How to Prepare for Anal Sex, According to Experts
While butt stuff once seemed to be reserved for the sexually adventurous (or for couples without vaginas), it's become a sex act that's now considered pretty mainstream.
This morning, in the span of one hour, Truffle Butter played at my fave coffee shop (if you don't know what that has to do with anal sex, two words: Urban Dictionary), an email about the launch of a new butt plug popped into my inbox, and my pal texted to ask which position — missionary or doggy — was a better position for first-time anal sex.
Yet, anal sex is still shrouded in mystery. And, to be fair, butt sex can be kind of intimidating — so if you're wondering how to prepare for anal sex, it's understandable. Here, sexperts break down anal sex facts vs. fiction to deliver — drum roll please — a first-time anal sex how-to guide. To replace some of that confusion with clarity, read on for tips and tricks on how to prepare for anal sex that will make it as pleasurable, safe, clean, and orgasmic as possible.
How to Prepare for Anal Sex
1. Talk about it with your partner.
Yes, step one for how to prepare for anal sex is really just talking about it. Sorry, folks, but you can't introduce the tush without some chit-chat. For one, if you and your boo can't talk about butt sex, you're probably not ready to do butt sex. Second, it will help make the actual act of butt sex more comfortable and enjoyable for you both.
Anal sex can mean a lot of things. So, first, you're going to want to decide what exactly you're going to try, says Amy Boyajian, co-founder and CEO of Wild Flower, an online sexual wellness store. "Is penetration happening? Are toys going to be involved? Are there some things you don't want to do? Are there other things you really want to try? What can be added — butt plugs, lube, condoms — to make your experience more comfortable?" (See: How to Set Boundaries In the Bedroom That'll Vastly Improve Your Sex Life)
BTW, like all sex, anal sex is better when accompanied with foreplay. So, next, discuss what gets you both turned on, suggests Boyajian.
Now, I know what you're wondering: Does anal sex really feel good? Or is it only pleasurable for some people? Well, here's an anal sex fact for you: Butt sex can be pleasurable for anyone. "The skin and tissue in and around the anus are different from the vulva," says certified sex therapist Kat Van Kirk, Ph.D. But there tons of nerve endings which, when stimulated, can help you (and/or your partner) have an anal orgasm, she says.
For those with a prostate (usually assigned male at birth), a anal orgasm will occur by stimulating the prostate through the anus, she says. As for vagina-havers (typically female at birth)? An anal O will occur through stimulation of the A-spot or G-spot, "an analogous area [that's] very similar tissue as the prostate, says Van Kirk. (News to you? You're going to want to read up on these vaginal erogenous zones, trust.)
2. Experiment with anal sex on your own.
One of the most important things you can do to prepare for anal sex with a partner is having solo anal sex, aka anal masturbation. "Before you even consider putting something in someone else's butt, be sure to explore your own butt," says Jessica O'Reilly, Ph.D., sexologist and host of the podcast Sex With Dr. Jess. "If you're not comfortable putting a finger in your own butt or exploring with a toy, you are not prepared to penetrate another person's butt, and vice-versa."
Making your rear part of your masturbation session(s) will not only boost your confidence and comfort with anal play, but it'll also help you learn your peach from a new ~dimension~. One good approach: Start with your go-to solo-sex moves. Then, lube up a fingertip and experiment with touch. "The chemical shifts that take place during arousal can help these muscles relax so that you can slide a finger inside," says O'Reilly. (Related: How to Explore Anal Masturbation)
If you've never touched an anus before, you might be wondering how deep the anus is and what it feels like. Here's what to expect: "You'll feel two muscles contract around your finger: the external sphincter which you can contract and release at will, and the internal sphincter, which is an involuntary muscle, meaning it's controlled by the autonomic nervous system," says O'Reilly.
"Then, practice squeezing the external sphincter around your finger and allow it to release (like you're pushing something out of your butt)," she says. When you're comfortable, you can slide the finger a little farther to feel the internal sphincter. Then, practice breathing slowly; you should feel it release slightly. (While you're at it, try these other masturbation tips for a mind-blowing solo session.)
3. Clean up — here's how.
This is probably one of the first things you wondered about how to prepare for anal sex. FYI, poop is "stored" in the upper bowels — not the anal canal — meaning, it's far enough inside you that no penis or dildo is big enough to reach it. That said, the fear of poop droplets and fecal residue joining in on the butt sex fun are a bit unfounded. "If you're having regular and routine bowel movements, you should be more than in the clear," says Evan Goldstein, M.D., CEO and founder of Bespoke Surgical, which specializes in helping people of all sexualities with anal play.
Still, "if you can, go to the bathroom 30 to 60 minutes before anal play, do so," says Alicia Sinclair, a certified sex educator and CEO of b-Vibe, an anal play product company. And a good shower pre-butt sex also never hurts. "Washing off before anal sex can help make you feel clean and therefore more comfortable and sexy," she says.
But if there's no time to shower, how do you prepare for anal sex? An unscented baby wipe can do wonders before, she says. Just don't use this as a time to introduce new or different products or fragrances to your genital or anal area, which could lead to irritation. (Related: Here Are Some Reasons Your Butt Might Be Itchy)
Ultimately, your primary goal here in preparing for anal sex is to wash away any evidence of a bad wipe job (it happens!), and to make yourself feel clean so that you can enter the encounter with all the confidence of Gaga doing camp.
4. Maybe use an enema or douche.
Turns out, an enema (the introducing liquid through the anus and into the large intestine to clear the bowels) is absolutely *not* a must when it comes to how to prepare for anal sex, says Sinclair. "But if you want to take extra precautions beyond a baby wipe or soap and water — which are definitely sufficient — you can use an enema for a deeper, more comprehensive clean."
You can buy a disposable enema kit (sometimes called a "hot water bottle and syringe kit") at your local pharmacy which will include a hot water bottle, a hose, a plug, and a rectal tip. Most disposable kits, such as Fleet Saline Enema (Buy It, $4, walgreens.com), come with a laxative or saline solution; dump this out (it's not necessary) and then rinse the bottle. About an hour before butt sex, lubricate the tip (~foreshadowing~), either sit on the toilet or tub, insert the nozzle into your bum, and then squeeze the water into the hole. "Hold the water for 10 to 15 seconds, then expel it into the toilet. Repeat this until all the water being released is clear," says Sinclair.
Note: "If you continue to use enemas regularly, there are risks related to muscle function and an imbalance of the electrolytes," says O'Reilly. "I generally don't believe they're necessary." (More about this step in how to prepare for anal sex, here: Do You Need to Anal Douche Before Butt Stuff?)
5. Stock up on lube.
Lube, lube, lube. This is non-negotiable. Important anal sex fact: "Unlike the vagina, the anus is not self-lubricating," says Boyajian. So, once more for the folks in the back: LUBE.
There a few considerations to keep in mind when making your lube purchase pre-butt sex: "Water-based lubes are compatible with silicone toys and are easy to clean off sheets and clothes. Silicone lube has more of silky feeling and lasts longer, but can't be used on silicone toys." And remember: While oil-based lubes can be a great sexual lubricant, most oils are not compatible with latex condoms and barriers because they'll break down the latex. (Here's everything you need to know about lube — plus the best ones to buy.)
You might be tempted to add a numbing lube or cream to the mix. Please don't, say the experts. "By temporarily numbing your butt (and by extension, your partner's genitals during anal intercourse), you are not only less likely to stop if you experience a small tear and more likely to experience pain once the cream's effects wear off," says O'Reilly.
TL;DR — Yes to lube (try one of these best lubes for anal sex); no to numbing lube/cream.
6. Say yes to foreplay.
So you and your partner have consensually agreed that tonight's the night for anal sex. Good for you (after all, many people love anal sex). But that's not a green light to pass "Go" (read: foreplay) and collect $200 (read: butt sex) — at least not yet. Just as you warmed your bod up during your solo anal exploration, you want to be warmed up to prepare for anal sex with a partner, too.
"Get yourself riled up using the techniques you normally use," says O'Reilly. "Better yet, have an orgasm first…Your body is most responsive to pleasure and primed for arousal when your endorphin and oxytocin levels are elevated post-orgasm." (See: 7 Health Benefits of Orgasm)
7. Try rimming, or oral-anal sex.
Oral-anal play has many names: Rimming, analingus, tossing the salad, to name a few. Whatever you call it, Dr. Goldstein is for it. "I highly recommend rimming for those about to engage in anal sex, as it will help get you relaxed and ready to receive!" he says. "It's amazing what a little tongue action can do. It can help put the receiver's mind at ease while warming them up to relax their sphincters."
Still, there's an undeniable, uh, intimacy of having someone's tongue doing swirlies in and around your backdoor, so make sure you and your partner are on the same page before introducing tongue to the butt sex action.
Friendly PSA: "Even if you try rimming, make sure spit is not your lubricant of choice," says Dr. Goldstein.
8. Use toys to prepare for anal sex.
This next step in how to prepare for anal sex is something you can do in your own solo play or with a partner: using toys to work up to the size dildo or penis you would like to use for penetration during butt sex. (You can also use fingers; more on that in a sec.)
If you remember any single thing from this guide, make it this: Never insert anything into your butt that doesn't have a flared base. Unlike the vagina, which comes to a full stop (hi, cervix), the rectum keeps going into the abyss of your GI tract. A flared base will keep any toy firmly rooted on the outside of your bod. (Related: The Best Anal Sex Toys, According to Sexperts)
Once you have a trusty toy — Lovehoney's Booty Buddy Silicone Butt Plug (Buy It, $17, lovehoney.com) is ideal for beginners — use some lube, start slow, and insert the plug into your rear bit by (little) bit. "As the toy is being inserted, try to consciously relax to accommodate it. Then, have your partner remove it. Re-lube it, then insert again," suggests Dr. Goldstein. Repeat this technique of slow-in, slow-out five or six times, or until you can completely insert the toy.
If it feels good and comfortable, continue. "If it's too much, it's okay to end that session and then try again another day," says Dr. Goldstein. "I instruct most of my clients to use a small plug for two weeks, then both a small and medium plug for the following two weeks, and then finally a large plug for two weeks." Basically, going from zero to hero (err, penis or dildo) in one night is asking a lot of your anal sphincters. (Related: What Are Anal Beads and How Do You Use Them?)
Why does it take so long? Because your anal sphincters are a muscle, like your biceps. Exercising them increases your ability to flex and relax them on command. "Remember, since your anus is always in contraction mode, deliberate muscle relaxation is key for getting it into tip-top shape, and that takes exercise and practice," says Dr. Goldstein.
And in case you're worried, "it would take a lot to stretch [the anus] to the point where it couldn't come back," says Van Kirk. "You might just relax after the first time having anal sex, which makes it feel like it's gotten bigger."
9. Or a finger.
If you don't have a toy on hand (ha), anal fingering is a good option. This will help both you and your partner learn how your anus works, anatomically. "The nice thing about finger dilation is that your partner can massage the muscles in the anus to get them to fully relax, which should lead to the most pleasurable engagement," explains Dr. Goldstein. (BTW, did you know that being afraid to finger yourself is actually quite common?)
Generally, one finger is more than enough. "Just do what feels right and always be aware of your limitations," says Dr. Goldstein. "There are no awards given to whoever can get the most fingers inside."
Some tips for using fingers to prepare for anal sex: "Long or jagged fingernails can lead to localized injury," says Dr. Goldstein. He suggests trimming and filing your nails so that there are no sharp edges or hangnails when it's time for your butt sex sesh. Yikes. (Same goes for vaginal penetration, ICYDK.) To be extra careful (and clean!) you can use finger condoms or gloves.
10. Now, onto anal sex with a penis or dildo.
You feel it, you like it, you want it? You got it. If you and your partner have comfortably prepared for anal sex this far, pat yourself on the back (or bum), grab the lube and get at it — slowly. There's a long list of the best anal sex positions you can try, but for your first-time, doggy style, missionary, and spooning are best.
"Practice breathing deeply as your partner inserts a quarter-inch at a time," suggests O'Reilly. "As the depth increases, practice mindfulness by tuning into your breath. You'll likely find that your muscles relax as your heart rate slows." (Also read up on tantric sex, which is all about going super slow.)
As your partner is filling you, play with other parts of your body that bring you pleasure at the same time, she suggests. "You might use your hand to rub yourself or use a powerful vibrator against your clit to ensure that you enjoy the entire experience." (Like you needed convincing.)
Your partner may also lend a helping hand. But heads up: If your partner was using their fingers in your tush, they absolutely must wash their hands before touching your vagina, vulva, or clit, says Kim Langdon, M.D., ob-gyn at Parenting Pod in Valley Cottage, New York. (More on this below.)
No matter what, follow the golden rule of butt sex: If it's painful, stop. It's that simple. "Anal sex should be pleasurable. It should never hurt," says O'Reilly. "If penetration is painful, stop and go back to doing whatever turns you on." (See also: Anal Sex Isn't Supposed to Be Painful)
It's worth noting that you don't need to incorporate penises or dildos to consider any of these acts to be considered anal sex; if you're loving rimming, fingering, or using toys, there's no shame in stopping there — and, yes, that's still butt sex.
11. Don't forget protection.
There's a misconception there's no reason to wear protection during anal sex since there seems yo be no risk of pregnancy, but that's not the case, says Felice Gersh, M.D., ob-gyn and founder of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine in Irvine, California. "There are still STIs to worry about."
"If your partner wears a condom and uses it properly, the degree of protection is excellent for such diseases as gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis," says Dr. Gersh. But because HPV, herpes, lice, and crabs can be contacted through skin-to-skin (and pube-to-pube) contact, she and Dr. Langdon recommend wrapping it up *and* sharing STI-status with your partner. (See More: Here's How to Have the Safest Sex Every Time You Get It On)
As if you needed another reason to use protection, here's another important anal sex fact: you can technically get pregnant from unprotected butt sex. "Yes, it's possible that if someone ejaculates into your anus, semen could migrate to the outer third of your vagina," says Van Kirk. And any time there is semen near your vagina, it's possible for those little swimmers to reach an egg.
12. Pick an entrance and only one entrance.
"Never ever should the penis or dildo travel from the rectum to the vagina," says Dr. Gersh. "The rectum is highly contaminated with bacteria which can be transmitted to the vagina by the penis or dildo." This, in turn, can cause a UTI, bacterial vaginosis, or other vaginal health issues. Um, no thanks. (On that note, watch out for these other surprising causes of urinary tract infections.)
The fix: Make sure your partner changes condoms before heading North. Wearing a condom protects your partner, too. "Having anal sex without a condom could lead to the male partner developing urinary tract infections as well," says Zvi Zuckerman, M.D., certified sex therapist at the online Between Us Clinic.
Ready to join the butt sex bandwagon? Welcome aboard. And, hey, if this guide made you realize anal sex is not for you (totally fine!), try these fun twists on common sex positions instead.