Wellness

What A Sex Educator Wants You To Know If You're Worried Anal Sex Will Be "Messy"

Hint: It involves a butt plug.

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In this week's Sex IDK column, Emma McGowan, certified sex educator and writer, answers your questions about why anal sex is messier than using a butt plug.

Q: Is anal sex with a penis or strap-on "messy"?

Here’s a secret from a sex educator: Probably, like, 40% of the questions people ask me are about anal sex and other butt stuff. Seriously — when I got certified, there was a whole section just about answering these questions. Butt stuff, it seems, is both popular and kind of mysterious to many people! So, thanks for the question, Reader — and I’m happy to provide you with some clarity.

Zachary Zane, brand ambassador for the anal sex toy company b-vibe, says that butt plugs aren’t as messy (and just to be clear, by “messy” I mean “sometimes there’s some poop involved”) as anal sex with a penis or a strap-on, and it comes down to a difference in size and shape.

“Butt plugs tend to be shorter and wider than an actual penis, though there are certainly monstrous butt plugs that are way longer and far wider,” Zane tells Bustle. “Since penises/dildos are longer, they tend to extend further up into your rectum. It's often difficult to clean (even with douching) the upper part of the rectum where a penis/dildo can hit, so there's likely more fecal matter there.”

In other words: A penis or strap-on is just going to go deeper than your average butt plug — and you might have trouble cleaning that far into your body. But the main reason anal with a penis or strap-on can get messier is because your partner is moving in and out of your body.

“Most of the time with butt plugs, you insert it, and, once inside of you, it doesn't move around,” Zane says. “But a penis/dildo moves in and out of your rectum/anus repeatedly. Because of that, you're likely getting some fecal matter that was still hiding on the inside of your rectal wall. That's why if you were to penetrate yourself back and forth with a six-inch butt plug, the way you do a penis or dildo, it'd likely be just as messy.”

You also might see more fecal matter when you’re having intercourse because the human penis (and strap-ons designed to be shaped like one) actually has a natural “scooping” mechanism. According to a 2006 study from researchers at New York State University Albany, the “mushroom tip” of the penis is shaped that way in order to clear out the semen of other lovers that might be hanging out in the vaginal canal. If that’s the case, then it could be doing the same thing in the anus, but instead of sperm, we’re talking about poo.

And while poop sometimes happens during anal sex — and if it does, all you have to do is clean up and move on — if it’s always happening, every time you do it, then it’s time to make some changes. Maybe you’ve been having anal sex when you need to poop, so you should try at a different time of day. Maybe you could try douching your anus if you haven’t up until now. Or maybe it’s time to add more fiber to your diet to ensure you have solid stools.

Reader, "messy" anal sex is a totally solvable problem. Just take a little time to get to know your body, and you should be having mess-free anal sex in no time.