Curious about backdoor play? Sexologist Dr. Jenni Skyler shares what you need to know for safe & enjoyable anal sex.

Chapter 10: An Expert Guide to Anal Sex

Chapter 10: An Expert Guide to Anal Sex

Anal sex was a huge taboo back in the 1970s, but it’s become more accepted over the last decade. While there are still some lingering stigmas around it, anal has finally come into its own as something that (almost) everyone is interested in trying at least once. As I often say in my Savvy Sex video series, “Sometimes the taboo of anal is exactly what makes it the forbidden fruit of ultimate sexiness.”

What is Anal Sex?

what is anal sex

Anal sex includes all erotic activities that pleasurably stimulate the anus – light touching, licking (also known as rimming), and penetration with a finger, toy or penis.

Anal sex has numerous benefits. The nerves in the anus are connected to the pelvic floor muscles and border the genitals. This makes them particularly sensitive for more thrilling stimulation — sensitive enough that some people can orgasm from anal play, especially men if it includes the prostate. Plus, the taboo nature of anal play can provide its own special thrill.

Talking About Anal

Talking About Anal

Anal play and penetration can be safe and fun if you’re willing to take a risk and try it.

Like all other aspects of sex, communication is crucial for good anal. Sit down with your partner for a candid discussion. Tell them that you’re curious about anal sex and would like to try it. They might want to experiment just as much as you but feel too shy to talk about it.

Your partner’s likely to have plenty of questions, and you’ll probably have a few of your own too. Finding the answers together can be a good bonding exercise. It helps ensure that you and your partner are both fully informed about what anal entails and ready to try it.

There are a lot of common myths and misconceptions surrounding anal sex. Here are a few of the most egregious rumors I’ve heard over the years.

Only gay men like anal sex. This is completely false. There are many people of all sexual orientations and genders who enjoy anal play. And, just for the record, anal sex doesn’t make you gay either.

Anal sex is dangerous. As long as you take proper precautions (as discussed in the next section on preparations), anal sex is completely safe. There is one caveat, however. The anus contains certain germs and bacteria that can be transferred to the vagina, so you shouldn’t use the same toy or finger or penis for vaginal and anal play unless you clean it thoroughly between sessions or wrap it up with a condom beforehand.

Anal sex is less intimate, which makes it better for attachment-free hookups. This is also false. Anal releases the same hormones and endorphins as vaginal sex, which help create those feelings of intimacy and attachment between partners. Any sexual act performed with someone you care for can feel quite intimate. Likewise, any sexual act performed with someone you don’t really care about will lack intimacy.

When learning about anal, make sure you get your information from a trusted and reliable source. Adam & Eve’s Guide to Sex has a ton of educational articles about anal sex and plenty of other topics too.

How to Prepare for Anal Sex

Talking About Anal

After you’ve finished learning all about anal, you’ll need to develop a game plan. While backdoor play is something that more experienced partners can do in the spur of the moment, beginners should take it slow and steady for the most enjoyable and comfortable experience.

Here’s my recommended checklist:

Practice relaxation. The most important thing to remember is that anal requires Relaxation. 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 or anal toy can acclimate the anus to penetration. Many people practice in the shower or bathtub to help soften the anal tissues and explore without the pressure of a partner.

Keep it clean. For many people, feeling clean is an important step before partner exploration. Cleaning can be as simple as using the bathroom and wiping extra-thoroughly, preferably with a wet wipe. The anus is surprisingly clean on its own provided you practice good hygiene. If you or your lover are still concerned, you can use a disposable enema. Though enemas are not needed, it can offer the psychological support of extra cleanliness for squeaky clean and worry-free fun.

Use anal lube. Unlike a vagina, the anus doesn’t naturally produce any lube, so you’ll need to stock up on some before engaging in any form of anal play. Make sure you pick up anal lubes that are specially formulated to handle the rigors of backdoor play. Anal lubes are generally thicker than regular ones, so they stay in place and provide a protective barrier. Anal lubes also last longer, so you don’t need to re-apply them nearly as often.

Communicate & ask for consent. Lastly, keep talking with your partner throughout the process. You might have a great game plan, but also be prepared to back off if it becomes too much in the moment. Checking in during each stage is essential to keep both partners on the same page.

Having Anal Sex

having anal Sex

If you are going for anal penetration, start with plenty of foreplay. This can include sensual massage, genital stimulation, oral sex, and of course some backdoor teasing.

Foreplay is a good time to start applying the anal lube… and don’t be stingy! Squirt a generous amount on the backdoor before spreading it around in a slow and steady circular motion. This helps the anal muscles relax and makes it less likely for them to clench up during penetration. (Sphincter clenching is one of the common causes for discomfort during anal sex.) Add some more anal lube and start working it inside the rear with a finger or two. Remember, that might be all the stimulation you or your lover can handle at first.

If you chose to keep going, apply some more lube to an anal toy of your choice. While you could use a regular sex toy for anal play, it’s not recommended. Anal toys come with special safety features, such as flared bases or finger rings, that limit just how deep you can insert them. The flared base also prevents the toy from getting sucked up and stuck in the anal canal. Anal toys are also made from special non-porous materials that won’t trap germs or bacteria, which makes them more hygienic as well. Gently tease the tip of the toy in and around the backdoor to make sure it’s relaxed. Slowly ease the tip in and hold it in place for a few seconds to give the body time to adjust. If everything still feels fine, you can slowly insert more of the toy.

Sometimes, just inserting a toy is enough for anal beginners. As you both gain experience with anal play, you could try thrusting the toy in and out. Some partners enjoy using an anal vibrator. The vibrations can make the toy easier to insert and, for some, more stimulating.

If you are aiming for anal penetration with your penis, lube up your member and your partner's backdoor. You can never have too much lube. Once your tip is inside, check with your partner to make sure they’re feeling okay. Give them a few seconds to adjust to the potentially unusual sensations. From here, slowly pump your shaft in a shallow fashion. If your lover is comfortable with continuing, you can move slightly deeper. The receiver needs to control the pace and depth to prevent injury or clenching. Once comfortable with a steady pace and depth, partners can move to faster and deeper.

When you’ve finished having anal sex, make sure to throw away the condom immediately (if you used one) before washing off the shaft thoroughly in warm, soapy water. Washing your lover off with a warm, wet cloth can help ease any lingering soreness they might feel.

Recapping Best Tips & Tricks for Anal

If you use an enema, do so in the shower. Enemas can get messy pretty fast – especially if you’ve never used one before. Clean up is much easier if you use them in the shower.

Maintain stimulation. Make sure you continue stimulating the receiving partner, even during anal sex. For women, that may mean playing with their breasts and/or clit. For men, the prostate stimulation from anal sex can be enough, but they’re sure to appreciate some stroking now and then too!

Limit depth and speed. Beginners need to get acclimated to receiving anal penetration. Whether finger, toy, or penis, go slow and shallow until the receiver says “more.” If your partner’s a little longer than average, or you are worried about him getting carried away, you can grab the lower half of his shaft. This allows you to control just how far he can go. Some couples opt for a penis ring instead, but these can slip on his shaft due to all the lube you’re using.

Spanking and anal can make a great match! While the butt cheeks aren’t nearly as sensitive as the clit, prostate, or G-Spot, they still contain a good number of nerves. If your partner already enjoys spanking, they might love a few extra smacks during anal sex.

Call a “time out” if it doesn’t feel good or you think your partner isn’t enjoying it. Anal isn’t right for everyone. Doing something you and your lover both enjoy is much more fun in the long run. You can always try anal again later!

Grab some wet wipes. They make preparing for anal sex and cleaning up afterwards a breeze.

Don’t switch from anal to vaginal sex. The anus contains certain bacteria and microbes that could be potentially harmful if they’re transferred to the vagina. Note that this precaution also includes sex toys. It’s one of the reasons why Adam & Eve has a special category devoted entirely to anal sex toys.

Top 3 Anal-Friendly Positions

Anal sex, from soft stimulation to full penetration, can be done in many positions. Here are our top three favorites. These positions allow the person who’s getting penetrated to take control and set the pace, which usually makes the experience more comfortable and enjoyable.

Anal Cowgirl or Reverse Cowgirl

anal cowgirl sex position illustration

If you want to take it slow and steady, nothing beats this anal sex position! Anal cowgirl and reverse cowgirl have the dual benefit of allowing the partner on top to set the pace and control the depth of penetration – making it ideal if they’re worried about taking it too far too fast. It’s also a great sex position if you need to stop mid sex because you’re no longer enjoying yourself.

Anal Missionary

anal missionary sex position illustration

This position is great for mutual stimulation and teasing other body parts during anal contact. You can change the angle of penetration easily with just a pillow or two. The bottom person can also place their legs in the air or wrap them around their lover as they are penetrated. Lastly, this position also allows for the most eye contact if that is desired.

Anal Doggy

anal doggystyle sex position illustration

This position was practically made for anal! It offers a fantastic view of the action for the top, while allowing them to tease their lover easily. In this position, the bottom can even hug a pillow to help relax into the position and activity. Bending over on the bed allows the receiver to melt into the mattress or pillow, enhancing the potential for relaxation, comfort, and ultimate arousal. Because the top is generally setting the pace in this position, it’s important for them to pay close attention to the bottom and respond to their needs. A similar position is for the receiver to bend over a countertop. With a counter-top, particularly in the bathroom, both people can look into the mirror for extra erotic eye contact.

Shopping for Anal Toys: Things to Consider

If you’ve never used an anal toy before, sorting through all the different options can be difficult. After talking with the toy experts at Adam & Eve, I do have a few take-aways for you to think about.

Adam & Eve Booty Bliss Vibrating Beads

Look for a body-safe, non-porous material. This promotes better hygiene and helps prevent bacterial infection, which is especially important for anal toys. Silicone is my personal preference. It’s completely hypoallergenic, making it safe for people with sensitive skin or severe allergies. Most silicone toys are soft, smooth, and flexible for comfort. And they’re extremely durable too for long-lasting fun. Those reasons are exactly why I recommend the Booty Bliss Vibrating Beads to my clients. It even comes with a multi-function vibrating bullet for a little extra pleasure.

Naughty Silicone Butt Plug anal toy

A flared base is important. Not entirely sure what a flared base is? It refers to the bottom of the toy being much wider than the insertable portion, creating a cone-like shape. The anus has amazing suction capacity to essentially suck up anything inserted into it. A flared base prevents this from happening. The Joystick Naughty Silicone Butt Plug is a great example of an anal toy with a flared base.

Booty Boot Camp Training Kit

Shape & size are even more important than usual. The anus generally isn’t as stretchy as the vagina. Most anal toys are smaller than their vaginal counterparts to account for this. That being said, there are plenty of people who enjoy using long and thick anal toys. It really comes down to personal preference if an anal toy is the right size for you. If it’s for your partner, you should definitely talk about it with them before ordering anything. According to one of my Adam & Eve friends, they get a lot of returns from people ordering toys that are much larger than they can handle. I’m a big fan of the Booty Boot Camp Training Kit. This kit comes with three different butt plugs in a variety of sizes, so you can experiment with them.

Carefully read the specs and details. Buying a toy is like buying shoes. Everyone has a different style, preference, and size, so intuition is a big part of the buying process. Think about the different circumstances in which you might use a particular toy. If you can imagine yourself using it and enjoying it, then that toy will likely work just as well in real life.

Booty Sparks Gem Anal Plug

Go with the crowd. There’s something to be said for popularity. And right now, the Booty Sparks Gem Anal Plug. This is Adam & Eve’s most popular anal toy. They’ve sold over 175,000 of these with hundreds of positive customer reviews raving about the sparkling gem in the base and the cool, stimulating feel of the metal.