While many of us are often drawn to butt play for its taboo-turned-thrilling nature, it's the benefits of anal sex that keep us coming back—especially the incredible pleasure the act can bring, and the fact that it can totally reset your sex life.
“The sensations of anal sex are mindblowing,” says Dr. Sakshi Tickoo, a Mumbai-based registered sexuality counselor. “For penis owners, it is like recreating a blow job, but with an element of uncertainty, as the internal anal muscles contract and relax on their own—which is quite the plot twist.
"For vulva owners, it creates a sense of thickness and fullness, which in turn stimulates the other clitoral structures and creates a dual stimulation by just stimulating one organ," she adds.
So, we know butt play is fun—but are there other physical, and maybe even emotional, benefits to having anal sex too? Whether you've tried it before or are exploring the idea for the very first time, there are many reasons to make anal sex your private playtime choice. All you need is some great lube, our guide on how to prepare for anal sex, some of the best sex toys, a happy and enthusiastic partner, and you're good to go!
What are the benefits of anal sex?
1. A multitude of physical health benefits
While it may feel different for people who are used to penis-in-vagina penetration, anal sex can bring with it all of the same brilliant, mood-boosting benefits of vaginal or oral sex. “Just like any other sexual activity, anal sex improves libido (conveniently), enhances mood, and improves sleep quality,” says Dr. Tickoo.
There are many other physical well-being benefits too, such as a lower risk of heart disease, decreased headaches and menstrual cramps, and a boosted immune system—many of which are the same for regular penetrative sex.
Anal sex can also be especially helpful for those with prostatitis, painful ejaculation and erectile dysfunction, as it stimulates the prostate.
As you can see, anal sex brings all of the juicy benefits of regular sex, as well as a few more health benefits—so there's no need to avoid it if you're worried you won't feel as good afterward!
2. More intense orgasms
“Given the anatomy of the butt,” explains Dr. Tickoo, “anal sex also has the potential to induce intense orgasms—[which is also related to] stress reduction, improving blood circulation, reducing inflammation, boosting immunity, lowering anxiety, and improving sleep quality.”
In fact, for many people, orgasm from anal (sometimes helped with the best finger vibrators) is distinct from orgasms garnered from other kinds of sex. Just like other genital areas, the anus is full of sensitive and powerful nerve endings that can be stimulated for pleasure. Dr. Tickoo explains that anal sex is distinctive “because of the two anal sphincter muscles, which help in creating a feeling of tightness and/or fullness upon penetration."
"Since all the other structures such as the vagina, clitoral bulbs, and the penis anatomically lie in closer proximity to the anus, they aid in heightening the stimulation upon penetration," Tickoo says.
If you think about the genitals and anus as part of the same pleasure network, then butt play is the bridge between both internal and external pleasure, with the pudendal nerve linking them all together. The pudendal nerve stimulates the internal and external sphincter and indirectly activates the clit or penis—creating intense, dual stimulation via rimming, fingering or penetration.
And this doesn't just apply to those with vulvas! “For some men and prostate owners, prostate orgasms are more intense compared to penile orgasms, while others may experience wave-like contractions that last longer with no particular peaks." Dr. Tickoo told us.
Multiple orgasms in a row are also possible with anal sex, Dr. Tickoo explains. "Another great thing about anal sex is that it allows for a shorter recovery period, allowing men and prostate owners to have multiple orgasms! For vulva owners, blended stimulation through anal sex helps in improving the intensity of the orgasm."
But just because anal orgasms are strong, it doesn’t mean you can just jump in without care, or preparing properly. Dr. Tickoo recommends starting small and going slow. “Take deep breaths (if you are the receiver) and start slow by stimulating the anus externally using toys, fingers, tongue, lips, breathwork, etc. and move your way up.”
"And, make sure to use plenty of lubricant—unlike the vagina, the anus is not self-lubricating, and is prone to tears and pain. And don’t even think about using spit as a lube replacement!"
3. A greater emotional connection
Perhaps one of the most important benefits of anal sex is the deep sense of intimacy, patience, and trust it can bring you and your partner, mostly because of how intimate the very act requires you to be.
“People who have tried [anal sex] and loved the sensations also know the amount of love, patience, intimacy and vulnerability this act requires, which further improves their partnered connection and emotional intimacy,” says Dr. Tickoo.
Anal sex requires a lot of work— both emotionally and physically. If you’re trying anal for the first time, it’s a great opportunity to have important, intimate conversations with yourself or your partner. How will we have safe anal sex? How will we communicate if there’s pain or discomfort? What is our safe word? What is our shared goal for this experience? How will we embrace sexual aftercare, and take care of one another before, during, and after sex?
Having conversations like this only improves your emotional intimacy, meaning anal sex is a great way to be more vulnerable with your partner.
And if you're wondering physically how to take care of yourself after anal sex, particularly if it is a new experience for you, many people report that having a bath after the experience can be soothing, especially if you experience some tenderness down there. Epsom salts can also help to relieve any irritation—though if you're experiencing a lot of pain after anal sex, it's important to see a sexual health practitioner, or your local doctor, just to check that everything is okay.
4. Very small risk of pregnancy
If you're a woman having sex with a man, trying out butt play in the bedroom almost entirely eliminates the possibility of falling pregnant—unless of course, you're enjoying both vaginal penetration, as well as anal (though don't do this without thoroughly cleaning the penis before moving from onn to the other!)
This makes anal a seriously preferable option for some couples—however, it's important to note that if any semen makes its way into the vagina during anal sex, there is still the possibility of a pregnancy, so it's wise to continue taking precautions, such as birth control or condoms if you are worried.
And of course, it's vital to remember that just because pregnancy is (pretty much) off the cards with anal sex, the risk of contracting an STI is still very real. Sexually transmitted diseases are spread through any sexual contact, so it's important to get tested, wear a condom and ensure total honesty between you and any sexual partners.
5. The fun of experimentation
There are plenty of physical and emotional benefits of anal sex, but perhaps the best one of them all is the fun of trying out something new, exciting and pleasurable.
At any age, it's important to continue exploring your sexuality, and what you might enjoy outside of your normal routine. Feeling free to express yourself sexually in a relationship—or with any new partners—is key, and anal sex is one way in which you can explore your body and the different ways you might experience pleasure, especially if you've never done so before.
So be safe, and most importantly, enjoy!
Sara Youngblood Gregory is a lesbian writer and poet. She covers sex, kink, disability, culture, and wellness. Sara serves on the board of the lesbian literary and arts journal, Sinister Wisdom. Her work has been featured in Vice, Teen Vogue, HuffPost, Bustle, DAME, Cosmo, Jezebel, and many others. You may also know Sara as sinister.spinster from Instagram, where they talk about kink and sex ed.
Sara’s debut nonfiction work, THE POLYAMORY WORKBOOK, about navigating ethical nonmonogamy, is forthcoming on November 8th, 2022.
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