Two peaches in the form of a bottom to represent anal sex

A beginner’s guide to anal sex

Are you curious about trying anal sex? You’re certainly not the only one.

Although anal sex may have once been a taboo, over the years research has shown that it has become significantly more popular.

A 2017 survey of over 3,000 sexually active millennials revealed that 36% of women and 15% of men are indulging in anal intercourse.

Even more interestingly, The Journal of Sexual Medicine revealed there has been a 78% growth in the popularity of anal sex searches worldwide.

Despite its growing interest, anal sex does come with a few associated risks, which means it’s important to practice it safely, while also ensuring your first experience is a pain-free and pleasurable one.

If you’re a first-timer and want to have an enjoyable experience, read our comprehensive guide to anal sex.

What is anal sex?

Anal sex involves any sexual activity that involves the anus. It is often identified as the penetration of an erect penis into a person’s anus for sexual pleasure.

However, other sexual activity can also be classed as forms of anal sex, such as:

  • Fingering
  • Using sex toys or an object for anal penetration
  • Oral contact with use of the tongue (also known as anilingus or rimming), 
  • Pegging

Gay couple in bed about to have anal sex

What does anal sex feel like?

The sensation of anal sex can vary, depending on the person. Some may find it initially uncomfortable, while others experience pleasure.

Just like a vagina or penis, the anus is another erogenous zone full of sensitive nerves that respond to sexual stimulation. 

For men in particular, anal sex brings forth stimulation to the prostate gland.

When stimulated, the prostate, which is a small gland located deep inside the groin, becomes sensitive and can provide intense waves of deep orgasms

You also don’t require a prostate to get an orgasm with anal sex, as it can stimulate the A-spot in the vagina too; a pleasurable sensitive spot located at the very back of the vagina near the cervix.

Anal sex is not just pleasurable for the person receiving. If you’re the one giving, due to its size, the anus can provide a sensational tightness around the penis.

How to prepare for anal sex and do it safely

When it comes to anal sex, it is important to be fully prepared and take precautionary measures for a safe and enjoyable experience.

Have a conversation with your partner first

If you’re keen to try anal sex, let your partner know. You might be surprised to discover that they have also been feeling curious about this type of sex too. To maintain trust and ensure there is consent, it’s always better to find out if the feeling is mutual. Discuss and establish your comfort levels, and take baby steps, as pressure will only be off-putting. Knowing what to expect and making sure you are both ready will help you to have an enjoyable experience. 

Explore anus self-masturbation 

Do you masturbate? Traditionally, masturbation was thought to  be performed on the vagina or penis, but you can also gain self-pleasure from your anus too. In general masturbation allows you to understand what your body likes, while allowing you to explore different sensations. Anal self-play such as anal fingering can prepare you for anal sex, helping you to figure out what you like. As you get used to it you can gradually move onto bigger objects like sex toys designed for anal penetration, such as anal beads and butt plugs.


Anal beads and butt plug for anal masturbation

Trim your nails

If you plan on caressing the anal area with your fingers, then you should consider trimming your fingernails. It will help reduce the risk of scratching or cutting the sensitive area, which can result in tearing the delicate tissue in the anus. Also, it avoids spreading bacteria in that area, which can potentially lead to infections. Make sure you thoroughly wash your hands and ensure your fingernails are clean before and after anal sex, especially if you intend to insert your fingers in other areas such as the mouth or vagina.

Make sure your hygiene is up to par

You’ve probably heard all the rumours about the potential mess involved with anal sex. It might be a good idea to clean that area beforehand for hygiene purposes. Taking a simple shower will do, but if you’re looking to take extra precautions you might want a deeper clean to rid your rectum of faeces. You can always try anal douching, but also a practice called enema. Enema involves cleaning the intestine, using suitable materials. It involves inserting liquid or gas in the rectum to empty the bowels. It’s also important to remember that it is natural for a little bit of excretion to get in the equation. The more comfortable you get with the idea, the less shocked you’ll be if it happens.  


Man taking a shower in preparation for anal sex

Use lubrication

Unlike a vagina, the anus does not naturally produce its own lubricant for sex, which means the area is more tense. This makes the anal area more prone to tearing, bleeding, and pain during sex. For comfort and pleasure, you’ll need to apply plenty of lubricant throughout the experience. We recommend using water-based lubricant to avoid the condom from breaking. Please note that the use of alternatives such as numbing creams and oils can cause health problems and should be avoided. You might want to keep a towel, wash cloth, or wipes on hand to clean up any excess lube.

Use protection

When it comes to any type of sex, it’s important to use protection. However, anal sex is known to increase the risk of spreading and transmitting STIs. Therefore, using a condom or dental dam can reduce that risk. Remember, if you want to engage in oral or vaginal intercourse after anal, you must change the condom to avoid any bacteria from the anus transmitting to the these area. Otherwise, make sure you wash the penis or sex toy before inserting into the vagina or mouth.


Heterosexual couple about to use protection for anal sex


Relaxing before you have anal sex can help make insertion easier. The internal sphincter of the anus is controlled by the nervous system. So, if you’re relaxed, that muscle will be too, making it easier for penetration. If you are nervous or tense, the sphincter will contract, making it more difficult. Having a warm bath before anal sex can also help relax the muscles.

Start with some anal foreplay 

If you want a pleasurable experience, it’s better to get warmed up with some foreplay before jumping into anal sex. As mentioned previously, it allows the anal sphincter to relax and be more ready for penetration. Get your partner to try using their finger by starting slowly with touching and caressing the area beforehand to get used to it. After they can start penetrating with their penis or strap-on dildo slowly and gently and pull out frequently to tease the area. When your partner is ready, penetrate a little further. Keep this momentum going until you’re fully in. 

Get into position

Getting into an appropriate position is very important in anal sex to make sure you’re comfortable. The best positions for anal sex can be found down below.

Best positions for anal sex

The best position is one in which the person being penetrated feels most comfortable. Doggy position, for example, may not be the most comfortable.

Some suggestions are:

  • Spooning: This involves both partners laying on their side with the penetrating partner behind the other
  • Deck Chair: The penetrator is in a sitting position while leaning back, supporting themselves with their hands. The receiver lays on their back in the opposite direction, in between the legs of the penetrating partner and with their legs spread resting on top of the penetrator’s shoulders
  • Magic Mountains: Similar to doggy-style, the receiver lies on their front face down and props themselves up on their elbows with one leg slightly bent. The giver kneels behind, resembling a mountain, and penetrates from behind
  • Hero: The receiving partner lays on their back with their knees up while the penetrating partner enters the anus on their knees

In practice, each person tends to develop preferences for types of positions for anal sex.


Heterosexual couple in spooning position for anal sex

How to have anal sex without pain

Many people ask: Does anal sex hurt? Like any other sexual activity, it might hurt if not done correctly. The muscles in the anus need to be relaxed and highly lubricated to be less painful. 

In addition to being relaxed, using lots of lube and taking things slow, pain-free anal sex can be as simple as talking to your partner and understanding what may or may not please you. 

Keeping the partner informed during the act about pressure, speed and different ways of penetration will also make a difference when it comes to preventing any pain and leaving space only for excitement, pleasure and orgasms.

Explore and get to know each other’s bodies well and always listen to your partner and understand how they feel. If it’s too painful, then do not continue and be prepared to stop at any time.

But remember, anal sex can take some time to get used to. So if you are comfortable with having anal sex, you can keep doing it until you get used to it.

Is anal sex safe?

With the appropriate precautions mentioned above, anal sex is mostly safe. 

However, there are potential risks of having anal sex that are not present in vaginal or oral sex. Examples include:

  • Increased risk of bacterial infection for the giving and receiving partner
  • Increased risk of STIs
  • Can worsen hemorrhoids 
  • A tear in the tissue of the anus (anal fissure)
  • Weakening of the anal sphincter 

If you want to avoid ANY risks of anal sex then it’s best not to try it at all. However, as mentioned above, there are things you can do to ensure optimum safety during anal sex and reduce your risks.


Disclaimer: Due to the current social-distancing measures, should you decide to participate in any sexual activity of any kind it should be with a person who you have been self-isolating or social distancing with. All parties involved should also have adhered to Government social-distancing guidelines. 

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