It is best to try anal play with a partner or partners with whom you have good, solid communication, and trust is a must.
As part of our Summer of Sex series, board-certified sex coach, sex educator, and sex worker Raquel Savage recently took over our Instagram with a live Q&A session on all things anal. For those who were unable to watch the stream, I’ve distilled Raquel’s stream into 10 Takeaways that hopefully capture the essence of the knowledge and philosophy she so graciously shared with us.
This is for any and everyone interested in trying or expanding their experience with anal pleasure, whether giving or receiving. From the basics, like always make sure there is clear and enthusiastic consent—“surprise anal” is never okay and is, in fact, a form of sexual violation—to things you may have never even considered.
1. You don’t have to do anal
There’s a lot of talk about butt stuff these days, particularly ass-eating, and you may feel pressured to engage in anal play as it becomes more and more normalized. Always remember that you are never obligated to participate in any sex act that you do not want to participate in. This goes for people of all genders, sexualities, and orientations.
2. Anyone can do anal, but not everyone does
With any given sex act, there are plenty of assumptions made about it, especially sex acts that fall out of the standard cisheteronormative “penis in vagina” understanding of intercourse. Anal play is no different. Perhaps most predominantly, people tend to assume that all gay men engage in anal—penetrative or otherwise—and that’s simply not true. Not only are there many different ways to have sex, but we can also never assume someone’s genitalia or how they engage with it based on their gender and/or sexuality.
3. There are many types of anal activities
Engage the whole booty! Know, first and foremost, that penile penetration is not the only path. You can also incorporate analingus (also known as ass-eating), fingering, pegging, butt plugs, and anal beads. Definitely try external stimulus, like booty rubbing, massaging, kissing, licking, spanking, and/or flogging (for those into that scene). For those with a penis, a vibrator on the taint is a great source of pleasure as it helps to stimulate the P-Spot (prostate), and is a good method for people who may not want to engage with a penis—due to dysphoria or otherwise.
4. Anal Anxiety is totally normal
It’s okay if you have some trepidation beforehand or if you have lots of questions going into it. It’s even okay to be nervous! Talk to your partner(s) about it—about your feelings and theirs. Make sure everyone is on the same page and that you’ve established necessary boundaries and safety precautions. The best way to work through this anxiety is solid communication with your partner(s) and methods of relaxation (Refer to #7).
5. What to expect from anal play
The anus is a sphincter, it’s a tight hole. Inserting things into it will be a bit of an uncomfortable sensation and maybe even a little painful sometimes, but the pain should not be unbearable. There should not be blood. If the pain is too much, stop what you are doing, apply more lube, and try to relax. It’s okay to stop if it hurts too much.
Everybody poops! It’s up to you to decide whether or not it’s something you’re willing to deal with—on either end—but if you are going to be engaging in butt stuff, you should go in with the understanding that there is a possibility that you might encounter poop at some point. It’s okay if you decide that you can’t stomach it.
6. How to prepare and how to stay safe
- First, ask yourself: Do you really wanna do this? It’s okay if you decide that you don’t (Refer to #1)!
- If you decide that you want to proceed and you are trying it for the first time, please make sure that you are completely sober. Substances can lower our inhibitions and give us courage to try new things, but being under the influence can also prevent you from registering when you might be pushing beyond your limits and hurting yourself or your partner(s) in some way.
- Get tested, and make sure anyone you are having sex with has been tested as well.
- Use barriers—condoms for penises and dildos, dental dams for analingus, and gloves for fingering.
- It’s okay to use an enema or to douche if you want to clear the bowels beforehand, but it is not a requirement. Simply having a bowel movement a little while prior to penetration should suffice.
- Trim your nails!
7. Relax your ass
Do some relaxation activities not centered around butt first. Try non-sexual things like lavender candles or a warm bath. Use touch to help relax and arouse yourself and your partner(s) as well, like massaging, kissing, and oral sex. And, of course, remember to #EngageTheWholeBooty with things like kissing, rubbing, and light spanking.
Some people like to do anal training (starting with a small anal toy or butt plug and working your way up to larger objects over the course of a few days), and that is perfectly fine, but it’s not something that is required. If you are sufficiently relaxed, you won’t need it.
8. Be patient, use plenty of lube, and it can feel amazing
The rectum does not self-lubricate the way a vagina does. That’s why lube is a requirement when penetrating it and why you should always take your time. You should use water and silicone-based lube with condoms. If you are not using condoms, you should use an oil-based lube instead.
If you are not using a penis for penetration—instead using something like a butt plug or pegging using a strap-on with a harness—it’s best to use a firmer toy, rather than a soft one, as these make insertion much easier.
The anus has a large concentration of nerve endings, which is why it is so pleasurable to stimulate this part of the body. In addition to this, anal penetration can also stimulate the G-spot for vagina owners and the P-spot for penis owners. For someone who has never experienced it, this opens up possibilities for new sexual pleasure and orgasms.
- Clean up, deposit all barriers in the trash ASAP, and shower if necessary.
- Never go straight to vaginal penetration without washing first. This puts people at risk of bacteria and infections in the vagina.
- Know that it’s typical to feel different when going to the bathroom for a day or so afterward. Don’t be alarmed.
10. Communicate at every step
Check in with your partner(s) before, during, and after. Let them know that you care about them, their comfort, their safety, and that these things are priorities for you.
It is best to try anal play with a partner or partners with whom you have good, solid communication, and trust is a must. You need to be able to feel relaxed, confident, comfortable, and safe—as you should during all sexual activities, but especially when you are trying something new that may seem intimidating at first.
Ask your partner(s) about past or current trauma(s). Unfortunately, many of us have traumas attached to being touched in certain areas or in certain ways or even being in certain positions due to abuse or assault(s). Because of this, it is important to talk about things that might make someone feel panicked or unsafe. It’s also a major reason why you should never pressure your partner(s) into anal play or any other form of sex.
This isn’t just for people with whom you are in a committed and/or ongoing romantic or sexual relationship. Communication in sexual situations is important, regardless of whether or not the situation is casual. Sexual health and safety are always important.
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