Ah, anal sex: another one of those taboo subjects that are often hard to bring up to partners or even your MD if you have concerns. From how to actually do it without hurting your partner to wondering if you can have too much anal sex, Dr. Steve McGough takes us through the ins and outs of anal in this two-part breakdown of everything you need to know about anal sex with your partner.
Which positions work best when it comes to anal sex?
Opinions vary about this, but the main thing to consider is making sure the partner giving goes slowly and responds to what the receiving partner says. Many have said the “lap dancer” or “cowgirl” position is the best way to start out because the partner receiving can control how quickly their partner penetrates them, and can also control the movements. Others enjoy their partner entering them from a spooning position, as well as with them laying on their stomach and him laying on top — kind of like a missionary position with the receiving partner facing down. While “doggy style” is a very popular position for vaginal intercourse, it can lead to deep thrusting that many have said is uncomfortable for anal sex.
Should you plan ahead for anal sex?
For many reasons I’ll mention below, anal sex should be done with a condom, lubricant, and basic understanding of things. I’ve heard couples talk about how they decided to try it on the spur of the moment, but they didn’t have lubrication, a condom or one partner didn’t knowing what to do, and it lead to a bad experience. Anal sex isn’t something that “just happens” unless you know the basics. I’d suggest you think about — and talk about — why you want to try anal sex, and also why your partner does. Do you want to try it because you’re curious about how it feels or is your partner pressuring you? Or have you read a lot about it recently and it seems like the thing to do? Some people absolutely love anal sex, others don’t. As long as you follow common sense practices it can be another part of your evolving sexual experience. The first thing to be comfortable with is your own thoughts about it. For instance, some are very concerned about fecal matter. There is actually little fecal matter in the lower rectum or anal area, so this is usually not an issue (but not always), so this isn’t as big of a deal as most people think. Some use an enema before anal sex, but this shouldn’t be done often though and it’s better to use warm water. The reason is that frequent enemas can remove the protective mucus normally present and make the rectum more susceptible to injury or infection. Another concern is getting the sheets, bed, etc., dirty. The actual area to consider more is usually the lubricant because you’ll need to use a lot, and frequently. So rather than worry, just put down a towel or two. Also know that if your partner wants to do this, they are fully aware of the implications and there is nothing you need to be embarrassed about. Getting any concerns out of your head will help you relax, which means you’ll be able to enjoy the experience more. Second, it’s best to work up to penetration by your partner’s penis. If you can, get a very small vibrator or butt plug or finger (it’s a good idea for your partner to wear a rubber glove though). Start by trying these techniques.
Ease into Anal Sex with these Techniques
With a (gloved) finger, make stroking motions to gently cause goose bumps on the thighs and buttocks, and then do similar almost tickling motions, stroking the anus. Slowly circle the anus with your finger. Then apply lube to the finger and circle more, gradually working towards the center of the anus and gently pushing in. If you’re on the receiving end, always let your partner know if anything hurts, and if it does — stop. Assuming it feels good, continue gently pushing in until the finger is in the anus. Then experiment with gently and slowly pushing it in farther and pulling it almost all the way out. While your partner’s finger is inside, try pushing out like you are going to have a bowel movement. This actually relaxes the anal sphincter muscles. While you are pushing out have them move their finger in and out more (gently). Notice how this will (should likely) feel like your anus is more relaxed and open. Then tighten your sphincter around your partner’s finger and notice how much tighter it is. Repeat this several times, especially if it feels good. Then use a slightly larger finger or (if you have one) a vibrator or butt plug and practice what it feels like when you push out vs. pulling tight. If you can, stimulate your clitoris to orgasm while your partner is gently moving the plug slightly in and out. Many find their anus can relax more after orgasm, and the orgasm is more intense when they have anal stimulation. You can also experiment with vibrators that have pronounced (but smooth) ridges. Some are so “bumpy” they look almost like a series of balls that are attached to be a continuous rod. Many enjoy the sensation of this gently sliding in and out of their anus. Once you have practiced and feel like you can relax your anus sufficiently, try one of the positions mentioned above. First, if you can, your partner or you should stimulate yourself almost to orgasm before your partner enters you. When they do enter, as mentioned, use a lot of lubrication and have them move very slowly following your guidance. Most women feel the most pleasurable stimulation right at their anus. Deeper in the rectum they just feel pressure. Many women don’t like very deep thrusting (while some do). Some describe it as a cramping feeling that isn’t pleasant. One thing women need to get used to is the feeling like they are going to have to go to the bathroom or they are going to the bathroom when their partner is inside them. Many spontaneously want to tighten their anus sphincters because they are at first afraid they are going to poop on their partner. This tightening can make things more painful. If they can, they should just relax and try to push out instead of tightening.
Things to Remember about Anal Sex
Not all women enjoy anal sex. If you find anal sex painful in any way or you don’t like it for whatever reason stop. As well, some women prefer to just have external anal stimulation from a finger or vibrator, instead of penetration — or just with that, not the partner’s penis. If that’s what you enjoy that’s fine, as well. There’s no rule that says you have to be penetrated because you like external stimulation.
Can Women Orgasm from Anal Sex?
I have never spoken with a woman personally who said she achieved orgasm from anal sex alone, although the media has had accounts of this. Plus, each woman is unique. So, it does seem to happen for some, but I suggest just seeing what happens for yourself and not worry about it. Sexual exploration and experience should be treated as an amazing journey — not a checklist of experiences. How can you orgasm from anal sex? Stimulating the anus or surface of the anus can send a contraction all the way to the clitoris (called the bulbocavernosus reflex). This may have a role in achieving orgasm, but I don’t know of any studies on this. While some women don’t like extremely deep penetration, it’s possible that for some women vigorous motions might (and again I say might) stimulate other internal structures in the woman’s body that could be erotically stimulating — possibly stimulating the sacral, pelvic, hypogastric or vagus nerve. But I know of no studies on this either, and that is speculation. Another factor could be that women who enjoy the sensation and find it erotically exciting may be mentally primed to achieve orgasm very easily. Orgasm is actually separate components that work in concert. It could be that the thought of it combined with the sensation is so arousing the woman achieves orgasm from that alone. But again this is speculation.
Are there sensitive areas in the anus that can lead to orgasm or is clitoral stimulation still required?
The surface of the anus is generally the most erotically stimulating area. Some women enjoy the sensation of the deeper penetration — but many also find it uncomfortable. I can’t answer this question completely because (1) I don’t know of any research on this and (2) every woman is unique. But again, while there may well be women out there who can achieve orgasm easily from anal stimulation, it isn’t common enough that I’ve encountered it. I’d welcome other’s input on this, though. If you want to explore achieving orgasm from anal stimulation alone, I’d suggest spending time experimenting with external stimulation with fingers, vibrators, feathers and very soft brushes (a totally different stimulation), as well as different types of penetration with fingers and vibrators — and then anal sex. Why not explore what you can feel?
Dr. Steve McGough, D.H.S is the Director of R&D, CTO hi® Master Level instructor and Director of R&D at Women and Couples Wellness, LLC, Associate Professor of Clinical Sexology, Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. Steve is regularly interviewed by outlets such as Prevention, Redbook, CNBC, MSN, Women’s Health, Medical Daily, Glamour, Ask Men, etc. Steve McGough discovered the technology behind “hi” when trying to help Wendy (his wife) recover from a tragedy.