Behind the Back Door: exploring the ins and outs of anal sex

Alright everyone, say it with me. Are you ready? Here we go!


Now that we’ve taken that first step, let’s discuss. Despite some deep-seated stigma that some people have for the idea, anal is becoming an increasingly popular bedroom activity. In fact, in 2010 a survey published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that over 20 percent of men (ages 25-49) and women (ages 20-39) reported to have participated in anal sex within the last year. And that number nearly doubles to 40 percent when looking at those ages 20-24. While this is a very important step in the right direction, it’s important to note that, even for those of us who were made privy to the doings of the birds and the bees, it’s likely that anal wasn’t the primary focus of the conversation. So, here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind if you decide to unlock the back door.

First, always apply the rule of safety first. A lot of heterosexual couples are drawn to anal due to its property of being a natural “contraception” — and I’m using the term very loosely here. But, while this may seem appealing to some, the rectal lining is not nearly as strong or naturally lubricated as that of the vagina, and, as a result, is more prone to microtearing which increases the risk of contracting STIs such as gonorrhea, HIV, HPV, chlamydia and more.

This leads me to the next point of lubrication. The use of a proper lubrication is essential for anal sex. And, no, saliva generally won’t suffice in the long run. Additionally, in the event that you are using a condom, make sure that you are not using an oil-based lubricant, such as petroleum jelly, Vaseline, or hand and body lotions, because they increase the level of friction, decreasing the structural integrity of the condom. Be sure to use water- or silicone-based lubricants instead. Also, don’t worry about using too much lube. Keep in mind that you may even have to withdraw and reapply a few times, depending on how long your session lasts.

It’s also important to make sure that there isn’t any interaction between the vagina and fecal material. The vagina has to keep a certain balance amongst the bacteria that it houses. Introducing any rectal bacteria into that mix could tip the scales too far, which could result in yeast infections or urinary tract infections. Also, for those who are less comfortable because they are under the impression that there is a lack of cleanliness in the rectal area, the bacteria located in the anus and rectum have many infection-fighting properties and, generally, have fairly little amounts of feces in them, so long as general hygiene is practiced and the participant is in good health. So, the rectal area isn’t as different from other parts of the body as one might think. Once again, and I cannot stress this enough, remember that even the smallest amount of fecal material can disrupt the environment of the vagina.

When you’re considering pursuing anal, it’s important to learn for yourself and find out what feels good for you. Before engaging in anal intercourse, feel free to go through something of a preparation period to get used to the sensation. It’s recommended to utilize increasing sizes of objects such as your fingers, toys, and/or plugs, making sure that they are nice and hygienic before and after each use. Also, on the topic of staying relaxed so as to make for easier entrance, there are some ways to stay relaxed during the interaction. For one, foreplay and general arousal can keep the muscles in the area “warmed up,” so to speak. It is also said that having an orgasm prior to attempting anal sex can help.

With all that said, the most effective way to try anal for the first time is to be with someone that you can place a lot of trust in, given that there is more risk and that the sensation can take some getting used to. This comfort helps to put you in a more relaxed state, making the entire experience more pleasurable for everyone involved.

William W. is a Behind Closed Door columnist who wants you to know that it’s okay to come through the back door.


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