Anal beads consist of series of connected balls, or other shapes, for anus insertion, removal, and stimulation. So, if you already own and use butt plugs, consider adding a set of anal beads to your toy collection. What’s so pleasurable about beads going in (and out of) your bum? They can deliver serious anal pleasure to folks of all genders. “People can enjoy the sensation of the anus stretching open, the feeling of having something inserted into the anal canal, or the feeling of movement in this region,” clinical sexologist Sarah Melancon, Ph.D., tells Bustle. She says that using beads can also lead to prostate or blended orgasms if used while stimulating the clitoris, vagina, or penis.
Whereas butt plugs literally plug your booty for a sense of consistent fullness, anal beads are meant to be put in and pulled out repeatedly (to the user’s liking). “What sets [them] apart from other anal products is that they offer a longer reach into the anal canal and feature a flexible shaft with spheres or graduated shapes or spheres,” certified clinical sexologist and director of education at pleasure product brand Satisfyer Megwyn White tells Bustle. Before you go balls deep, learn the ins and outs of these anal play toys.
Navigating Types Of Anal Beads
Anal beads come in different sizes, shapes, textures, and lengths. “More ‘traditional’ anal beads involve a series of small balls spaced one to two inches apart, connected with a string or string-like piece of silicone, [whereas] other beads are more closely connected, one after another, and resemble a bumpy butt plug,” Melancon says. In addition to the distance between them, the actual beads and toy length can both range, too. She notes bead diameter can be less than a half-inch to several inches in size, and the overall product can vary from a few inches to over one foot in length.
When buying your first set, experts recommend starting small and short. “Shorter lengths and smaller beads are best for beginners — it’s better to be disappointed they’re too small than in pain because they’re too big,” Melancon says. Try body-friendly, medical-grade silicone beads like Satisfyer Love Beads or Lovehoney’s classic silicone set. If you like the sensation, upgrade to a longer, bigger set — maybe one with vibrating features for extra stimulation.
Getting Started With Anal Beads
First, address and communicate your preferences, hesitations, and concerns. “Having an open and honest conversation beforehand and while you’re in the experience can help to minimize fear and allow you to be more open to pleasure,” says White. If something feels off, speak up and/or stop play entirely.
Finger training (with or without a partner) is a gentle and pleasurable way to train the internal and external anal sphincters to relax. Before finding your way to anal beads, she suggests taking your time by exploring foreplay then going slow with insertion. “Remember to breathe deep to help you relax and let them in slow and steady, and use plenty of lube.”
Ways To Use Anal Beads During Sex
Enjoy anal beads during solo and partnered sex in the bedroom or shower (for a less messy experience). Some folks prefer using beads alone, while others enjoy stimulating their penis or vagina at the same time. “You can also insert [them] before oral sex or intercourse and either leave them inserted or have your partner pull them out slowly – one at a time or gently all at once,” says Melancon. Slowly removing beads at the brink of orgasm can intensify pleasure as well.
Anal beads don’t just feel good. They look good, too. “Some people enjoy how the anus looks as it opens up and pushes the beads out, so while one partner may be enjoying the physical feel of the beads, the other may be aroused by the visual.”
“Just because they’re called anal beads doesn’t mean they only can be used for back door play,” says White. Glide them over other erogenous zones, like the clitoris, perineum, or even insert them vaginally. Just remember to use a condom or a different set of beads to avoid infection when swapping from anal to vaginal play.
Ultimately, it’s important to relax when playing with beads (or any anal toy). She recommends inserting a few beads at a time, then pulling them out at different speeds when you and/or your partner both feel comfortable. Go slow, and remember that trust and communication are key — no need to insert the whole set, either. “Stay with what feels good and allow yourself to explore more beads when and if you feel the desire,” she says. “This is also a great way to build more trust and get intimate with your partner in a different way than you may be used to.”
Anal Beads Safety Tips
First things first, experts say never to disconnect the beads. That can result in getting them stuck or lost inside your body. Always use anal toys with a flared base or ring for safer play and easier removal.
Especially if you’re new to anal play, go slow and easy. It’s not a race, reminds Melancon. “Always insert and remove the beads slowly," she says. "Too fast can potentially cause tears or pain.” Also, remember to use plenty of high-quality lube, like Good Clean Love or Unbound’s Jelly. White says using anal lubricant can help make the experience more pleasurable and reduce friction.
What’s most important during the experience is listening to your body, says Melancon. “Especially when it comes to anal play, discomfort or a physical sense of tiredness is there for a reason,” she says, noting that our bodies send signals only we can understand. The more you pay attention to those signs, the more enjoyable experience(s) you’ll have. If you ignore them? You’ll risk causing damage. “By that same token, if your body is craving more, go for it! Just take your time, and be gentle.”
After Playing With Anal Beads
Properly wash your hands, body, and toys after each use. White recommends cleaning beads with antibacterial soap and warm water then air drying. A solid toy cleaner can work just as well.
Once playtime is over, Melancon suggests letting the area (read: your booty) rest for a while before trying again. “Feeling sore is normal and should pass within hours, but you must let your body become more adjusted by giving it a rest,” says White, who says feeling like you have to empty your bowels is totally normal post-play, too. When you’re clean and hydrated, rest and snuggle up with your partner or journal and figure out whether or not you enjoyed the experience and if you’d like to play with beads again soon.
Sarah Melancon, Ph.D., clinical sexologist
Megwyn White, certified clinical sexologist