QJ Sex: The beginner's guide to anal sex

Whether it’s with a partner or flying solo, anal sex is for anyone who wants to try it.

Anal play can include any type of stimulation of the anus and isn’t limited to anal penetration.

The most important things to keep in mind about trying anal sex are to start slow, lubricate, relax and communicate. When you’re first exploring anal play, one way to ease your way in is to gradually increase the size of objects you’re using to stimulate the anus or rectum.

For example, start with a finger (short nails recommended) and then, once you’re comfortable, transition to two fingers or a smaller toy, like a butt plug.

Make sure any toy you use has a flared base, as toys can get sucked up into the rectum. If that does happen, don’t try and remove it yourself. Go to the emergency room instead.

Incremental change may help make anal play with a dildo or a penis more comfortable.

Working your way up also allows you to practice two skills fundamental to enjoyable anal play with a partner: relaxation and communication.

Taking deep breaths and relaxing into the sensations involved in anal play can make it more enjoyable, and help your body acclimatize.

The tightness of the anal sphincter can mean that penetration can be painful if done too quickly or with objects/body parts that are too large to start with. Give and receive feedback throughout the process to make sure everyone involved is having a good time.

Lubrication is key to avoiding discomfort during anal play. The anus and rectum don’t self­lubricate like a vagina or mouth, meaning penetration of toys or body parts can be met with uncomfortable friction.

Silicone or thicker water­based lubricants are condom safe and often recommended for anal play. Silicone lubricants tend to last longer and therefore don’t need to be reapplied as often, but they can’t be used with silicone toys.

Another concern some people have is pooping during anal sex.

An important thing to remember is that the rectum and anus are just passageways — they generally don’t store faeces for long periods, though the rectum can contain residual fecal matter.

One way to avoid contact with feces is to use condoms and other barrier methods, like gloves and dental dams.

In order to avoid bacterial transmission, it’s recommended that toys or body parts are not inserted into the mouth or vagina after contact with the anus or rectum.

You can either use anal play as a finale, or use different condoms for different activities — i.e. use one condom for anal penetration, remove it and use a different condom for vaginal penetration. Using a condom with toys is a great way to keep them clean during any play.

External hygiene can be managed by washing with soap and water, or using baby wipes to clean the outside of the anus.

Internal hygiene can be a bit more complex. One way that some people prep for anal sex is the use of enemas or douching — the injection and expulsion of fluid into and out of the rectum.

There are some concerns with enemas, however. Anything but water can cause irritation to your rectum. Water that’s too hot can burn the lining of your rectum and flooding the rectum with water can dehydrate the colon. All of these factors also increase your susceptibility to STIs.

One of the best ways to alleviate stress or anxiety surrounding hygiene and anal play is to put down a towel. Showering later can be a good idea and a fun time, as well. If you are engaging with a partner, talk to them about how you’re feeling.

Most importantly, listen to your body. If you enjoy something, go with it. If it doesn’t feel right, try switching up the positions or going with something you know feels good. Maybe a finger is great, while a butt plug it too much. It’s okay if anal play just isn’t for you, too.

If you ever experience pain or bleeding after anal intercourse, make sure to seek medical attention.


All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.