare for the worst.
Despite all this prep work, there’s still a slim chance that things could go all wrong. So put down an old towel or sheet, have some moist wipes close at hand and, in the unlikely event that, you know, something bad happens, assure each other them that a fuss won’t be made and that a contingency plan is in place. The towel will be spirited away, you’ll both jump in the shower, where some serious TLC will be administered.
Again, the receptive partner’s ability to breathe and relax is the difference between an experience that makes them go “wow” or one that makes them go “ow…” Have a glass of wine or imbibe something herbal if you find it helps you to relax and unwind. But don’t go crazy.
“Just as you shouldn’t operate heavy machinery while under the influence, you shouldn’t experiment with anal sex while drunk, either,” say sexperts Em&Lo of emandlo.com. “Pain is a sign you’re doing something wrong, and if you’re wasted, you won’t know when to stop.”
Repeat: there’s no such thing as too much lube. Apply liberally and often.
17. Be shallow.
If you’ve followed all of the steps above, she won’t be thrown for a loop by the feeling of something in her butt—even if what you’re presenting her with is more sizable than fingers, a plug, or a dildo. At the beginning, though, remember: Slow and shallow is the name of the game, at least until the receptive partner says otherwise.
18. Some positions are better than others.
If you’re the penis owner, it may be a good idea to get behind your partner and let them back into your penis at his or her own pace, controlling the situation. Whether they’re new to anal or not, chances are they’ll need a moment or two some time to acclimate to the feeling and may need you to stay statue-still.
Use this time to apply more lube to the area. Again—there’s really no such thing as too much when it comes to anal. Let the receptive partner dictate the depth and speed of the action. (As noted above, the rectum is only 4 to 6 inches long in most people.) For some people, anal sex is most comfortable “doggie-style.” Others prefer to be face-to-face, or even on-top.
19. If you have anal sex, only have anal sex.
Truth: the anus and rectum are bound to have bacteria that doesn’t belong in a vagina. In porn, tongues, fingers, toys, and penises are pulled out of one hole and shoved into a neighboring one all of the time. But in real life, that sort of thing could potentially cause a bacterial infection. Here’s the cardinal rule: If anything goes in a butthole, it gets washed before it finds itself in a vagina. Got it? Good.
20. No fast exits.
“Always pull out slowly and gently, even if your partner is screaming, “Get the f*&$ out!!” say Em & Lo. “The movement can feel even more intense in the reverse direction.”
And once it’s out, remember to cuddle. Anal can be an intense experience, especially for a first-time receiver, so don’t forget to administer plenty of aftercare in the way of kisses and sweet nothings.
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