Illustration by Julia Bernhard
by Jo Murphy
Anal Play 101
Let’s talk butts. Let’s talk taboos too, since they have no place when it comes to your sexual pleasure. The social stigma surrounding butt fun really isn’t necessary since anal play promises intense arousal for you and your partner. If you’re new to it, where do you begin? With consent, a condom, and plenty of lube of course.
Your actual butthole is known as your anus. Once you pass through this, you’ll enter the rectum. The rectum is dissimilar to the vagina in that it won’t self-lubricate in anticipation of what’s to come–no matter how turned on you are. Penetration without lubrication can therefore lead to painful tearing, especially if your dildo or penis is particularly large.
Additionally, these tears make you more susceptible to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and give nasty bacteria a way into your system—unless you’re wearing a condom, in which case you’ll want to choose a water-based lube. Oil-based lubricants can render condoms less effective and silicone-based lubricants erode silicone toys.
Moreover, if you’re switching between anal and vaginal sex, be sure to change the condom to avoid moving bacteria from one to the other (where it doesn’t belong). Your butt is home to all kinds of things that could cause infections in the vagina.
Know That Shit Happens
Even if you’ve had a shower (and stuck a soapy finger up there just to be sure), there’s no guarantee that playing with your butt will be poop-free. It’s possible that some fecal matter may be left behind in the rectum following a bowel movement. So, if you’re worried, place a soft, clean towel beneath you while you play. You can also use latex gloves in addition to condoms, but be mindful that sex is always messy– whichever hole you’re poking– and if the prospect of bodily excretions turns you off, stay out of your partner’s butt.
Dip Before You Dive
The rectum, supported by the sphincter muscle, is designed to keep your poop in until you’re positioned over the toilet and ready to release. It may therefore take some time and dedication to get this muscle to loosen up. Indulge in the kind of foreplay that really gets you going. Play with toys. Enjoy oral and vaginal sex before you even get to the butt.
Just make sure you hold off from climaxing and let the anticipation build. The more turned on and the closer to orgasm you are, the better. Hormonal changes that take place in the body when you’re super aroused really help to relax the sphincter muscles. Plus, you’ll be more up for it mentally and emotionally too.
No Partner Necessary
Butt play can be an important part of solo pleasure and combining some gentle anal play with masturbation can intensify your orgasm. Use your fingers or a dildo to massage, stroke and even poke your anus while you masturbate. You can also rub a vibrator along your perineum and revel in the reverberations it sends up to your butt, balls or clit.
No Penetration Necessary
If you are playing with a partner, you don’t have to go all the way with penetration. Simply up the ante with oral sex instead. Anilingus is the technical term for rimming, and you’d approach it in the same way you would cunnilingus. If you’re receiving, you’ll want to wash your butthole beforehand to ensure your partner’s enjoyment.
If you’re giving, experiment with different flavored lubes. Then begin by nibbling your partner’s butt cheeks. Progress slowly towards kissing and sucking their anus, running your tongue around the rim (hence the name) arousing those sensitive nerve endings. Combine all of the above with a hand job or some clitoral stimulation for extra sensation.
Use Your Mouth in Other Ways
Great sex isn’t always about less talk, more action – and when it comes to anal play, the opposite might be true since it brings up all kinds of stuff emotionally and physically. When someone’s poking around your butt, it could feel incredibly vulnerable, so communication is therefore as crucial as condoms and lube.
Talk about it and laugh together too, especially if this is new territory for you. Humor can dispel all kinds of embarrassment. Even if you’ve been with your partner for years, you’re still bringing your unedited, naked self to the bedroom every time you have sex. Be tender as you explore each other’s mutual and shared pleasure.
Bend Gender Rules
Anal play can be especially pleasurable for all men, regardless of sexual orientation. The male G-spot (or P-spot) is found inside the prostate gland and located about two inches inside the rectum. It can be stimulated externally by applying pressure on the perineum, or internally via penetration. So, if you’re straight, why not give pegging a go? Ask your partner to pleasure your anus with their fingers first, followed by a dildo if it feels good.
Don’t forget the lube and don’t forget to stay open physically, mentally, and emotionally. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing with or how, your erotic experience will thrive on power play. One partner (the women, according to heteronormative gender roles) will surrender, while the other partner will penetrate and control—but sex isn’t binary, and this is precisely why anal play breaks the taboos and enhances your relationship. You get to switch up these roles (and rules) as often as you like, achieving deeper connection in every way.