Tips for Anal Sex
It’s very common for people to have questions about anal intercourse. We’ve put together our top ten tips for anal sex to help folx have a safer and more pleasurable experience!
1 Consider What You and Your Partner Want and Feel Ready For:
Even when we know we want to have certain kinds of sex, we may be comfortable with some things and not others. We may, for example, feel ready to be the insertive partner in anal sex (the person penetrating) but not the receptive partner (the person being penetrated) or vice versa. Or we might feel ready for anal sex involving a finger, but not a penis, or anal sex with a condom but not without a condom. Thinking through what we want and feel ready for ahead of time can make it easier to communicate our boundaries to our partner(s) before or during sex.
It’s also okay not to know exactly what you do and don’t want! Sometimes experimenting, when we feel safe enough to do so, can be a good way to find out what we do and don’t enjoy. This is why communication is so important in sex – so we can tell our partner(s) “yes, I like that, I want more of that!” or “that felt like a bit too much and I’d like to slow it down” or “I’m not really into that, can we do this other thing instead?” or “I’ve changed my mind and I want to stop.”
Just like with other kinds of sex, everyone will have a different experience with anal sex. Some people love it, others think it’s so-so, and others do not like it at all. What we enjoy and do not enjoy can be a lifelong preference, or it can depend on the day, the partner, and the circumstances.
If you and your partner are interested in experimenting, you will be able to discover your own comfort and enjoyment levels with anal play or make the decision that it is not for you. If you or your partner are not truly interested in anal sex, you may want to have a conversation with them about boundaries, or other ways you want to be sexual together instead. Again, communicating with our partners around our likes and dislikes can go a long way toward more pleasurable, consensual sex.
Some good resources around this include:
2 Get Consent:
Firstly, always get consent (the other person’s enthusiastic permission/ agreement) about any kind of sexual activity. Even if you really want to have a certain kind of sex, it is never OK to pressure someone into having it with you.
It is also good to notice if the other person is asking for your consent. No one should feel expected to have sex at all, or a certain kind of sex, or be in any way forced or pressured sexually. If they’re not actively checking in with you about consent, that might be a red flag for behaviours that are not OK. Here are some good resources about to take a look at (content note: these articles talk about sexual assault and abuse):
3. Do it Sober or Consider Limiting Drugs and Alcohol:
People who have sex when sober usually have a much better and safer time. Also, when someone’s judgement is clouded by alcohol or drugs, it can be harder to be sure about consent. If someone is very drunk or high, then it can be considered a sexual assault. To learn more, including tips for safer sex when drugs and alcohol are involved see:
4. Where to do it:
Try and find a quiet and familiar setting that is private and where you won’t be interrupted by anyone.
5. Pregnancy Prevention (if needed):
If the person who is receiving anal sex has a vagina and is being penetrated by a penis, then there may be a chance of pregnancy. There is a small chance of pregnancy from unprotected anal sex if ejaculate (the fluid that contains sperm, also called semen) leaks out of the anus and come into contact with the vaginal opening. Or the penis can slip and come into contact with the vaginal opening and it can sometimes be difficult to know for sure whether this has happened. Using a condom and/or another birth control method is a good way of preventing this. You can learn more about birth control and pregnancy prevention here:
6. Safer Sex:
Unprotected anal sex carries a high chance of a sexually transmitted infections (STIs) being passed, so it can also be good to consider safer sex to reduce that chance. You can learn more about that here:
There is also natural bacteria in the anus that it is best not to have come into contact with other areas of the body, including the vagina, penis, urethra or mouth. If one of the people involved has a vagina, bacteria can be spread to their vagina or urethra if a penis slips or if you have anal sex followed by vaginal sex.
If you have both vaginal and anal sex, it is a good idea to use new condoms for each act to avoid spreading bacteria from the anus to the vagina. If the person involved with a vagina develops symptoms of a vaginal or urinary tract infection or if they are concerned about these things, it would be recommended they see a health care provider.
It is okay to take your time and enjoy the foreplay. In fact, it’s kind of strange that we call so many kinds of sex foreplay – as if they aren’t as important as intercourse, which is often considered the main act! Sexual activities that don’t involve intercourse are just as legitimate and for some people are the kinds of sex they enjoy the most.
Foreplay can also allow people time to relax. Being genuinely relaxed is very important with anal sex, since there are rings of muscle around the opening of the anus and inside that need to relax to allow pain-free penetration. If either sphincter (ring of muscle) is tense, penetration can feel uncomfortable or even painful.
Adding extra lubrication to sex reduces friction and makes things slippery, which can feel better and be less likely to cause discomfort or damage. Less friction is better for the condom as well. If using latex condoms, it is important to use lubricants that are water or silicone-based (like Astroglide, Slippery Stuff) or silicone-based (like Eros’s silicone lube). Never use petroleum or oil-based lubricants (like Vaseline or massage oil) with a condom as those destroy latex! You can buy lube at a drug store, adult store, or online. Many clinics also offer it for free.
With anal sex, lubrication is particularly important because the anus and rectum doesn’t have a built in source of lubrication like the mouth and the vagina. With anal sex, it is best to use as much as you think you need…and then more! There are also special thicker lubes that are made specifically for anal sex. You can learn more about lube here:
Placing a pillow use the rear of the person being penetrated relax and make the angle of penetration more comfortable Or, you can consider having the person being penetrated on top, so that they can control the speed and depth of penetration.
10. Go Slow and Communicate:
During sex play, ensure that the person penetrated is in control, and communicating to the penetrating person how things are going: how fast to go, how deep to go, when to ease up, and so on
It might be good to start with a finger first, to get the anus used to something smaller. From there the person being penetrated can decide if they want to go up to something bigger, such as a penis or a sex toy. If using a sex toy (such as a butt plug), it is usually recommended to buy a small one and work up in size when appropriate. It is important to buy/use one with a “flare” at the bottom so that it cannot escape inside the anus and get stuck there. Keep in mind that it may take several session before someone is ready to graduate to the next size. Some people may never feel comfortable with a penis or sex toy, but may enjoy a finger.
If the penetrated partner feels ready to try a penis or penis-shaped toy, start with the head first. If that is okay, ease it in an inch or two farther and check comfort levels again. Once the penis or toy is all the way in, hold it there – don’t just start thrusting. Take as much time as both partners need to adjust to the new sensation.
If any of the partners are relatively inexperienced at this, take the pressure off by giving up on goals and concentrating more on enjoying the process. Like so many things worth doing, it may take several tries before everyone is happy with the experience.
Important: Anal sex should not be painful. If pain occurs, it is good to slow down or stop. If everyone is ready to try again during that sex session, then relax, and use extra patience, lubrication, and communication. Maybe try just fingers (or fewer fingers) until it is comfortable.
Penetration that is too fast or rough could even risk causing a small tear in the wall of the rectum. Very small tears may cause a small amount of bleeding, and usually heal up just fine on their own. However, a larger tear could be dangerous. If you ever experience severe cramping or heavy bleeding during or after anal play, it would be good to see a health care provider as soon as possible.
Those are our tips for anal sex. If you have more questions, our Sex Sense team can help!
You can also learn more about anal sex and other kinds of anal play here: