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Everything you need to know about anal.

Everything you need to know about anal.

Ah, yes. Anal sex. One part of our sex lives that is often shrouded in myths and misconceptions. "Butt play" in particular, is a topic that many find difficult to discuss openly. However, understanding and addressing this subject with sensitivity and factual information can help you make informed decisions about your choice to, or not to, engage in anal. 

For me, my first experience came a lot later than most of my friends. I was in my late 20's and within a heterosexual relationship that wasn't particularly healthy. Combine a general lack of knowledge around anal sex, and my intense desire to please, let's say the experience that followed was painful and regrettable. 

Once I'd got the courage to try again, with someone who made me feel deeply safe and allowed my directions to control the experience, it turned out to be joyful and full of pleasure (literally.)

So, what exactly do you need to know about anal sex so that it's safe, enjoyable and comfortable? Let's begin.

What exactly is anal sex?
Typically, anal sex involves the insertion of the penis into the anus. It can also include the use of fingers, sex toys, or other objects. Before we continue, this means specifically designed sex toys. For some, it is a pleasurable activity, while for others, it might not be of interest. Like any sexual activity, consent, communication, and comfort are paramount. If you're the receiving partner, your comfort will often make the entire experience.

Why is open communication about anal sex so important?
Open communication with your partner about your boundaries, expectations, and concerns is crucial. Discussing desires and establishing consent ensures that both partners are comfortable and willing participants. It is essential to approach these conversations with honesty and respect, acknowledging each other's feelings and limits.

How do you prepare for anal sex?
Proper preparation and hygiene are key to a safe and enjoyable experience. The anus does not self-lubricate, so using a generous amount of water-based or silicone-based lubricant can help prevent discomfort or injury. If you've ever had an anal fissure or tear, you'll need to be healed before safely engaging. Additionally, practicing good hygiene by cleaning the anal area before engaging in anal sex can enhance comfort and reduce the risk of infection.

What are safe practices when engaging?

  1. Like with all sexual experiences condoms are highly recommended during anal sex to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The lining of the anus is delicate and more susceptible to tears, which can increase the risk of infection.
  2. Take your time. Start slowly and gently. This allows the muscles of the anus to relax and can make the experience more comfortable. Communication with your partner about the level of comfort and any discomfort is essential.
  3. Lubrication: As mentioned earlier, ample lubrication is critical. Lack of lubrication can lead to friction, causing pain or injury. Please remember that water isn't appropriate (no shower anal unless lubricated!)
  4. Positioning: Finding a comfortable position can make a significant difference. Experiment with different positions to discover what feels best for both partners.

What risks should you be aware of?
While many people find anal sex to be a pleasurable activity, it is important to be aware of the potential risks. These include:

  • The risk of transmitting STIs, including HIV, is higher during anal sex. Using protection and getting regularly tested are crucial preventive measures.
  • Injury can occur. The delicate tissue in the anus can be prone to tearing. Using lubrication and being gentle can help mitigate this risk.
  • Bacterial Infections:*The introduction of bacteria from the anal region to the genital area can cause infections. It's advisable to avoid switching between anal and vaginal sex without changing condoms or cleaning thoroughly.

What if there's pain and discomfort?
If you experience pain or discomfort during anal sex, it's important to stop and take a moment. Pain can be a signal that something isn't right. Sometimes, trying different positions, using more lubrication, or simply taking a break can help. If pain persists, it may be wise to consult a healthcare provider. It's also important to note that feelings of apprehension can cause those muscles to contract, which (again) is why communication is so critical. 

Should you actually have anal sex?
Anal sex, like all sexual activities, requires mutual consent, communication, and care. By understanding the necessary precautions and fostering an open dialogue with your partner, you can ensure that your experiences are safe and pleasurable. 

“Life is a series of baby steps.”

Hoda Kotb

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