I think I’ve said before that I have a complicated relationship with anal sex. I was pressured to engage in it at a young age, long before I was ready. As a result, I pretty much shut it down and made it a hard limit in subsequent relationships. I did eventually explore it again, and even discovered that I quite liked it!
Nowadays, anal is only an occasional part of my sex life. I have to be really in the mood, and my body and brain have to be cooperating at the same time. But when the stars align enough for me to want to do it, I typically really enjoy it. Apart from the obvious and huge factor of being with safe and respectful partners, there are a few things I’ve learned along the way that have improved my relationship with anal sex enormously.
I recently learned that “Anal August” is apparently a thing. So in recognition of that, here are six things to be aware of – and six mistakes not to make – if you want to have anal sex of any kind successfully. (Note: my definition of “successful” anal sex is anything that is consensual, pleasurable, and safe for all parties involved. Beyond that, you do you. We don’t do prescriptive around here.)
Don’t Skimp on the Lube
We all know that we need to use tonnes and tonnes of lube to have anal sex successfully, right? Well, you probably need even more lube than you think. No, add a bit more. No, more than that. Okay, now you’re good. If things don’t feel slippery wet, you’re probably not using enough. If anything is hurting, catching, or you can feel a lot of friction, you’re definitely not using enough.
It’s also a good idea to keep adding lube regularly, particularly if you’re using water-based as it will dry up after a while. I like silicone lube for anal sex because it’s so slippery and lasts ages (but remember it’s not a good idea to use silicone lube with silicone toys.)
A bonus tip: please never, ever use “numbing” or “desensitising” lube. Pain is your body’s way of letting you know that something is wrong. If you can’t feel it, you may not notice if you’re being harmed until it’s too late. Plus, anal sex is supposed to be pleasurable! If you’re numbing your body to get through it, please consider whether it’s something you are even truly desiring or consenting to. Seriously, these products should not exist and can get in the fucking bin.
Apart from lube, the number one key to enjoying anal play is to go slowly. This means not rushing into it before or unless you’re ready. It also means exploring one step at a time, with no pressure.
You probably won’t get an entire penis or dildo in your butt the first time you try anal sex. That’s totally normal. Even if you only get the tip of one finger inside, that’s a success as long as you had a good time. I say this all the time with kink, but it’s true for any kind of sex: it is always better to end a session thinking “I’d like to do more next time” than to end it thinking “fuck, I went too far.”
Don’t forget about exploring externally, too. Anal play isn’t all about penetration! There’s a reason rimming (oral sex performed on the anus) is so popular. That entire area is really sensitive and having it stroked, licked, or teased can feel really good. Even just running a lubed-up finger across the anal opening can provide an intensely erotic sensation.
Don’t Restrict Yourself to Hands and Dicks
Anal sex toys are often erroneously categorised as “for men.” This is problematic in a couple of ways. First, “sex toys for men” is usually used synonymously with “for people with dicks.” And by now we all know that not everyone with a penis is a man, don’t we? Aside from this, everyone has a butt! Some anal toys are designed specifically to stimulate the prostate. And it’s true that if you were assigned female at birth, you don’t have a prostate. However, no matter what type of genitals you have, the butt is packed with nerve endings and sensitive spots that feel really good when stimulated.
What I’m really saying is: get yourself some butt toys! They can be a great way to start out, explore anal play solo, or expand your repertoire with a partner.
If you’ve never done anal play before, start with a mini butt plug (I like Godemiche’s Plug B in small) and work your way up. After that, you can try a larger plug or a small slimline dildo. I like the Godemiche Peg for a beginner anal dildo or just as a great option for those who prefer smaller and slimmer toys. And if you’d like to fuck your partner anally but don’t have (or don’t want to use) a bio-cock, a good strap-on harness should be on your shopping list.
Don’t Put Pressure on Yourself or Your Partner
Pressure, whether self-imposed or placed upon you by someone else, is one of the ultimate libido killers. It also erodes consent, since a person who is being pressured may not feel able to say yes or no to an activity freely.
If you’d like to have anal sex with your partner, raise it and see how they feel about it. They may say no, in which case you need to respect that. You might decide to explore on your own to scratch that itch, using anal toys such as butt plugs, dildos, or butt strokers. They might be enthusiastic and all for it. Or they might be open to it but nervous or hesitant. Wherever they are, meet them there with love and acceptance.
Treat yourself in the same way. You don’t need to feel any pressure to have anal sex for any reason. Some people feel pressured because a partner really wants to try anal, because they worry they will be seen as prudish or uptight if they don’t, or because they think it is a “standard” part of their sexual orientation (fun fact: according to a 2011 survey of men who have sex with men, less than 40% reported engaging in anal sex with their last sexual partner. Many never do it at all.)
For any kind of sexual exploration, a safe and pressure-free environment is vital as a base from which to explore.
Don’t Forget Sexual Health
Like all kinds of sex, anal sex carries a risk of passing on a sexually transmitted infection (STI.) Current data also indicates that it is a higher risk activity than vaginal, oral, toy, or hand sex. The best ways to keep yourself and your partner safe are to get tested regularly, negotiate your safer sex boundaries clearly, and use a condom for penetrative anal sex.
Don’t forget that rimming, like any other forms of oral sex, can carry an STI risk. Depending on your safer sex boundaries, you may wish to use a dam (or cut up condom) for rimming.
Hand sex is low risk for STI transmission, but it is still possible. Being diligent with hand washing, and using gloves if you like, can lower the risk further (and using gloves is essential if you have any open cuts on your hands.)
Anal sex with hands can also facilitate a transfer of bacteria even if you are both/all STI-negative. If you’re switching between anal and genital stimulation with hands, change gloves or wash your hands in between. Even a freshly washed butt can transmit bacteria that can cause urinary tract infections and other complications, particularly for people with vaginas.
For the same reasons, never go from anal to vaginal penetration with the same penis or dildo without having a thorough wash or sterilising the toy in between.
Don’t Stress If It’s Not For You
Like anything else, anal sex isn’t for everyone. You might reflect and decide that you have no interest in trying it, now or possibly ever. That’s cool! You might try it and realise you don’t like it. That’s fine, too! You’ve learned valuable information about yourself!
What do you wish you’d known before you tried to have anal sex?
This post contains affiliate links.