Anal sex is something that we're always getting questions about. We've been asked about everything from potential health risks to why some people enjoy having anal sex... and just about anything else you could imagine. We compiled a list of the five most common anal sex questions and recently sat down with Adam & Eve's resident sexpert Dr. Jenni Skyler, a certified sex therapist with a doctorate in clinical sexology, to get the answers from an authority on the topic.
1. What is anal sex?
Anal sex includes all erotic activities that pleasurably stimulate the anus — light touching of the anus with a finger, licking of the anus with the tongue (also known as rimming), half-inch penetration of the anus with a finger, using an anal sex toy, and fuller penetrative intercourse past the anus and into the rectum with a finger, toy or penis. It can be fun learning how to have anal sex but what’s most important is making sure you’re ready and prepared.
2. Is anal sex safe?
Yes! Safety for anal sex involves consent, comfort, anal lube, hygiene, and diet/nutrition. Both partners engaging in any kind of anal stimulation need to discuss together if the activity feels good for both. Lack of consent can induce pain, creating hemorrhoids and tearing sensitive tissues in the anal cavity. Therefore, enthusiastic consent to explore is essential. Safely receiving anal intercourse requires an ability to relax both the external and internal sphincter muscles for comfortable penetration. It may be uncomfortable in the beginning; however, deep breathing to allow time for the muscles to relax is helpful. Solo practice with a finger is also helpful to acclimate the anus to penetration. Many people solo-practice in the shower or bathtub to help soften the anal tissues.
Since the anus cannot self-lubricate the way a vagina tends to be able to, the giver or person penetrating needs to apply generous lube to their finger, toy or penis. For hygiene reasons, many people who receive anal stimulation like to have a bowel movement beforehand, and some even chose to use an enema or a douche to be extra clean. Lastly, to prevent anal tissue irritation, having full-bodied, fiber-filled, healthy bowel movements that easily exit the body keep the anal cavity tear-free and in good health. When a person's diet lacks fiber, fruit, and vegetables, bowel movements can be more constipated and strained, potentially enhancing muscular tension in the anal cavity.
3. What is the best position for anal sex?
Anal sex, from soft stimulation on just the anus to fuller penetration into the rectum, can be done in many positions. Receivers might like being on all fours so the giver has full access and visibility of the back region. In this position, the receiver can even hug a pillow to help relax into the position and activity. The bent-over-bed position allows the receiver to melt into the mattress or pillow, enhancing the potential for relaxation. A similar position is for the receiver to bend over the bed itself or a counter-top. With a counter-top, particularly in the bathroom, both people can look into the mirror for extra erotic eye contact. Some couples like missionary position as the receiver can lift his or her legs in the air, or wrap them around their lover as they are penetrated. This position allows for the most eye contact if that is desired. Lastly, receivers can ride their lover either facing them or reverse cow-girl/cow-boy. This position is good for a beginner who might want to control the speed and/or depth. You might be surprised at how many anal sex positions there are but you’ll have a great time trying them out.
4. Are there any anal sex health risks?
Yes. Like any erotic activity, sexually transmitted infections can be passed from person to person. Using condoms can reduce your chances of getting infected, but they're not completely foolproof. Again, as with any erotic activity, if there is lack of consent, or even anxiety and struggle to relax, it can be painful, and potentially even cause hemorrhoids or tissue tearing. When it comes to rimming, there is a bacterial risk if any fecal matter comes in contact with the mouth. The same is true for the vagina, which is why it's important not to switch from anal penetration to vaginal penetration without first cleaning the finger, toy, or penis.
5. Are there benefits with anal sex?
Anal sex has many benefits to include the pleasure of ample nerve endings, the orgasmic potential, and the erotic taboo nature of the activity. The nerve endings of the anus are connected to the pelvic floor muscles and border the genitals. They can deliver a lot of pleasure for the receiver, especially around the opening of the anus. Some individuals can orgasm, particularly men if they stimulate the prostate which is deeper in the rectum. There are even some sex toys made specifically for prostate stimulation! Because anal sex gets labeled as taboo and/or dirty, the forbidden thrill can be psychologically sexy. For those who get off on taboo fantasies or sex, anal sex can be just what the doctor ordered!