If you're curious about butt stuff—and how to prepare for anal sex properly—you're far from the only one.
“Anyone who is curious about it can enjoy anal play,” says US-based sex educator and curator of the @FeministSexEd Instagram community, Cassandra Corrado. “The anus is packed full of nerve endings, especially around the anal opening and the perineum. That's true for people of all genders and genital configurations." These nerve endings can be stimulated via penetration from a penis or the best sex toys, your mouth or a simple digit (check out our "how to finger" guide before you get handsy).
"For people who have prostates, internal stimulation can feel intensely pleasurable. And even if you don't have a prostate, internal anal play can feel good because the deep pressure can indirectly stimulate the G-zone and clitoral complex," Corrado continues. "There can also be a psychological component to anal play—some people may feel that they're being subversive, and that might get them off.”
As Corrado mentions, anal sex is perhaps one of the most egalitarian—and fun—sexual acts because anyone can enjoy it. But translating the desire for butt play into actually doing butt play can be intimidating. Unlike giving head or penetrative sex, there is often a bit more prep needed to get ready for anal sex and, usually, anal is not covered in high school sex ed class.
But once you learn the steps to properly prepare, you’ll build the confidence and comfort you need to have great, mess-free sex.
How to prepare for anal sex:
What is Douching?
Many people prefer to douche before having anal sex. Anal douching, Dr. Evan Gouldstein of Bespoke Surgical explains, “is the act of cleansing the rectum and anal canal, most traditionally done with liquid expelled from a douche bulb. It’s most commonly done to get the rectum and anal cavity ready for bottoming or anal receptive sex.” That means, if you plan to receive during anal sex, you should consider douching.
However, unlike using lube, douching is not an absolute necessity for anal sex, says Cassandra Corrado. Talk with your partner about your needs, desires and comfort levels before having sex. And get the facts— while it’s possible to have some stool residue left in the rectum, it’s rare to release the bowels during sex.
When picking out a douching kit, you should know not all are created equally! Try to find a douching kit made specifically for anal sex, like the Future Method Disposable Rectal Wash.
Some douching kits are made with cleansing solutions that can irritate or damage the lining of the rectum, which can leave you more susceptible to acquiring STIs. Corrado recommends immediately dumping out the solution that comes with douching kits. “It's stronger than you need and can do harm in the long-term. Fill up the bulb with some warm (not hot, just warm) water and then follow the instructions as given,” says Corrado.
How to douche
Once you have your tools, go to the bathroom. You can either stand in the shower or over the toilet. To relax up the anal cavity, lube up your finger and gently loosen up your butt. Take your time relaxing—you don’t have to douche right before anal sex; you can get yourself ready a little earlier in the day to give yourself plenty of time.
Lubricate the nozzle of your applicator. Don’t skip this part! It’s very important to go slow and take all steps possible to avoid tearing or traumatizing the rectum.
When you’re ready, insert the nozzle and squeeze the liquid. Pull out the nozzle and try to hold in the liquid and move around a bit. If you can’t hold the liquid, release it while sitting on the toilet or standing in the shower.
Wait about an hour before having sex to ensure all the liquid is fully expelled. And that’s it. You’ve successfully douched!
Anal Sex Safety Tips
You should be mindful of a few other safety precautions when it comes to prepping for anal sex:
1. Talk to your partner about using protection
"If you're planning on using a barrier method, I recommend sticking to water-based, silicone, or hybrid lubricants," says Corrado. "Many people like to use oil-based lubricants for anal play, but they're not compatible with the most common condom materials. Silicone-based lubricants will give you the slippery, thin, long-lasting feel of oil-based lubes, while water-based and hybrid lubricants will give you a little bit of extra cushion.”
2. Go slow and communicate
“Let the receiver be in control here, because they'll be the one who knows what they can and can't handle. Patience and intentionality will go a long way toward pleasure here, so luxuriate in the journey,” says Corrado.
3. Listen to your body
Finally, the most important aspect of anal sex— from talking about it, prepping for it, and doing it— is to listen to your body and not be ashamed of its needs. If something is painful, stop. If you need a break, take it. If you need to use the bathroom, excuse yourself. Messes can happen during anal sex, but it’s nothing to be embarrassed or anxious about. The more comfortable you are advocating for your body’s needs, and the more you and your partner talk about consent and risk management, the more you both can relax, let things roll and enjoy the full spectrum of sex, from silly to hot to absolutely shameless.
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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