You know you have a lotttttt of questions

By Gigi Engle
February 28, 2020
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It's been literal years since that episode of Broad City when Abby used a dildo to anally penetrate her hot neighbor, and people are still not over it. While the show gave pegging some good PR, unfortunately, there's still a lot of stigma and confusion surrounding this sex act. (Thanks, toxic masculinity.)

If you're a woman who has sex with men, using a dildo on their rear may sound very hot and empowering, but some cis, hetero men are still worried that having something up their butt can "make" them gay. Of course, this mode of thinking is ridiculous; nothing is going to make you gay because being gay is not a lifestyle choice, and the physical sensations you enjoy during sex don't dictate your sexuality. (Related: For Real Though—Does Anal Sex Hurt?)

Luckily, more and more people being vocal about their love for butt stuff—regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

"Men have been enjoying anal penetration for thousands of years, but the name [pegging] is relatively new—as are public discussions of anal sex outside of a homophobic context," says Cyndi Darnell, a sex and relationships therapist in New York City.

Curious? If pegging is something you've been wondering about (or maybe freaked out about), here's all the information you need to know.

What Is Pegging?

In case you hadn't sussed it out from the above description, pegging is anally penetrating someone with a strap-on (a dildo secured in place by a harness).

While the act of pegging goes back a very, very long time, the term is relatively new. It originated in a 2001 poll conducted by sexpert and podcast host Dan Savage in which he asked listeners to come up with a word for this sex act. Pegging came out on top (pun intended), and it seems to have stuck quite nicely.

What's the appeal? A lot of things, actually. For one, the person on the receiving end gets a chance to explore anal penetration (which, FTR, can be pleasurable for anyone).

There are plenty of perks on the giving end as well. A strap-on gives a person without a penis the chance to explore what it is like to have a penis. (Sounds fun, right?) This can offer a novel sense of control; as the giver, you can internally pleasure your partner in a way you haven't before. Plus, if you have a clitoris, griding against the butt of your partner can feel quite intense, much like masturbating. Many harnesses have a pocket in front where you can place a small vibrator for extra stimulation.

"Pegging can also have an element of dominance/submission, though it doesn't always have to embody those mental aspects," says Lola Jean, a sex educator and professional BDSM practitioner. (So if you're curious about BDSM, pegging could be a fun way to explore it.)

It's worth noting that, no, pegging isn't just for straight people. It's a sex act available to one and all, regardless of gender or body parts.

How Do You Bring Up Pegging with a Partner?

PSA: Like any other sex act, it's vital that everyone involved in pegging be 100 percent on board. Enthusiastic consent is the foundation for all amazing sexual experiences.

  1. Come prepared. Darnell suggests using an outside resource on pegging (such as this article) as a conversation starter. With information in hand, you can begin a conversation about whether it's something you both would be interested in.
  2. Talk fantasies. If your partner has never considered the prospect of pegging before, you can bring it up by asking if they have any fantasies. Then, you can share yours. If it's something they find interesting or intriguing, watch some porn that involves pegging. You can also listen to some audio erotica if that's more your style with apps like Dipsea and sites like FrolicMe.
  3. Make the conversation about the two of you. Even if you're wearing a strap-on, this isn't about "you" it's about "we." You should want to explore this as both someone interested in being the giver, but also as someone who's excited to have their partner be the receiver. If your partner says "no" and they aren't willing to even entertain the possibility of anal penetration, you need to be OK with that. Good sexual experiences are built on pleasure, trust, and communication.
  4. Acknowledge the scary stuff. That being said, Jean says it's important to discuss and acknowledge someone's fear and worries, if only for better communication and education. "Understand and hear their reservations—if any—and provide education if needed." For instance, the recieving partner may be afraid it will hurt or that poop will get everywhere. "Neither of those need to happen with pegging, so try your best to mitigate and understand those reservations," says Jean.

Hygiene and Anal Play

Start with hygiene. You don't need to douche in order to try pegging, but some people prefer it. Sometimes feeling as clean as possible internally can help alleviate some of the stress around the "messiness" of butt play. If you want to douche beforehand, use a simple bulb like this one. If this doesn't appeal to you, just be sure to take a shower beforehand and have a solid bowel movement three to four hours before receiving anal. (Before you try anal douching, read up on how to get started and potential risks.)

Speaking of poop, it's low-key unavoidable in most cases. If you're going to do butt stuff, you need to come to terms with this fact. You're dealing with an anus. Poop comes out of anuses. This is a normal thing and it doesn't mean butt play is bad. Expecting to put something in a butt and have it remain clean is wishing for the stars.

Get yourself some reliable water-based or silicone-based lubricant. The anus doesn't lubricate itself the same way a vagina does, so lube is an essential part of comfortable and pleasurable anal play. Silicone lube is more slippery, but if you use it with a silicone dildo, you can do serious damage to the toy. I recommend this anal lube from System Jo or this silicone lube from SKYN.

Wrap it up. If you're practicing pegging with multiple partners, be sure to use condoms on your dildo. This will help both with hygiene and with avoiding spreading STIs. Using condoms can help with easier cleanup, but you should still thoroughly clean your sex toys with soap and water after every use, regardless of barrier methods. (Related: How to Prepare for Anal Sex, According to Experts)

Warming Up: Solo + Anal Play

Now that you have your lube and are ready to try anal pleasure, it's important to start SLOWLY. The slower the better with anal play. The anus is surrounded by a set of muscles called sphincter muscles, and it doesn't naturally stretch or lubricate the way a vagina does.

"Use your hand before you use a tool," says Jean. "You have more control—not to mention feeling— with your hand. Focus on touch and response, trying different things slowly and seeing what works for this person."

If you haven't tried anal penetration before, you may want to get an anal training kit to get started. These dildos gradually increase in size and help you to take larger objects in a safe, comfortable way. (I love this one from b-Vibe and this one from Doc Johnson.)

You can try anal play alone or with a partner, depending on your preference. It can be easier for some people to try it alone first in order to remove some of the anxiety with being with someone else in a vulnerable state, but this is subjective. Do what works for you!

The Main Event: Pegging

Once you're ready, you'll need the right stuff. Luckily, you don't need to be a strap-on or sex toy expert to get quality gear. In fact, you can buy full pegging sets that make first-time pegging easy. They usually come fully loaded with a strap-on, harness, and a dildo. The one you'll buy is subjective, but one helpful thing to keep in mind: Start small. You can also ask your partner to get in on the purchasing process as a fun warm-up activity. Shopping for sex toys together can be a super intimate bonding experience. (Related: The Best Anal Sex Toys, According to Sexperts)

If you're unsure or want some inspiration, try watching some videos on pegging. There are plenty of great explainers out there, like the one on Lovehoney's amazing educational YouTube channel.

The best piece of advice anyone can give beginners for first-time pegging is to go as slowly as you possibly can. Don't just slam the dildo in and say a prayer. This is a surefire way to end up with an injury and an unplanned trip to the ER. Remember: Anal play should NOT hurt. If something hurts, stop immediately and communicate with your partner. You can take a breather and reassess, or you can move onto a different sexual activity if you'd prefer. Be patient with yourself. You're new to this and it's OK to make mistakes. Take it slow and figure out how this sex act works for your particular body—and your partner's. If you're the receiver, breathe into your body. You want to relax the anal muscles. If they're tensed up, insertion could be painful. Take deep belly breaths in and out. Communicate how you're feeling; both partners should check in regularly to make sure everything feels good. (Related: The Best Anal Sex Positions for Beginner to Advanced Play)

The two best positions for pegging are flat doggy style and classic rider-on-top (aka cowgirl or cowboy).

Flat Doggy Style

Julian Birchman

Regular doggy style can seem like the "given," but it's actually easier to try flat for pegging newbies. Have your partner lie on their stomach. Enter them from behind. You'll almost be lying on top of them. This makes deeper penetration easier and more comfortable. This position can be a bit of an upper arm workout, but it can also be crazy hot.

Cowperson

Emma Darvick

If your partner would prefer to be on top, lie on your back and have them climb on top of you. What's great is that they can lower themselves onto the dildo at their own speed, which can help with control of depth and speed. This position is super hot because it gives an entirely new experience of having your partner on top.

Make Time for Anal Aftercare

As with all sexual experiences, aftercare is a key component. This is when you and your partner have a chance to cuddle and talk about everything that worked (and everything that didn't). Aftercare is important because it allows you to develop a good understanding of your partner's headspace. "Anal can be more of a vulnerable experience since this is a part of our body usually associated with shame, so individuals can feel even more exposed after such an act," says Jean.

Pegging is a new experience and you want to get clear with your partner on how they felt about it and how you feel about it. Take time to connect and be vulnerable and loving towards one another. Sex is a confusing, beautiful, and sometimes scary thing. Everyone's just doing their best to have and give the most pleasure possible. (Related: I'm a Sexologist and Here Are 6 Lessons I Wish I Could Give My Younger Self About Sex)

Pegging might seem like an intense sex act, but really it can be a beautiful (and very hot) bonding experience between two people. It takes a lot of emotional intelligence to exchange power in such a novel way. Revel in how much you and your partner care for each other (regardless of your relationship status) and celebrate the decision to try something new.

Gigi Engle is a certified sexologist and author of All The F*cking Mistakes: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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