A guide to fun, safe, shame-free anal sex

Out of all the items on the sexual menu, anal gets arguably the worst rap, an undeserved stigma that likely comes from a widespread lack of knowledge about butt stuff.

According to Alicia Sinclair—a certified sex educator and founder of b-Vibe, a sex toy company dedicated to anal play—one common explanation for squeamishness is a lack of preparedness. When people start experimenting with sex, they typically confine touching to their genitalia. This leaves out an orifice that, for many, turns out to be pretty pleasurable.

“The anal sphincter is really strong and it’s also really delicate and it has a lot of nerve endings, so it’s important to just remember, just like every other part of your body, you probably want to have a learning curve,” Sinclair told the Daily Dot. Vaginal sex tends to feel better when people play around with their own bodies before enlisting a partner, building up to penetration. Most of us don’t spend equal time figuring out what works for our anuses, though.

“When we talk about butt stuff,” she continued, “it’s kind of like, ‘Oh yeah, we just tried it one day.’ It’s from 0 to penis, there’s no investigation, no touching, no feelings, no kind of getting used to the sensation.”

One of the stories she hears most often, Sinclair said, is agreeing to anal to please a partner and ending up with a painful experience because both parties wandered into the act blind. If pain, fear, and guilt “are what you associate really early on with anal sex,” Sinclair added, “it is going to be a scary thing that maybe you’re a little bit reluctant to try.”

Screengrab via b/60/YouTube

But anal sex, despite the taboos and stigma, is something that a solid number of people have tried: According to a 2017 survey by Skyn condoms, 36 percent of millennials surveyed sometimes have “female anal sex” and 15 percent have “male anal sex.” As Cosmopolitan reported, rising numbers of young people seem to be engaging in anal sex, with 40 percent of 20-to-24-year-old participants in one study having tried anal, and 20 percent of women ages 20 to 39 having had anal in the past year. While numbers on a page can’t tell us anything about how much those people enjoyed their experience, they can at least help us gauge popular interest.

Anal sex needn’t be intimidating, nor any less safe than any other kind of sex, so long as you’re using protection. In other words, without bulletproof certainty that you and your partner are both mutually monogamous and unless you’ve both recently cleared in a screening for sexually transmitted diseases, use some kind of condom regardless of the orifice involved. Stern warning aside, here are Sinclair’s top DOs and DONTs for fun anal sex.

How to have anal sex: Dos and don’ts

DO:

Take the time to learn about anal

Do your research before you get started, reading up on any elements that might make you nervous or about which you might have questions. Don’t be afraid to use yourself as a test subject.

Sinclair suggests testing the waters while you shower. “Just taking a minute or so and putting a finger in and sort of just feeling around to say like, ‘Oh, yeah, how does this sensation feel and what would it feel like if someone was doing this to me?’” she said.

Solo play affords you the chance to be “both the giver and the receiver,” Sinclair said, a point that may be of particular importance when it comes to integrating sex toys. Naturally, Sinclair likes butt plugs for escalating anal pleasure but recommends taking yours for a spin by yourself first. Familiarize yourself with what might be a very new sensation before involving a partner.

Screengrab via Nicki Minaj/YouTube

Talk with your partner before you try anything

“I totally understand, sometimes it’s hard to be like, ‘Hey, I’m interested in playing with my butt, are you interested?’” Sinclair said. “Having that initial conversation will set the tone for the entire experience, especially if you do it outside the bedroom, not in the dynamic where it’s five minutes away from having sex.”

Maybe you’re thinking, OK, but it’s not like I can just broach this topic over Wednesday night chicken in the same breath as I ask to be passed the salt. But the thing is, you can. I’d say, you should. Ask whenever you feel comfortable—this ultimately isn’t a big deal question.

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Take a moment to pre-clean

As a teen and into my twenties, I occasionally heard a secondhand story about an acutely embarrassing anal-sex-induced bowel movement on some anonymous parents’ white sofa. I remember the details vividly enough that I could likely convince a stranger I was there. You may have heard some version of this same story, and you may worry that anal sex will trigger the kind of shitty interruption that becomes fodder for adolescent sleepovers from now until forever.

If you’re concerned about what your partner might find up your rectum, or if it’s been a minute since you’ve voided your bowels (Stress! Dietary irregularities! Constipation never strikes at sex-conducive moments!), or if the possibility of poop worries you, consider a pre-clean. Sinclair suggests alcohol-free baby wipes, and if you can/it makes you feel more comfortable, going to the bathroom 30-60 minutes before sex. Enemas might also appeal, but NB: Use too much water, and you might invite more mess. Sinclair recommends just a couple cups of warm water (test it on your wrist) one to two hours before anal play. Follow the instructions on an enema bulb for more specific guidance.

And, if you are using toys, please do wash them in hot soapy water between uses.

Photo via Pixabay

Take small steps

Many readers will be unused to an object of any size penetrating their anus. It’s an excellent idea to start small and scale up, taking the time your body needs to adjust to new sensations. Sinclair recommends starting with fingering if you’ve just begun solo play, graduating to larger-sized toys or a penis. That’s advisable whether you’re working with a partner or not. Go slowly, whether you’re giving or receiving.

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Use lube!

The anus does not self-lubricate, and unlubricated penetration can translate to tears in anal tissue that make it much easier to spread STIs. Add lube, liberally, keeping in mind that water-based lubes—while great for silicone sex toys—evaporate quickly and require frequent reapplication. Coconut oil makes a good natural lubricant, but no lube can guarantee your anal skin won’t tear, so again: Go slowly.

DON’T:

Double dip

“The anus and the vagina are two very distinct ecosystems, and you don’t want to spread bacteria from the anus to the vagina,” Sinclair advised. The anus houses different bacteria than the vagina does and introducing microbes from the former into the latter can result in uncomfortable infections like bacterial vaginosis. When engaging in butt stuff, wash hands and genitals before switching from orifice to orifice, and use a fresh condom or gloves when changing holes.

Photo via Pixabay (CC-BY)

Surprise your partner

Consent is key to a mutually satisfying sexual encounter. With that in mind, let’s maybe abandon the shocker: As Sinclair put it, “surprising your partner with a new sexual experience is never a good idea.” Unless you and your partner have established that a finger in the butt would be welcome at some point during the sexual encounter, maybe don’t jam a digit up there, and certainly, don’t stick your dick or your dildo in anyone’s butt before they tell you it’s okay to do so.

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/irl/how-to-have-anal-sex/

How a feminist event on anal sex challenged me to give it a try

As I walked through midtown Manhattan on my way to the Museum of Sex for B-Vibe’s “Anal Throughout the Ages” event, I felt apprehensive. As much as I love writing about sex, anal sex wasn’t really my thing. What was the big deal with anal, anyway?

Not that I hadn’t tried it. But putting objects up my rear, I’m sorry, felt a little gross in a degrading kind of way. Shit and sex aren’t supposed to mix, and the subsequent anxiety turned anal from an enjoyable experience into something that felt obscene. So I resigned myself to purely topping, not bottoming.

But as a feminist and questioner of cultural norms, I was down for women who enjoyed sticking all sorts of things in their butt. So I took a deep breath and walked into MoSex. I was immediately bombarded by overpriced dildos and bondage gear from the front-door gift shop. I tried to keep an open mind.

Anal sex, evolution’s gift to the world

Photo via B-Vibe Ana Valens

B-Vibe’s exhibit was set up a bit like a pop-up museum, with about a half-dozen black tables placed across the Museum of Sex’s Disco Lounge bar. If you’ve never been, the name is not an exaggeration. Michael Jackson’s ’70s hits boomed from the speakers and an open bar served cocktails in a room with just enough light for visitors to read through the exhibits. By the time I arrived, the attendees were mostly crowding around the bar, grabbing drinks and hanging out on the retro sofas and barstools. Perhaps they were just as hesitant as I was to start peeking around.

However, I soon realized there was a common thread: Almost everyone there was a woman. That not only piqued my interest but also made me start to relax. After all, I had regularly seen B-Vibe’s toys at the Lower East Side’s Babeland, a feminist sex toy boutique that I popped into when the mood struck me. It made sense that this event would mostly focus on women.

I started wandering. White posterboards adorned with anal sex facts were laid on each table, with photosets and factsheets printed out below. Some exhibits had historical timelines, others featured headlines from modern media about anal. One table was dedicated entirely to non-normative sex in the animal kingdom, including gay sexuality among insects and mammals. As it turns out, all sorts of animals enjoy anal. Did you know thinhorn rams sometimes mount other males and penetrate their partners until ejaculating?

Photo via B-Vibe Ana Valens

To me, the most-fascinating exhibit was the table dedicated to anal’s early anthropological history. My B-Vibe host and PR contact, Brianna, enthusiastically told me that the Moche culture in northern Peru used to sculpt detailed pottery depicting anal sex between androgynous figures. Vaginal sex practically never appeared in their sculptures, and many showed women breastfeeding during anal sex. Not just that, but neither sex partner took a submissive or domineering role—it was just two people having intercourse.

In other words, it seems the baggage anal carries varies from culture to culture.

For example, when we walked over to the Greco-Roman section, Brianna told me that anal sex emerged as a symbol of power during Western civilization’s ancient, early days. Back then, artists depicted bottoms (aka women) as lesser, while tops (aka men) were seen as powerful, domineering presences. This, unsurprisingly, took on misogynistic roots, a symbol of how women were treated in the Western world and thus how we ended up with so many women, myself included, disinterested in anal because of its subtext: Bottoming women are to be controlled, subjugated, and subsequently discarded.

Over 2,000 years later, those same values run rampant throughout our culture. Noted pro-rape men’s rights haven Return of Kings considers women who frequently have anal sex to be mentally ill, and is upset that anal is no longer a “sexual domination move used by men on women,” but rather something women are open to trying (if not outright encouraging their partners to do so). Even in the past five years, Vice published an article encouraging women not to have anal sex, warning women they’ll “shit cum” afterward.

But B-Vibe’s pop-up event was proof that people (and animals) of all kinds historically enjoyed and embraced anal—even of the female variety. B-Vibe’s founder, Alicia Sinclair, will happily tell you anything you want to know about the anus, how it operates, and why anal feels so pleasurable for so many women. And I was all ears.

We were all even given a gift for stopping by, and mine was none other than the company’s Novice Plug. It even came with a thorough guide to anal sex inside, discussing everything from washing and cleaning toys to beginner’s tips for lubricating and fingering the asshole for play. Fears of shit cum, be damned.

Anal is great, actually?

Photo via B-Vibe

After I said goodbye to B-Vibe’s team and made my way over to the train, slightly buzzed from a free rum and coke during last call, I thought about something Sinclair said: Anal is an equalizer because people of all genders can have pleasurable anal sex, from cis men to trans women. Our literal sex having doesn’t need to be defined by our genitalia and all the fraught stigmas and myths that go along with it.

That’s why it’s cool that B-Vibe is going out of its way to educate women, encouraging newcomers to start slow and get acquainted with a part of their body that they may never see or talk about. It kind of reminds me of the common wisdom spread across the queer community, where bottoming elders give newcomers tips on everything from knowing their limits to picking out a starter dildo.

So, buzzed on an empty downtown 6 train, I started psyching myself up: What if I gave anal another try? I was probably just turned off by the power-play stigma and needed a group of sex-positive women to show me that, yes, anal can be pleasurable if women are given the tools, toys, and information needed to have a blast.

As my subway train pulled into the station, that plug felt a little powerful in my gift bag. I knew it would be put to good use.

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/irl/feminist-event-anal-sex-women/