Anal Sex is any sexual act that involves stimulation of the anus. This stimulation can be internal or external.
Anal sex activities can include insertion of sex toys, anal penetration with a strap-on dildo (also sometimes known as pegging), anal penetration with a partner’s penis, oral stimulation of the anus (also known as analingus, or “rimming”), anal fingering, anal fisting, as well as any external stimulation of the area surrounding the anal sphincter with hands and fingers, mouth, or sex toys such as vibrators.
While commonly conflated with homosexuality in cis men, engaging in and/or enjoying anal sex cannot indicate or assign one's sexual orientation. Anyone can participate in and has the potential to take pleasure in anal sex, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation or that of their partner, as long as all parties are consenting. Anal sex activities can be enjoyed with a partner or alone as a masturbation practice.
The anus is the orifice at the end of the anal canal, serving as the terminal external outlet for the gastrointestinal tract. It is surrounded by a bundle of puckered, nerve-abundant tissue and regulated by two sets of sphincter muscles — the internal and external sphincters, which control the opening and closing of the orifice.
The external sphincter can be controlled voluntarily by tensing and relaxing the surrounding muscles. The internal sphincter is controlled by the autonomic nervous system, and therefore under involuntary or reflexive control.
The anal canal typically runs one or two inches in from the anus towards the rectum. The walls of the anal canal are lined with tissues that engorge with blood when aroused, analogous to the clitoris and penis.
The rectum is the last portion of the large intestine, lined with soft, smooth tissue. It the area where fecal matter is collected and stored under it is ready to be released outside of the body via the anal canal and out through the anus. The rectum is wider in diameter than the anal canal and can expand further when aroused.
Anal Pleasure and Pain
The anal region, including the anus and along the anal canal, and the rectum are rich with bundles of nerves and sensitive tissue made up of nerve endings, which can make stimulating these areas enjoyable.
Sensations of pleasure and orgasm from anal sex may come from direct stimulation to the anal region, or through indirect stimulation of other erogenous zones. Through anal penetration, indirect stimulation of the prostate, clitoris, or urethral sponge by rubbing these structures through the anal wall is possible.
Because of this region’s heightened sensitivity and delicate tissues, pain is also possible without adequate care and preparation prior to penetration.
The prostate gland (also sometimes called the P-Spot) surrounds the penile urethra and can be reached and stimulated indirectly through anal penetration. It is typically found roughly two inches inside the rectum, between the rectum and the penis.
Stimulation of the prostate is known to produce deep, intense sensations of pleasure and longer-lasting orgasms than through penis stimulation alone.
The urethral sponge, also known as the G-spot named after the man who first wrote about it, is located 1-2 inches along the vagina, behind the public bone. Stimulation to the this area during sex can be pleasurable and produce orgasm for some people. In certain positions, indirect stimulation of the urethral sponge can occur during anal penetration, resulting in enhanced pleasure sensations and possibly orgasm for some people.
Health and Safety
As it is with any sexual activity, especially where contact with bodily fluids is possible, there is a risk of infection and disease transmission with anal sex. Because the tissues of the anal and rectum are delicate, they are vulnerable to injury; any micro-tears in the anal lining increase the risk of passing infection from one partner to another.
Thus, anal sex is often considered a higher risk sexual activity. Recommended safe sex practices for anal sex include the use of personal lubricant and condom or proective barrier use.
Unlike the vagina, the anus is not self-lubricating. The lining of the anal canal is moistened by naturally occurring mucus which protects the surrounding tissues, however it is not enough to facilitate safe and pleasurable incentive anal sex activities. Use of a personal lubricant for anal sex is recommended to prevent tissue tearing or injury and increase enjoyability.
Lubricant selection depends on the body preferences and if any toys are involved. Water-baesd lubes are easy to clean and compatible with any sex toy material but often contain glycerin, an irritant for some people. Silicone-based lubes last longer between applications than water-based lubes but are not compatible with toys made of silicone. Oils last long and can be used for external massage to facilitate the warm up but they are not compatible with latex condoms.
Protection and STIs
To reduce the risk of infection transmission, it is recommended for insertive partners to use a condom for anal penetration. In the case of anal sex toys, porous toys should never be shared between partners. If sharing non-porous toys, a new condom should be used for each partner. All toys should be thoroughly cleaned between uses. A dental dam – a flat piece of latex or polyurethane that held in place to serve as a barrier between the mouth and the body – can be used for safer oral sex.
Ensuring that fingernails and cuticles are trimmed or devoid of any sharp edges, or wearing disposable gloves prior to any anal play involve finger insertion can help prevent small tears in the lining. Use of gloves can always help prevent the transmission of any possible infections.