Anal sex is the cherry on top of the taboo sundae of sex

by Erin Brandt

Let’s circle back around to anal sex.

So often our narrow view of sex as being penis into vagina holds folks back from pleasurable experiences. Sex is defined by the individual and can include ANY activity — kissing, holding hands, intimate conversation, sexting, oral, solo or mutual masturbation, fingering, anal, spooning, naked time, shared bath or shower, watching porn, reading erotica, sharing a bed, strip poker, massage, and so on and so forth.

Step outside your box. Redefine your pleasure.

Anal sex is the cherry on top of the taboo sundae of sex. And yet research has shown that the numbers of folks engaging in anal sex only continues to increase. Anal sex has moved from porn into more mainstream TV and films without an increase in discussion and education. So we still hear —

“Only gay men have anal sex.”

“Anal sex is a sin”

“Anal sex is dirty.”

Well, that’s a load of rubbish.

Anyone can and does have anal sex. You don’t need a penis to have anal sex. Sure, if you are religious, and your religion says that anal sex is a sin, you can choose not to do it. However, that religious view does not dictate how others need to behave. I have heard dozens of stories from youth raised without comprehensive sexuality education who are engaging in anal sex because it is the “safe” sex since one cannot get pregnant. Surprise! There is, in fact, a small chance of becoming pregnant from anal sex through the leakage of sperm exiting the anus and entering the vagina. It only takes one sperm and those suckers can be determined! Finally, anal sex isn’t “dirty” — it feels good.

Before we go any further several words on lube.

LUBE. LUBE. LUBE! The skin in and around the anus is thinner and more sensitive. If you are exploring anal pleasure please, please, please bring the lube. There can never be enough lube! Go beyond water-based and bring some super slick silicone or even an oil-based* lube. Don’t skimp on this very important step and you’ll appreciate the extra pleasure from a lubed up anus.

Before we go any further, again, please for fuck’s sake ask for consent. I just read an article full of horror stories of people slipping a penis, finger, or a toy into someone’s anus without their consent. Seriously!? Seriously! Don’t be that person. Anal sex isn’t some extra bonus you get to take from someone while engaging in other sexual behaviors.

The Good BitsThe anal cavity has nerve endings that stimulate through pressure — or in some areas stroking, licking, and rubbing. Most male-bodied folks have a prostate, which can be stimulated through anal sex. All bodies can enjoy the extra pressure and stimulation of this sensitive part of the body. Penetration isn’t the only way to interact with the anus. Rimming or touching/licking the area around the anus can feel amazing. You need to remember that the pubic area is flooded with blood and that the nerves are perking up during arousal so the entire area is sensitive to attention.

If you are having penetrative anal sex, there are a couple of guidelines you’ll want to follow:

Consent from everyone involved

LUBE (I will never stop yelling about lube.)

Patience and trust

Anal specific toys — they have a flared base to prevent full insertion which keeps them from getting pulled into the anal cavity.

Start small and work your way up.


An enema, if you choose

Condoms for toys or a penis


The first time you have anal sex you need to start small. The anal muscles have been pushing feces out your entire life and those muscles won’t understand you trying to put something in. You need to train them to go both ways and you need to do it respectfully. There are training toys you can buy — a series of butt plugs that start small and get bigger as you work your way up. If you have a partner with a penis and the plan is to have penetrative anal sex using the penis, the average penis is going to be too big to fit comfortably the first time. Can’t afford the training butt plugs? Use your fingers. Trim your nails, start with one, and use LUBE.

The anus doesn’t need or even want a lot of pumping and thrusting (certainly up to the individual’s desire), which is why butt plugs are a favored toy. It’s the extra pressure that feels good, a sensation of feeling full. If you have a prostate, applying pressure is what it wants! To be pointed about pumping and thrusting — this is what a penis wants to feel.

Some Health LogisticsWhat about (leans in and whispers) poo? Feces or poo, dookie, crap, shit, etc., is the waste matter our bodies produce after gleaning all the nutrients it needs from food. If you are squeamish about interacting with anal sex because of feces, you can chose to perform an enema — cleansing the anal cavity with a water solution. Enemas are not required for anal sex and I strongly, strongly encourage you to do research before performing an enema. You need to know what you are doing and the side effects of enemas. It’s worth talking to a doctor about to have a clear understanding of what enemas do to your body.

Anal sex is a higher risk sexual behavior for the transmission of infections. As I mentioned earlier, the skin in and around the anus is thinner and more likely to tear without proper care. Using condoms, gloves, and dental dams can protect everyone involved from fluid exchange and the risk of STIs. Also, anal tearing hurts and can lead to bigger problems, so using LUBE, and lots of it, can help prevent tearing.

This is all manageable with communication and respect for your lovers — whether you are in a long term relationship or a one-night stand. Ask for consent, bring the lube, talk about needs and desires, and do it.

Erin Brandt (she/her/hers) has been a sexologist for 15 years. When she’s not spreading sexual knowledge, Erin can be found learning from her child, hiking with her partner, cuddling with her pitbull, knitting with her cat, dancing with friends, and searching for the nearest hammock and ocean breeze. Want more? Visit


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