If you've ever asked people how they feel about anal sex, you already know that's a divided topic. It’s either something you like or don’t like, and it’s rare you find those who are somewhere in the middle. Even if a person hasn’t had it, they probably have an opinion about anal sex and sadly, too often, some people are too willing to dismiss it or, even worse talk smack about it. Wild myths and societal taboos tend to do that. But isn't it fun to dispel myths and engage in as many taboos as possible? I think so. Also anal sex feels really good.
"Despite the climax-centered design of the bum, anal sex continues to retain its taboo status — at least in theory," Dr. Jessica O’Reilly, PhD., host of the SexWithDrJess Podcast, tells Bustle. "In reality, anal sex is quite common... and orgasm rates are actually higher for [people with vulvas] who include anal play in their erotic repertoire."
That may have something to do with the fact that people with vulvas who have anal often and enjoy it, just might be a little bit more open-minded and adventurous.
Anal sex feels different for everyone. Some say it feels really intense, in a good way, while others like Bustle reader Colleen, explained it like this: “You know when you really have to poop, and you're in a public place and there's no place for you to go, so you have to wait, and you're really, really uncomfortable? Like, you almost don't even want to breathe or sneeze because you're afraid of what might happen and you're just this huge ball of unhappiness and tension? You can't enjoy anything in the world and you can't concentrate?”
Yup: that’s what anal feels like to her. But anal sex doesn’t have to feel bad or weird or dirty or gross. Anal can feel pretty awesome, if both you and your partner know what you’re doing. If you’ve yet to have a positive anal experience, then let's turn that around for you. Here are eight hacks to make anal sex better, like way better.
1. Communicate Your Concerns
One of the big anal sex anxieties, is whether or not it's going to hurt. And because this is can be a real concern for those on the receiving end, those concerns need to be communicated.
"Anal sex should not be painful," O'Reilly says. "So proceeding gradually in terms of speed, depth, and the size of the inserted object is of paramount importance."
O'Reilly suggests focusing on your breathing and deepening it as you prepare your body and mind.
"Then begin with a very small object like your pinky finger," O'Reilly says, before increasing the size gradually."
If you address your concerns and make your partner aware of everything you're thinking about when it comes to anal, you can have a dialogue that will make the experience all that much better for both of you.
2. Understand What’s Going On Down There
I have always believed that in order to enjoy anything to the fullest degree, you need to have a really good grasp on how it all works. For starters, your butt has a lot of nerves, so there’s that. There’s also the important — and exciting — fact that all genders can enjoy anal because we all have a butt!
"Become acquainted with your bum," O'Reilly says. "Your ass is a thing of wonder, but since you probably don’t know this nether region like the back of our hand, you’ll want to do some exploring before you venture into the exciting land of anal play."
As O'Reilly explains, the anus — that pucker that some might call their bum/ass hole — is highly responsive to physical attention.
"It's rich in nerve endings and responsive to light touch," O'Reilly says. Being aware of just how sensitive this spot is is an important piece of knowledge to have in your pocket when it comes to making anal sex better.
"If you do decide to venture inside, you’ll enter the anal canal, which is less than a few inches long and rich in highly responsive nerve endings," O'Reilly says. "Comprised of soft tissue folds, this area has a good capacity for expansion and is sensitive to touch, pressure, and temperature." Which is why anal feels as good as it does.
According to O'Reilly, inside there are two sphincter muscles, "ring-like oval structures that help to hold the canal in shape." O'Reilly suggests sliding a lubed finger inside during a shower to really see what it feels like in there.
"You’ll feel the external sphincter, which you can contract and release at will (the way you might flex and relax your biceps) less than an inch beyond the opening," O'Reilly says. "The internal sphincter is just a little deeper, but because this smooth muscle ring is controlled by the autonomic nervous system (which manages automatic bodily functions like heartbeat and perspiration), it remains in a state of contraction."
Although you can't exercise complete control over this internal sphincter, as O'Reilly explains, "just as you can slow your heart rate through breathing and mindfulness, so too can you help relax this sensitive muscle through relaxation and deep breaths."
When we know how things work, it helps us be less apprehensive about it — and breathing and relaxing are major hacks when it comes to anal sex.
3. Experiment Solo
Once you have a good idea of what's going on in your ass, it's time to experiment with what you like and what you don't like. I mean, masturbation exists for a reason, and one of those reasons, besides feeling amazing, is to learn about your body.
"As a general rule, the best way to venture into unchartered sexual territory is to experiment on your own before bringing a partner into the equation," O'Reilly says. "This is because solo sex helps to detract from performance pressure, and when we’re alone we often allow our natural bodily responses to flow more freely."
As O'Reilly explains, if you're curious about butt play but not sure as to how to even tackle it, start with your own bum. Play with it, tease, include some lube to feel different sensations. It will give you a good idea as to how it might feel when you try it with your partner.
4. Realize Anal Penetration Doesn't Have To Be On The Menu
Although for some, anal sex is only penetration, that doesn't have to necessarily be the case. Sex encompasses so many different acts.
"There is nothing in the rule book that says you must include penetration in your anal sex practice," O'Reilly says. "A good exercise for newbies to build trust and become familiar with new sensations is to enjoy anal play."
O'Reilly suggests licking, sucking, kissing, giving massages, and basically seeing what feels good — with the promise of no penetration. Taking anal penetration off the table not only subtracts pressure, but that experimentation makes things a lot better.
And, let's be honest, if there was a rule book that said sex needed to include penetration, well, how boring that would be? There's so much more more to explore.
5. Don't Focus Too Much On The Butt
Similar to when you're giving oral sex to a person with a vulva, you don't need to be completely focused on the clitoris to give your partner pleasure. Same goes for when it comes to anal play.
"Don’t get hung up exclusively on the butt," O'Reilly says. "We all have a tendency to get fixated on a body part or sex act when we’re excited, nervous, or trying something out for the first time. But there is no reason that you have to focus exclusively on the bum during anal play.
Considering you have a spare hand, or maybe even two spare hands if you're giving a rim job, put them to work.
"Double your pleasure and use a spare hand to rub their clitoris or stroke their cock to produce arousal patterns with which your brain and body are already familiar," O'Reilly says.
6. Introduce Toys To Your Anal Play
OK! So you've made it through all these anal sex hacks and you want more. What does that mean? You're ready for anal sex toys!
"If you decide that anal penetration is something you enjoy, you may want to invest in an anal trainer kit, which includes various sizes of toys and plugs with flared bases for safety," O'Reilly says. "Start with the smallest one, holding it completely still at first and notice the way your body responds as you allow your muscles to relax around its girth."
From there, slowly work your way up to different lengths and girths. Let it take days, weeks, or even months — you're not in a rush.
"Sex is not a race to the finish line," O'Reilly says. "And incremental experimentation can lead to mind-blowing results."
7. Shelve Penetration
Want to really have your mind blown during anal sex? Then hold off as long as you possibly can.
"Shelve penetration until you’re highly aroused," O'Reilly says. "It is often a good idea to hold off on penetration until you’re decidedly excited, as arousal can help you to relax and have a palliative effect on your body."
O'Reilly suggests getting yourself all riled up with other body parts before, well, going for the gold (anal), so to speak.
"Once you’ve incorporated butt-play into the mix, don’t abandon your tried-and-true routines entirely," O'Reilly says. "Instead, start by making backdoor pleasure an addendum to your regular repertoire as opposed to an alternative."
And just like that, your sexual menu gets a new course.
8. Try A Position Other Than Doggy Style
It sometimes feels like anal sex is synonymous with doggy style, but it doesn't have to be. As much as the doggy style position feels great vaginally, during anal sex with a partner with a penis, it’s something you might want to skip, because it gives you less control.
If you have anal in the missionary position, you can communicate better with your partner as to what depth of penetration works for you. If you don’t want that eye contact, the spooning position is also great for anal sex. In spooning during anal, you get to decide just how deep and how fast you want to be penetrated. If you're being pegged or otherwise using a toy, talk to your partner about what position feels best for you.
Anal sex isn't for everyone and that's totally fine! But if it's something you want to try or something you have tried, and want to make it more enjoyable, these eight hacks are exactly what you need.
Dr. Jessica O’Reilly, sexologist and author
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