You've explored anal play for the first time, you've played with a few toys, and now you're ready to put that P in the A. Here's your guide to everything you need to know to try anal for the first time. Illustration by Jim Cooke.
What's All the Fuss About?
Anal sex is pretty polarising. A lot of people love it, and a lot of people don't even understand the temptation to try it. No one is going to force you to try anal, but there are a few compelling reasons to give it a go:
- It feels good. There are plenty of nerve endings in and around your anus that are happy to make anal exploration worth your while. Some people can even have orgasms from anal play alone.
- It feels naughty. The still-taboo nature of anal sex undeniably contributes to the extra thrill of the experience.
- It's something new to explore with your partner. Getting a little bored with your usual routine? Anal will definitely shake things up.
- You can subvert gender roles. Lesbian and straight couples can use a strap-on during anal to really play around with their typical roles in the bedroom.
If your interest isn't slightly piqued by this point, I can't help you. But if you're intrigued, read on!
Keep It Safe and Clean
Just like with any other type of sex, you have to take precautions to keep yourself safe during anal. You can transmit STIs through anal sex. In fact, transmission rates are higher for anal sex than for most other sexual activities, since anal tissues are sensitive and susceptible to microtears. Use a condom unless you're already fluid-bonded with your partner. The good news is that pregnancy is clearly not a concern.
The hygiene factor is one of the biggest reasons people tend to shy away from anal sex. A lot of guys are worried about poo-dick (yes, that's the official term for it). We won't lie to you; your penis is probably going to come into contact with traces of faecal matter. But the key word here is traces. Poop slides through the rectum and anus when you're on the toilet, but it doesn't hang out there the rest of the day. Here are some steps you can take to keep things as clean as possible:
- Empty your bowels.
- Take a shower after your bowel movement. Clean the outside of your arsehole with a bit of soap and water.
- Avoid anal if you have an upset stomach or if you've had some messy BMs recently.
- If you're really concerned about cleanliness, you can always anally douche beforehand to flush out your rectum.
- Keep tissues within arm's reach for easy clean-up. You can put a towel under you if you're particularly nervous about messiness, but it's not necessary.
- If you don't want to risk even the chance of residue, you can use a condom.
In the end, you're probably way more paranoid about the cleanliness factor than necessary. Anal sex is actually pretty clean, and it's likely that you won't notice anything when the deed is done and you're pulling out of anal town.
If you're the pitcher in this scenario, it's usually best to let the catcher take the lead with hygiene. They're likely just as concerned about cleanliness as you are, and you don't want to shame them by dictating how they should take care of their body.
Most anal virgins are bound to be a little nervous at first, so give yourself plenty of time to get aroused. Do the usual things you do when you're naked together. If you're the receiving partner, an orgasm beforehand will help your muscles relax.
Lube is non-negotiable for anal sex. Your rectum is very tight and doesn't create lubrication on it's own, like a vagina does, so you need lube to help things slide in properly. Lube will also prevent painful tugging and tearing of the skin. Try a silicone lube like Pjur Original Bodyglide or a water based lube like Wicked Jelle. Put lube directly on the arsehole itself, and onto the penis or condom. Use a lot. Even if it seems like a laughable amount, it's necessary. Trust us.
When it comes to penetration itself, it's usually best to let the receiving partner be in control, at least initially. They're the ones at risk of experiencing pain. Dictating the pace and depth of penetration will minimise pain and ease any lingering nerves. One of the best positions for first-time anal is doggystyle. It allows the catcher to be in control of the movement, and go as slowly as possible. Plus, doggystyle helps open up that whole area back there. Side-by-side spooning (where you're facing the same direction) is also a good beginner position, though the pitcher will have slightly more control than the catcher.
When you're getting started, go as slow as possible. Pretend you're actually in slow motion, and try moving at half-speed. The receiver should focus on keeping their muscles relaxed. You may feel yourself instinctively tensing up, so keep taking deep breaths and trying to release that tension. You're putting a big thing into a small hole, so expect that there will be some discomfort (the amount will vary from person to person). Some people will experience a "hurts-so-good" type of sensation, but others might feel "bad pain" that feels sharp or stinging. If you're unsure what kind of pain it is, err on the side of caution and ask your partner to stop and give you a moment to relax. Don't ever push yourself to keep going if it doesn't feel right. Keep working your way down the shaft of the penis slowly. Don't start thrusting in and out until you've achieved complete penetration, and the receiver is comfortable with moving forward.
Once you're both feeling at ease, you can pick up the pace and start thrusting more. You want to avoid pulling all the way out and pushing back in (this can lead to pain), so try to limit thrusts to a small range of motion. Make sure to keep communicating about what feels good and what doesn't.
Now's also the opportunity to add more stimulation to other areas of your body. If you're a lady catcher, get some extra clitoral stimulation going at the same time with a vibrator, your hand or your partner's hand. Doggystyle and side-by-side are easy positions to do this. If you're a dude catcher, you can jack yourself off or have your partner jack you off.
What to Do Afterwards
When you're both done with your anal fun, make sure that the giver pulls out as slowly as possible. Having something that girthy exiting your anus can feel a little strange, but slowing it down will make it feel much better. Don't be concerned if the anus doesn't immediately return to it's usual balloon-knot state. It's just taken a bit of a beating, and needs some time to close back up.
Wipe yourself off with tissues, then take a trip to the bathroom to clean up more thoroughly. Even if the pitcher used a condom, it's still a good idea to wash off with soap and water. Soap will also help take care of the lube around the catcher's anus. Make sure not to have any other sexual contact before cleaning up. In particular, putting a penis that has just been in an anus into a vagina is a one-way ticket to a vaginal infection.
Anal sex leaves one lingering present for the receiver: lube poops. Your next bowel movement is probably going to feel like it's sliding right out of your butt. If your partner ejaculated into your anus, it will feel even slipperier (and may look a little strange too). Farts can also feel different travelling down your lubed-up butthole. Don't fret if you find a tiny bit of blood in your stool; anal tissues are susceptible to small tears. But if you have a lot of blood, or ongoing pain, give your doctor a call.
Anal sex is unfortunately still saddled with a bad rap, but it can be immensely pleasurable for giver and receiver alike, and can be a fun new journey to embark on together. Give butt love a chance!
This is the fifth in a multi-part series from Lifehacker about anal play. You can see the other posts in the series as they come out here.