For men and women, anal play can carry a considerable amount of taboo and stigma. For men it can be the fear of being labelled ‘gay’ and for women it can be the fear of being seen as slutty.
The anus can be, when played with consciously, an amazing portal to pleasure.
I’ll be sharing some information on why, and also how you can make the step in exploring this often uncharted territory.
Why the anus?
For men in particular the anus can be a source of multiple orgasms. The prostate, a small gland on the anterior wall of the anus about 5 centimetres from the entrance of the anus, is known to bring pleasure when stimulated. Many men experience multiple orgasms without ejaculation from having the prostate stimulated. This is because the hypogastric nerve passes through and as it’s connected to the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) it can be stimulated for pleasure without activating the ejaculation response which is connected to the sympathetic nervous system and the pudendal nerve. Play at the entrance to the anus stimulates the nerves around the rectum and the pelvic nerve which can also be pleasurable when stimulated.
The same pelvic nerve also passes through the rectum for women too which is what makes stimulation pleasurable. When penetrated with a dildo or cock it can indirectly stimulate a woman’s a-spot or g-spot which can support a woman to come to orgasm. Many women say that anal play actually makes their orgasms more intense.
Another factor of why anal play, is because the idea that it is something taboo means that it creates an added level of excitement to play. Something that can be seen as ‘naughty’ and can create a feeling of risk and being a rebel.
Things to be mindful of:
Before we get started with how to go about exploring this new pleasure pathway, there are some things we need to be mindful of first.
First things first, the anus as you know excretes waste from our bodies. This means that there can be bacteria in and around the anus (depending on how well you wipe/wash yourself). So it’s important to be mindful of that. It’s good to have a wash of your anus before play to reduce the risk of contamination. Some people like to take extra caution and use an enema or to douche to give themselves a really good clean.
Even if you have used an enema or douched it’s important to consider that there will still to some extent be bacteria hanging around. For this reason it’s important that anything that makes contact with the anus doesn’t then go near the mouth, eyes, nose, vulva and vagina to prevent passing on infections.
You may prefer to use a glove, and to prevent the risk of disease or infection transfer condoms are recommended. There is a higher risk of disease transference from anal play because there is a higher risk of damage to the delicate tissue of the rectum and therefore the exchange of bodily fluids.
When using condoms it’s important to pay attention to the type of lubrication you are using - more on that further down.
Any toys, objects or body parts used should be cleaned as soon as possible, again to reduce the risk of infection.
If you enjoy licking around the anus a dental dam is recommended to protect against the risk of infection, if you don’t have one of these to hand, a condom trimmed at the top and then along the shaft to then open it up is another option.
When putting items up the bottom, it’s important to make sure you choose the right object as the anus will ‘suck’ it in. If you pay attention to anal sex toys they have at the end a plug which prevents the toy from being pulled in. The anal sphincters, there are two you will ‘pass’ on your way in, are there to keep poo in, so they close very enthusiastically around anything that enters. Which means if the object isn't flared at the end, the anus could close up around the end of the object. Also the muscles to the rectum will ‘pull in’ any remaining fecal matter you have not managed to expel.
If fingers are going in, ensure that your hands are clean and nails are trimmed. Infections can go in either direction so cleanliness to what is going in is just as important. Trimming nails and ensuring there are no rough pieces of skin will reduce the risk of tearing the delicate tissue.
It can happen for some people that when you first begin with anal play that it may feel uncomfortable or in some situations painful. There are two points to be aware of:
Lubrication. It is absolutely essential to have lubrication - and plenty of it. The anus isn’t self-lubricating like the vagina, so to ensure comfort grab the lube and then some more. How to decide between all the different lubes? Avoid oil based ones when using condoms, gloves, dental dams and silicone toys as they can degrade the silicone/latex. For these items use water based or silicone based lubes. If you’re using glass (borosilicate and tempered!!), steel, crystal and body parts you can use any oil, silicone or water based lube.
Anal dearmoring - The pelvic floor wraps around the anus. The pelvic floor is made up of different muscle groups which support and hold our internal organs in our bodies. When we are afraid, stressed or angry we can tense these muscles in a way as protection or in response to our emotions. If we don’t learn to fully release this tension we can create knots, much like you might feel in your back from holding onto tension there, the same can happen to the pelvic floor muscles. De-armoring is a process by which we can release the tension and trigger points and, it can also be used to release any trauma or memories our bodies may still be holding onto. Practising anal de-armouring regularly can create a more relaxed environment in and around the anus and therefore enable us to welcome in any body parts or objects.
How to start
Now that we’ve got all the do’s and don’t’s out of the way - let’s explore anal fun!
Communication! First off, it’s important to be in constant communication with your partner whether you are giving or receiving. Take things really slow, it’s always best if the person being penetrated is in charge of depth and speed. If you are doing the penetrating, pay attention to bodily cues from your partner, do they seem relaxed or holding onto tension. If they are tense, back up and start again or slow down or stop, depending where you are in the act.
It’s good to ensure that your partner who is receiving (or yourself in solo play) is relaxed, so getting aroused first is key to getting the most out of anal play. However you are brought to sexual turn on and arousal whether by yourself or with another, ensure you are warmed up sexually first before you even begin going near the butt.
Gentle massages or licks around the rim can encourage relaxation and a gentle introduction of a body part or object to the area. Giving the receiver time to get used to action taking place there.
If you are completely new to anal play, it’s best to start off by inserting a finger rather than going straight for an anal plug or other toy. The finger has sensory feedback so can feel if the anus is getting tight or the person is maybe experiencing tension so you can slow down or stop. Although, a reminder again - communicate with each other.
When having something inserted into your anus a great trick to avoid discomfort is to ‘bear down’. A little like if you were having a bowel movement - although you don’t need to push so hard. Bearing down opens up the sphincters a little and makes penetration that little bit easier.
Long out breaths activate the parasympathetic (rest and digest) part of our nervous system so if we are feeling more relaxed we are holding less tension in our pelvic floor. As you breathe out, sighing can also help to release any tension you might be holding onto. This will help penetration be more comfortable.
If you’re a man being penetrated, what can feel good is gentle massage of the prostate, remembering that if it isn’t feeling too pleasurable some de-armouring may be necessary.
Once you feel more comfortable and relaxed with a finger, in this session or maybe a future session I invite you to try some toys. Anal plugs are great to be left in the anus and moved around a little during stimulation of other areas of the body. The movement of anal beads in and out of the anus can create pleasurable sensations. There are vibrating and non-vibrating prostate massagers which can be a good way to support de-armouring of the anus and in particular the prostate. Dildos can be good fun too. It’s best to separate dildos from anal play and vaginal play to avoid cross contamination, if you aren’t sure, you can always put a condom over it. When you are feeling move adventurous you can explore using strap-ons and give pegging a go!
Carla Crivaro is a trauma-informed and certified Sex, Love & Relationship Coach, she works with men and women internationally to reach their goals in delicious sex, profound love and authentic relationships. Carla helps men and women understand themselves and each other, sexually and relationally, in and out of the bedroom. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other articles and podcasts which are supportive around this topic are: