When it comes to your body, it’s important that you have the facts. Being in the dark is not doing your sexual health or self-understanding any favors.
With that sentiment in mind, we’re here to lay it all out for you when it comes to anal sex.
It's important that we talk about all kinds of sex because not everyone is having, or wants to have, "penis in the vagina" sex. If you do have "penis in the vagina" sex and are curious about something else, or are finding that that type of sex is not for you and you'd like to explore other options, it's helpful to know the facts. Even if you do learn more and decide anal sex is not a thing you'd like to try, it doesn't hurt to have the information.
If you're not comfortable reading about anal sex, that's perfectly OK, too. We have plenty of other articles about a variety of issues and wellness. Feel free to click out if you'd like! No pressure at all.
Obviously there is a lot of stuff on the internet about anal (and we don’t suggest you Google it), but most of what you’ll find is either porn or advice for sexually experienced people looking to try something new. What about the teenagers? What about the LGBTQ+ young people who need to know about this for their sexual health?
I have got you covered. Without all the run-of-the-mill hoopla, here is the lowdown on everything you need to know about butt stuff, no matter who you are, who you’re having sex with, or who you want to have sex with.
This is anal 101, for teens, beginners, and all inquisitive folk.
The anus is full of nerve endings that, for some, feel awesome when stimulated.
What is anal sex, and why do people have it?
Anal sex, though often stigmatized, is a perfectly natural way to engage in sexual activity. People have been having anal sex since the dawn of humanity. Seriously, it's been documented back to the ancient Greeks and then some. So if you’re a little worried about trying it or are having trouble understanding the appeal, just know that it isn’t weird or gross.
The anus is full of nerve endings that, for some people, feel awesome when stimulated. The opening of the butthole is where the most nerves are, so you don’t have to put anything very far up there (if you don’t want to) for it to feel good.
That being said, anal (like all sex acts) is not enjoyed by everyone, and that’s totally OK. You should do what you feel comfortable with and what feels pleasurable for you. There is no wrong way to experience sexuality, and no way is better than any other.
Is anal sex safe?
Anal sex, like any kind of sex, can be perfectly safe if you take the correct precautions. According to the CDC, you may be more vulnerable to contracting STIs or HIV if you have anal sex as the lining of the anus is more prone to damage that can open you up to infection. This risk is higher for the person receiving anal sex, though the person giving it can also be affected. To decrease that risk, it's imperative that you use both condoms and lubrication, according to Planned Parenthood, because the anus, unlike the vagina, doesn't provide natural lubrication. A silicone-based lube will provide the necessary slickness and is safe to use with condoms.
If you regularly engage in anal sex, particularly with gay or bisexual men who are not monogamous, you might also consider taking PrEP — pre-exposure prophylaxis. PrEP is a drug taken daily that can reduce your risk of contracting HIV. If you have had unprotected anal sex and you're concerned that you were exposed to HIV, you can ask your doctor for PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) within 72 hours of the potential exposure, which may reduce your risk of contracting HIV. It's important to note that neither PrEP or PEP protect against other STIs, so it's still important to use a barrier form of protection.
The bottom line is that no form of sex is completely without risk, but there are precautions you can take to make it safer.
Does anal sex hurt?
Anal sex can feel great, which is why many people include it as a regular part of their sex life. But Planned Parenthood notes that anal sex can hurt if you're not relaxed or if you don't use lube. As we explain below, it's not something you should jump into without a little preparation. Things like using plenty of lube and starting by inserting smaller things (like a finger) into your anus, then working up to bigger things (like a penis) can lessen the pain. You should also keep an open flow of communication during partnered anal sex so you can tell your partner how fast or slow they should go, if you need more lube, what feels good, and anything else that's on your mind. Great communication can help you have a more pleasurable experience.
Anal sex should never be painful if you take the correct steps, and if it is, you should stop. As Planned Parenthood notes, sex should feel good, so if it's painful or uncomfortable, ask your partner to stop.
The appeal of anal sex when you have a prostate
For those of you with prostates, being on the receiving end of anal sex can be a great experience.
First of all: What is a prostate? The prostate is a gland near the bladder that produces prostate fluid, one of the main elements of semen. It is located just in front of the rectum and can be stimulated with a toy, fingers, or penis. It feels like a solid, small bulge.
It feels good to have the prostate stimulated. This is one of the reasons receiving anal sex when you have a prostate can be very enjoyable. You can even have a prostate-induced orgasm!
The appeal of anal sex when you do not have a prostate
Just because you have a vagina does not mean anal is off-limits. Many vagina owners love anal play. You don’t need to have a prostate to enjoy anal sex. For those without a prostate, having your anus stimulated can still be great — remember all those nerve endings are still in the fold here.
It is often described as a feeling of fullness, which can be delightful. Most orgasms stem from the clitoris, including anal orgasms. The clitoris is the epicenter of pleasure for clitoris-owning people. It is the only part of the female anatomy designed specifically for pleasure. For some vagina owners, anal sex can stimulate the internal clitoris, which is highly pleasurable.
The anus is not as malleable as a vagina, which has the ability to accommodate an infant’s head by design. The anus is very tight, and the feeling of having something in your rectal area is unique. It is often described as a feeling of fullness, which can be delightful.
How to ask your partner if they're ready to try anal sex
Whether you are planning to give or receive anal sex, a conversation must take place beforehand. Enthusiastic consent is necessary for both parties to enjoy the experience.
Asking for anal can be a bit daunting, no matter who you are. Have a one-on-one with your partner and let them know that this is something you want to try. Be honest about your feelings about it. In a healthy relationship, you should be able to discuss anything openly. Everyone wants to have a good experience. If they are into it, go ahead and get started.
How to have anal sex
Here is the real deal. You can’t just decide you’re going to start having anal one day and then go for it, anchors away!
Nope. Not a great idea. You need to start slowly. The anus is a muscle that needs to be worked up to having larger objects inserted. Start with finger or a small (I do mean v. small) butt plug and either warm yourself up or have a partner help. To do this, lube up your finger or toy and gently massage the anus. As you feel more aroused and comfortable, work the object inside. Gently move it around to loosen up the area.
Never put any toy up your butt that does not have a flared base. You do not want to lose anything up there — the rectum is expansive. No, you cannot just “poop it out.”
When you do have anal sex, go slowly.
When you do have anal sex, go slowly. Regular communication with your partner is essential. If something hurts, say so and stop. Take a breather. Be sure to relax as much as possible. If you tense up, it will make things much more difficult and therefore less fun. And as always, remember to prioritize your safety and use protection.
Lube is a must
Lube is essential for comfortable (and safe) anal sex. The anus does not naturally lubricate the way a vagina does. If you want to have a good experience, the more lube the better.