Anal play and anal sex, like many sex topics are not often discussed. There are many myths about anal play: it’s immoral; it’s weird; only sluts do anal sex; anal sex is dirty; anal sex is painful; only gay men have anal sex. Spend a moment thinking about where your ideas about anal sex/play have originated. Much of what people know originates in social myth and messages. Good information is important when thinking about anal play. Anal play/sex can be fun, clean and wonderful when approached in a positive way.
How Often do people Engage in Anal Sex?
The Sex in Australia study published in 2003 reported around 1% of heterosexual people surveyed had anal intercourse in their most recent sexual encounter (note MOST recent encounter) (de visser et al, 2003). In the same study, around 21% of heterosexual mean and 15% heterosexual women had reported engaging in anal intercourse over their lifetime.
In my practice I often field questions from men about anal sex. Some men discover the pleasures and joys of anal play and want to know if it is normal. (Yes!). While other men want to know if it is okay to want to play with their anus even though they are straight. (Again yes!)
One of the issues is the belief that only gay men enjoy or do anal sex/play. This is a myth. Not all gay men engage in anal sex/play. The anus (and rectum) has many nerves and it is through the anus the prostate can be manipulated/played with, so anal play can be enjoyed by any man.
Anal Play and Enjoyment
It is fun! (Or can be if you know what you are doing – more about that later.) The anus (and rectum) has many nerves. For men the anus is the gateway to the prostate gland, which when played with can be enjoyed by any man. Women can experience orgasms through anal play while others report a sense of closeness with their partners. Anal play can be exciting, because of the social taboos challenges what society says is normal – a perception of breaking the rules.
The How To’s
As Julie Andrews sings, “Let’s start at the very beginning; A very good place to start.” Knowing what to do can make anal play safe and fun. Here are some tips.
Know Your Body – It’s Time to Explore Understanding the anatomy is important. The anus is a passage about 6 cm long and contains two muscles – the internal and external sphincter. This is what we commonly call the arse-hole. It the stretching of these muscles which often result in the first experience of discomfort. Learning to relax the external sphincter makes for easier penetration. (The internal sphincter is not so easy to learn to relax as it is part of the autonomic nervous system.)
Once through the anus there is the rectum. The rectum is around 20 cm and has an ‘S-shaped’ bend to it. The rectum and anus are able to stretch and therefore can accommodate small or medium size objects inserted.
It is through the rectum, on men, we are able to stimulate our prostate gland. This walnut-sized gland is located below the bladder in front of the rectum. It is possible for men to experience an array of sensations from prostate stimulation.
The final piece of anatomy to know about are the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are found in the lower part of torso and control such actions as bladder and bowel movements, as well as our arousal and orgasm. The anal sphincters also forms part of these muscles.
Spend some time exploring your anus. Sit in a warm bath, or in the shower, and let your fingers explore. Feel the anus and the pressure as you push against it. Use some lubricant and allow yourself to explore feel your rectum and for guys, find your prostate. Understanding how your body works only increase your opportunity for more pleasurable sex.
Communicate Talk to each other. It is important to discuss what you want (and don’t want) when it comes to anal play. As part of the talking about it strategy is to talk about when to stop (THINK: safe word – like your most disliked footy team; When this word is said it is clear you mean stop/no!) Spend some time researching together with your partner or even by yourself to get ideas. There are many blogs about anal sex and each one offers something different.
Getting Ready/Clean n Go People are sometimes concerned about faecal matter during anal play. The anus is generally clear of faeces unless it is time evacuate your bowel. If the bowel has recently been emptied then the rectum is generally clean. There may be a small amount of faecal matter. If cleanliness is a concern use a latex glove or fingerdom, or a condom on a toy. Washing the anus will help clean away immediate faecal matter. You may consider douching if you are really worried – but really it is not necessary. I would suggest having a shower or bath together beforehand as it helps set the mood and also will assist both partners to relax. Relaxing is one of the keys.
First things first Start with a massage and let your partner focus on massaging your buttocks and down to your perineum. This will assist you to relax. Another relaxing technique, for the pelvic floor muscles anyway, is image breathing down through body and out your anus as you breathe out of your mouth.
You’re in control The receptive partner is in control. It is important to remember to allow the receptive partner to set the pace and be the one in control of this sexual encounter. They decide when they are ready and in what position the action will start and how it will start. Many people (women and men) internalise their fears of anal sex and this translates into tensing, muscles, especially the pelvic floor muscles. Tension in the pelvic floor does not make for easy and comfortable entry.
Start Small and Build Up Try starting with a finger or small vibrator (with a flared base) and allow the anal sphincter muscles to get use to action and for you to relax. I would not recommend by starting off by trying to insert a dildo, larger vibrator or penis to begin. As you get use to the feelings and sensations (and you begin to relax more) then try for something a bit bigger – maybe your partner’s penis.
Lubricate There can never be too much lubricant. Lubricant is the key. Not spit, not soap, not an oil-based lubricant. Try using a silicon lubricant or a good quality water-based lubricant which is a necessity if playing with toys. Lubricant will help with entry and motion and ease the discomfort some people feel as they pass through the anus/anal sphincters. Remember though, silicone lubricant is not recommended for use with silicone toys!
Position Makes Perfect Try a position which is comfortable for the receptive partner. The all-fours-taken-from-behind position may be a little daunting initially. A position which provides comfort for the receptive partner and a level of control will help them to relax those pelvic floor muscles. A side-spoon position will provide a comfortable position and not allow deep penetration. It is also easy for the insertive partner to reach around and stimulate their partner’s genitals adding to the pleasure.
Sitting on a toy or penis provides control to the receptive partner as well. They can control the entry. Being comfortable in the squat potion is a pre-requisite possibly. Once you are used to anal play, try the doggie position. It is a good way to achieve orgasm and also gives the receptive partner free access to their genitals too.
The No-No, Never Never go from anal to vaginal play/intercourse. Wash your finger/s, hand, toy/s, penis or mouth. It is possible to transfer anal flora to the vagina as well as germs and this can be problematic.
Techniques for Increased Anal Pleasure Learn to control your pelvic floor muscles for increased pleasure. To exercise these muscles there are two techniques. Pretend to urinate and then stop, you will feel the muscles contract and also feel your genitals move. A similar exercise more focused on the anal sphincter is to contract this muscle like you do when having a bowel movement.
To help relax the anus, I often recommend the use of the “anal breath”. This simple little breath helps relax the anus and makes penetration easier. Take a deep breath in through your nose and as you breathe out of your mouth imagine the breath travelling down through your body and out through your anus. You might have to practice a few times, yet you will feel the anus relaxing.
A Final Word
Discuss, relax and enjoy. I always state to the partner of a woman, that if he wants anal sex with his partner, then he should be prepared to take something as big if not bigger than his penis in his own anus. It is a good way to get a man to think about why their partner may not be sure and also is good way to open lines of communication about anal play and anal sex.
Remember a healthy life includes a healthy sex life.
Dr Christopher Fox is a Psychosexual and Relationship Therapist at Sex Life Therapy in Melbourne. He has clinics in Collingwood and Frankston. He provides eTherapy using secured platforms.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this document should be read as general in nature and is only to provide an overview of the subject matter covered. Please read product packaging carefully and follow all instructions.