Anal Sex 101: a beginner's guide to safe and pleasurable anal sex
So you want to know how to have anal sex and don’t know where to begin? You’ve come to the right place. And you’re not alone in this one — whatever your reason, a curiosity about anal is not only valid but super common.
Anal sex is one of the most popular sexual fantasies people want to explore. We know it's on people's minds regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or relationship status because of how often we get questions from the diverse Bellesa community about it. The bbs really want to how to start having anal sex and how to make it as pleasurable as possible.
Asked and answered! From how to prep for anal sex to making your backdoor exploration the most enjoyable it can be, we address all your big, booty-ful questions here. By the end, you’ll have everything you need to grab life by the peach and plunge safely and with confidence into the wonderful world of anal sex.
How to Prepare for Anal Sex
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of things you might want to have on hand for your foray into anal play.
- Lube, lube, lube, and – I can’t stress this enough – more lube
- Baby wipes
- Your favorite sex toys, properly cleaned and disinfected for use
- Disposable gloves
- Anal douche or enema
- A clean towel
- Essential oils, candles, massage oils and lotions, anything else that sets the mood for you
Everything on the list is negotiable except the lube. Sexual lubricant is an absolute need for pleasurable anal sex because, unlike the vagina, the anus is not self-lubricating.
If you’re using sex toys or condoms, the best lube options are water- or silicone-based. Which one is best for you depends on your needs. Silicone-based lubes tend to last longer but aren’t compatible with silicone toys. Water-based lubes are compatible with any sex toys and condoms. But can contain glycerin, which is an allergen for some people. If you already know you’re sensitive to it, keep an eye on the ingredients and opt for a glycerin-free lube.
Products to avoid
- Oil: Oils are great for external use but will break down latex and polyisoprene, so they aren't compatible with most condoms and gloves. This means they're not the best option if your safe sex involves these accessories.
- Vegetable products: They can also break down your condoms and, if used internally, can increase the chance of irritation and infection. They’ll also stain your sheets.
- Numbing or desensitizing agents: These products may be body-safe but the anus is a sensitive area and prone to damage when mistreated. If you can’t feel what’s going on down there, you won’t know if you need to slow down or adjust to prevent injury.
Anal Sex Toys
After your fingers, using sex toys is one of the best ways to train for anal sex. And the best toys for anal training are always the ones designed for anal play. Anal sex toys are made from all kinds of materials but we recommend silicone, glass, or metal, both for body safety and how easy they are to clean.
Regardless of what you’re putting up your butt, the most important thing is that you don’t lose it up there. Because of how anal sphincter muscles work, it’s possible for the items you insert to get sucked up inside when you’re excited or mid-orgasm. This is why your anal sex toys must have a flared base.
A flared base prevents your anal sex toy from being pulled up into your body. And saves you an awkward, potentially painful trip to the emergency room. If it doesn’t have a flared base, it doesn’t go in your butt.
Remember too that every body is different. What’s perfect for one person might not work for someone else. If you’ve only just begun your booty play journey, don’t worry if it takes some trial and error to figure out what shape, style, and material are best for you.
Butt plugs are exactly what they sound like: a plug-like object made to insert into the anus. Typically, the plug is narrow at the tip, thicker in the middle, and tapers down at the neck towards the flared base. Your sphincter muscles clench around the plug’s neck and hold it in place.
Anal Training Kits
An anal training kit is a set of several butt plugs that come in different sizes. These plugs, which can be even smaller than a pinky finger, are to ease you gently into the idea of anal and get you used to something being your butt.
Anal beads are a series of beads or bulbous portions, either attached by a string or as one continuous piece of material. The string of beads is equipped with a handle or a ring at the end for easy withdrawal. Anal beads can be uniform in size or get gradually larger down the line.
Anal Vibrators and Dildos
Any vibrator or dildo with a flared base can be used anally, although some are designed with anal in mind. Anal vibrators (as well as vibrating butt plugs) can encourage the sphincter muscles to relax when warming up. Anal dildos with suction cup bases allow for hands-free solo fun or strap-on pegging play with a partner.
Some insertable anal toys are designed for prostate massaging. The curves on a prostate toy are shaped to make it easier to reach the P-spot for enhanced pleasure and more powerful orgasms.
Sex Toy Cleaning and Considerations
Properly cleaning your sex toys before and after each use is super important. The bacteria living in your anus and rectum is different than in other parts of your body. When transferred to places they don’t belong, these bacteria can cause infections.
For people who have both, nothing that has gone into your anus should ever go directly into your vagina. The same goes for sharing toys between partners. Washing and disinfecting whatever has gone into someone’s anus before it goes anywhere else is crucial to infection prevention. Alternatively, you can use a condom on the toy and switch it between parts and partners.
Some toys, like those made with porous materials like TPE, cannot be disinfected. If you do share them, you need to use a new condom for each user and orifice. Check our sex toy care guide for more detailed info on how to clean and disinfect different kinds of sex toys.
How to Clean Before Anal Sex
Have a bowel movement
For comfort and cleanliness, try to go to the bathroom before you get started. If you can’t though, no stress. Feces are stored in the rectum, not the anal canal. If you don’t feel like you need to go, it means that any poop hasn’t made its way far enough down your colon to matter yet. Shit happens but if you’re healthy and regular, things will be relatively clean.
Have a bath or shower
With mild, gentle soap and a clean cloth, wash the area around your genitals and anus. You can also press a soaped-up finger into your ass to clean out the entryway and begin your warm up. Again, gentle is key because the tissue inside the anal opening is delicate. Rinse well when you’re done.
Use an enema or anal douche
An enema or anal douche is a device that inserts water into the anus to rinse out anything in the anal canal and rectum. You can use an enema before the fun, but it’s not necessary before for basic anal play. If you decide to douche, make sure to do so a couple of hours before your date. You’ll want to give yourself a chance to make sure everything comes out before you get started.
To prevent minor tears to the delicate anal lining, it’s a good idea for everyone to trim their fingernails. Otherwise, you can use disposable gloves, which can help prevent discomfort and infection if you have any cuts or scratches on your fingers and hands.
On top of health and safety reasons, gloves can make for a really nice slide when you’re all lubed up and make for a breezy clean-up.
Everyone has hair around their anus. You can let it run wild, trim it, shave it, wax it. There are no rules for hair grooming here besides: do whatever makes you feel sexy.
Because the more comfortable you are in your body going into the fun, the more you’ll be able to relax into it.
How to Train Yourself for Anal Sex
Now that you’re clean and your space is all set with everything you need, you’re ready to start your training. And like any workout, a good warm-up is crucial to better performance as well as injury prevention.
Remember that this process may take longer than you think and that even the pros have to do it. Porn performers make it look effortless because they do their prep off-scene. They may even start their training days in advance to be ready for the shoot.
Whatever level you’re at, following these guidelines for training your butt before you slide into any penetration play will make the experience more enjoyable and pain-free.
Find a comfortable position
There is no one best position for everyone. Lying on your back, lying on your side, squatting, getting on all fours... Do whatever feels most comfortable for you and puts your body at ease.
Warm up without penetration first
Again, you already know what works best for you. You might start with your fave ethical porn or some audio erotica, massaging, stimulation around the genitals with hands or a favorite vibrator, or all of the above. You want to get your body and mind on board for playtime.
If you’re playing with a partner, you can invite them to massage their way between your legs and start gently loving up on your butt. This is also a great time for oral sex or rimming.
Before you graduate to small toys, start with no more than a finger and some lube. With a well-lubed finger, tease around the anus to familiarize yourself with these new sensations. Press the pad of your finger to the opening to get acquainted with how the sphincter muscles react to touch.
Getting used to touching and being touched in this area is an important step. The more comfortable you are with inviting pleasure to this part of your body, the more pleasurable the hole experience will be.
Take your time
Insert one finger up to the first knuckle, pause there, and breathe around the sensation. You can add really gentle moments slightly up and down or side-to-side but if that’s uncomfortable, pause again and breathe until you’ve adjusted to this new presence. This may be as far as you get on your first try with inserting something and that’s an awesome first step!
Don’t expect to go from zero to dildo on your first go. Some people take longer to adjust than others. You may take longer this time than you did in your last session. Meet that butthole wherever it is today.
Small goals for big pleasure wins
In her Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women, Sex educator Tristan Taormino suggests setting small goals, like simply getting one finger in and bringing yourself or your partner to orgasm with that finger still inserted. Showing your body that you can experience such pleasure during anal is a small feat but a huge win for your training. The mental side of anal is just as important as the physical.
As you grow more comfortable, try different finger movements (e.g. slowly and gently in and out, twisting, or a “come hither” motion towards G-spot or P-spot), adding another finger, or working up to a small toy. You’ll notice how your anus relaxes into receiving more and you’ll feel when you’re ready to go bigger.
Pull out slowly
When you’re done, withdraw whatever is inside very slowly. Not only for injury prevention and cleanliness but also because, for some people, it can be a little overwhelming to experience the loss of sensation at the end of a session.
Anal Penetration and Partner Play
Once you’ve warmed up with fingers or your small toys, you may feel ready for something bigger like a dildo or a partner’s cock (be it flesh or synthetic).
Everything for your warm-up applies whether you’re alone or with a partner. But when we add another person to the mix, we must also add an open flow of communication and mutual respect for the receiver’s butthole.
Especially if this is your first time doing anal with your partner, it’s important to discuss the specifics beforehand. Talk about your likes and dislikes, what you’re comfortable with, what you’d rather not do yet, and how you’ll communicate when the time comes. You might even want to set a safeword for extra peace of mind.
This mental preparation will help everyone be more at ease, which prevents any painful surprises and enhances the potential pleasure for the receiver as well as the giver.
Receiving Partner is in Control
Let the receiving partner set the pace until their butt has relaxed and check in with every little adjustment. Remember, the receiver is the one in the control seat because it’s their butthole calling the shots.
During your playtime, the giver should askhow things are feeling and the receiver should feel comfortable giving honest feedback, including if that means stopping. There is no reward for fighting through the pain here. If it doesn’t feel right, let your partner know right away and adjust accordingly. Struggling through it in silence will only lead to literal pain and possible injury.
Best Positions for Anal Sex
At the end of the day though, the best position is whatever position works best for you and your partner, and allows the receiver to be most relaxed and comfortable. Some popular positions for starting anal sex include:
- Missionary: Being face to face gives you a great opportunity to make eye contact during important communication.
- Doggy Style: With the rear-entry point of view, the giver has a better perspective of the situation. You could still get some eye contact happening if you set up in front of a mirror.
- Rider (aka Cowgirl): Rider style positions are characterized by the receiver being on top and straddling their giving partner. This gives the receiver greater control over the pace and rhythm of penetration.
- Spooning: With both partners lying on their sides, it reduces weight-bearing for both and can facilitate body relaxation. It also can create a greater sense of safety and intimacy.
Once you’ve found the right starting position, the giver can tease around their partner’s anus with the generously lubed-up tip of the penis or dildo, press the head to the hole, and slowly enter. It may sound counterintuitive but the receiver can gently push out with their sphincter muscles as the cock is pushed into them to help with the insertion.
With the head inside, stay there while the receiver breathes through this new adjustment. Remember to check in with each other on how things are feeling. Givers, do not rush the thrust! Your partner will let you know when they’re ready for more of you.
Pain-Free Anal Sex
One of the biggest anxieties around anal sex is the fear that it will hurt. So, I cannot stress this enough. Anal sex should NEVER hurt.
Some discomfort might occur as you get to know these new sensations. That’s a sign to make an adjustment – add some more lube, slow down, keep breathing, try something smaller or go back to your warm-up methods.
But if it hurts, stop what you’re doing. Pain tells you that you’ve got too far too fast.
Withdrawal and Aftercare
Always withdraw slowly. After feeling so full, the receiver may feel a sense of loss or emptiness which can be quite emotional for some people. Once any necessary quick clean-up is done, the giving should a partner be attentive to the receiver’s immediate physical and emotional needs. A little aftercare always goes a long way.
Safety and Risks
STI Transmission and Prevention
Because exposure to bodily fluids is involved, there is a level of risk associated with anal play. The lining of the anus is sensitive to damage, making it a more vulnerable area for potential infection transmission. The use of barriers like condoms, sanitary gloves, and dental dams can help prevent and reduce the spread of infections.
We already know that pain means stop. If you notice blood, the same rules apply. It may be an anal fissure, a minor tear in the anal lining that will heal on its own with rest, or the result of hemorrhoid irritation. Slowing down and using more lube next time will help prevent this. But if you find you bleed every time you play, talk to your doctor.
As with any kind of sex, there are always some risks involved. As long as you take the necessary precautions, heed the cues from your body while you play, use plenty of lube and warm up well, anal sex can be a perfectly safe and healthy activity sex activity to engage in.