The taboos around anal sex are being flushed away. Maybe you’ve seen assplay on Girls or The Mindy Project, or you took a class at Harvard, and now you’re curious about what your rear can do for you, but you want to ensure the maximum pleasure and minimal pain of butt play. As a public service, we have compiled some anal sex basics from sexperts and scientific literature.
The anus is the entry point, about one and a half inches deep. Your rectum comprises the next eight or nine inches. Two rings of muscle encompass your anus: the external sphincter and the internal sphincter. The external sphincter is closest to the anal opening and is that part you can control, while the internal sphincter is involuntarily controlled by your body. Try tensing and relaxing your anus — that’s the external sphincter.
Your anus contains the highest concentration of nerve endings; in fact, half of all nerve endings in the pelvic region are in the anus. All those nerve endings make the area highly sensitive to pain — and pleasure, and stimulation may even cause orgasm in both men and women.
Now that you have a basic idea of your anal anatomy, here are three things to consider to get the most out of your anus and rectum.
1. Practice Makes Perfect
Managing the involuntary spasms of your internal sphincter takes time and practice. Sexologist Jack Morin, author of Anal Pleasure and Health: A Guide for Men, Women and Couples, recommends “regularly inserting a finger, perhaps in the shower each day, and feeling the internal sphincter. The muscle changes spontaneously and in response to behavior.” Pay close attention to the sensations. Get used to the sensations. Only then will you be able to fully relax for maximum anal pleasure.
Dr. Morin recommends starting small with no end goal in mind other than to experience pleasure. Maybe it’s just a tongue up there. Then a small toy and a finger. Practice by yourself before with a partner. Make sure you trust your partner will stop if you’re in pain. And make sure you say something if there’s pain – it should never be painful.
“Readiness is a combination of physical relaxation, usually helped along by plenty of leisurely anal touching, and desire,” says Morin.
Oh, and lubricant. Use lots and lots of lube.
2. Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness
The purpose of your rectum is to pass poop. So good hygiene is just good etiquette.
The first thing you want to make sure of is that your rectum is clear of feces. If you’re constipated, not only could you end up with a mess, but your internal sphincter is more likely to tense up more often, says Morin. Plus, you’re more likely to get hemorrhoids if you’re straining to defecate — he recommends eating a diet high in fiber (fruits, veggies, whole grains) to guarantee smooth sailing.
Before any activity, clean your anus by sliding a soapy finger inside you in the shower. Not too much soap though, as it can irritate your insides. You might also consider using an enema to make room.
OB/GYN Hilda Hutcherson, the author of What Your Mother Never Told You About Sex, recommends leaving a few hours after your enema before any anal sex. Enemas can cause trauma to the rectum, increasing the risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections.
Hutcherson also says to use condoms to prevent STI transmission. Also, get regular STI testing and make sure to get regular anal pap smears. A 1997 study published in the New England of Journal of Medicine (and supported by many studies since) concluded the human papillomavirus (or HPV) likely causes preventable anal cancers.
3. Mind Over Matter
If you’re afraid it’s going to hurt — it’s going to hurt.
That’s because fear will cause your internal sphincter to tense up, even if the desire is there. “For many people, the turning point in anal sex is when they allow a partner to massage the anus with the understanding that intercourse will not be attempted,” says Morin. So maybe all you need is finger and tongue caresses so you can focus on the pleasure. Decide if you want to go further at your own pace.
Another mental block for many is the idea that receptive anal sex is emasculating, humiliating, or represents a surrendering of control. Morin says these individuals are more likely to relax and enjoy themselves if they can learn to regard anal sex as pleasurable rather than as an expression of power.
So go ahead and enjoy that butt-hole of yours. Bottoms up!
Featured image via Chris&Oli.