How to have anal sex: 8 tips for safe & pleasurable anal sex

By Maya Khamala

Anal sex, AKA butt sex. Whether you’re into men, women, or any of the other genders in the rainbow, you might count it among your favorite sexual acts. In fact, according to the CDC, in couples under 45, 36% of women and 44% of men reported that they’ve had anal sex with an opposite-sex partner. Anal can take many forms, and be a worthwhile exploration for those in committed longterm relationships and those hanging loose on the dating scene alike. But—like most worthwhile forays, knowing how to have anal sex safely is integral to getting pleasure out of it (and that’s really the whole point). If you’re in a relationship, be sure to first discuss your newfound desire to anally experiment with your partner in order to make sure you're both on the same page. Whether you’re thinking of having anal sex for the first time, are a beginner looking for best practice pointers on how to do anal the right way, or you just want more information for future reference, this one’s for you!

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What constitutes anal sex?

While many people think of anal or butt sex strictly as anal penetration, or anal intercourse (when a man’s penis enters the anus), anal sex actually includes any type of sexual act that engages (if you will) the illustrious anal area. This can mean using fingers or sex toys to penetrate the anus, or using the tongue to stimulate the anus—AKA ‘rimming.’ While back in the 80s and 90s, gay anal sex had stolen the spotlight, the reality is that anal sex for men (or male anal sex) is just one facet of a complex sexual spectrum. Anyone can enjoy anal sex, whether they giving or receiving it—as long as they do it right.

How to have anal sex

Despite depictions in mainstream porn, anal sex can’t just happen like magic without proper prep and a ton o’ lube. Ultimately, if you’re willing to put in some prep work and do your research, anal sex has the possibility of being a mind-blowingly pleasurable act. Personally, I never thought I’d like it at all until I tried it the right way and loved it. Here are a few tips on how to do anal well, and safely:

1. Take it nice and slow.

When it comes to anal sex, rushing is never a good idea. Try beginning by slowly touching and caressing (or having your partner touch and caress—as the case may be), in order to quite literally ‘ease’ into the idea. 

2. Lube, lube, and more lube.

Anal sex or even just anal play requires a whole lot of lube to be a comfortable experience. Unlike the vagina, which self-lubricates to some degree, the anus requires a quality lube to help the penis or toy move smoothly and prevent any damage to the anus. It’s best to use a water-based lubricant as oil-based lubricants can weaken condoms.

3. Keep working it, gradually and patiently.

Start by penetrating a little and then pulling out a few times. If you are the receiver, be sure to tell your partner when you’re ready to be penetrated a bit further (or if you want to stop altogether!). The giver should continue entering and pulling out—patiently—until fully inside.

4. Take cross contamination seriously.

If you’re switching back and forth between anal and vaginal stimulation—whether with a penis or with a toy, you’ll want to wash said penetrative implement first, or switch condoms, as the case may be. Otherwise, you could develop a vaginal infection from the cross-over of bacteria from your butt. No one wants that.

5. Stopping is totally cool.

Contrary to what Hollywood and mainstream porn may have us believe, having sex for a while and then stopping without climaxing, or without “finishing” an act (whatever that means) is very totally sexy and cool—especially since it indicates a strong, communicative bond between you and your partner and a willingness to explore without undue pressure.

6. If you’re not into it, say so.

Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end (pun intended), if you’re not enjoying it, don’t pretend you are. Communicate with your partner if you feel anal intercourse simply isn’t for you. There’s zero shame in having preferences.

7. Accept that with anal, may come a bit o’ poop.

I mean, it quite literally comes with the territory. If you want things on the cleaner side, you can always use an enema, but it’s not necessary. Just be sure to have a bowel movement and shower. But yeah, anal is not for the poop-a-phobic among us.

8. Orgasm may or may not be in the cards.

For some, the anus is an erogenous zone (full of sensitive nerve endings), and anal sex can lead to orgasm, but as with any sex, that doesn’t have to be the goal. It can just be a good time. For the top partner (the ‘insertive’ partner), the tightness around the penis can be insanely good too. Anal sex with a man as the bottom (the person receiving penetration) can stimulate his prostate gland, which can vastly enhance his orgasm. As for women, some can cum during anal—often via indirect g-spot stimulation, or else with simultaneous clitoral, oral, or vaginal action going on.

Is anal sex safe?

While adhering to the above tips can help keep you and your partner safe while experimenting with anal penetration, it’s perfectly natural to wonder how safe anal really is. While it’s useless to get fixed on risks in their percentage form, anal does carry a higher risk of STIs than vaginal sex. Just be careful, and you’ll be okay. The fact is, unless you’re in a monogamous relationship and have both been tested for STIs, anal without a condom ain’t the best idea (again, despite what mainstream porn has to say about it). Regardless of gender or sexual orientation, and regardless of whether you’re the ‘bottom’ or the ‘top,’ ’it’s important to protect yourself against the risk of STIs when engaging in anal sex. This means condoms, for starters, lots of lube, and dental dams for rimming. It’s also smart to put condoms on any sex toys you happen to be using, always making sure you change them between partners. 

Bottom line: it’s a bad idea to engage in any sexual act unless you feel good and ready—anal sex is no different in this regard. Always be sure to communicate clearly and honestly with your partner, and pleasure will surely abound. 

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