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Does Anal Sex Hurt? What’s the Best Way to Have It?

satisfied-looking lube cartoon with safer sex gloves

There are a lot of myths about anal sex, but if you get ready the right way, it doesn’t need to hurt and won’t cause health issues. Many people enjoy it!

A few things can help lower the chance of pain and make anal more enjoyable:

  • Using lots of lube
  • Going slowly through each step
  • Massaging the outside before penetration helps loosen the anus’ muscles
  • Starting with smaller penetration, like fingers or sex toys
  • Having the receiving partner back up or lower themselves onto the penis or sex toy, so they can control the speed
  • Checking in with the receiving partner often to make sure everything feels good

We like to say that sex shouldn’t hurt unless you want it to, and that applies to anal too! If it does hurt, it’s best to slow down or stop and try something else.

Will anal sex hurt?

Anal sex can hurt or be uncomfortable, especially if it’s the first time. The anus doesn’t self-lubricate in the same way the vagina does, which can cause uncomfortable tugging. But starting with fingers or smaller toys and using lots of  lube can make it a lot smoother. For many people, it’s possible to have enjoyable, pain-free anal sex!

Talking with your partner is also key for anal sex. It helps to check in often to make sure they’re comfortable, relaxed, and enjoying themselves. It’s also great to ask if they need more lube!

What kind of lube should I use for anal sex?

Silicon-based or water-based lubes work well for anal sex. Oil-based lubes like Vaseline, lotions, and cooking oils can degrade condoms, so these are not recommended.

Some people prefer silicon-based lubes because they don’t dry out. They can sometimes be harder to find, but you can get them at most sex shops or through programs like Kontak (see below). But they can be thinner, more expensive, and can leave stains on your sheets. If you’re worried about stains, you can put a towel down on your bed.

Water-based lubes tend to be thicker, and you need to use more of it than you would with silicon-based lube. You can also mix silicone and water-based lubes until you find a consistency that works for you.

One thing to keep in mind is that silicon-based lubes can melt silicon sex toys. So if you’re using a silicone toy, it’s best to have water-based lube on hand too.

Also know many anal-specific lubes have chemicals that numb the anus. While these sound good in theory, pain actually tells you when something’s wrong and you should stop. So if you’re numbed, there’s more risk that you’ll hurt yourself without feeling it.

Will anal sex be messy?

Another myth about anal sex is that it gets messy. This is only sometimes true, since feces usually hangs out well above where a penis or sex toy would go in. But, if you’re worried about it, there are some things you can do to make anal sex less messy:

  1. Completely empty your bowels a few hours before anal
  2. Wash your anus with mild soap and water
  3. Avoid anal enemas and laxatives. These can make it worse
  4. You don’t need to douche, but they are safe and available at most pharmacies. For safety, douche 6 hours before anal sex

What kind of protection should I use for anal?

Anal sex has a high risk of STIs (sexually transmitted infections, also known as STDs). There’s also a risk for semen to drip from the anus into the vagina and make someone pregnant. For these reasons, it’s safer to use condoms and add other birth control if you have a vagina. Also know that going from anal to vaginal sex can cause infections, so it helps to use a new condom for each.

For rimming or analingus, you can use a dental dam (a square of latex you hold over an anus or vagina for oral sex). You can also wash hands and use gloves to make fingering safer. These can also lower the risk that long or sharp nails will make scratches inside.

Check out our resources below for more information!

More info:

  • Kontak

    A program offering free delivery for at-cost sex toys, lube, and safer sex supplies. Run by AIDS Community Care Montreal (ACCM). Website includes depictions of sexuality, but not genitals, and is accessible to all ages.
    *You can also text Kontak at 514-941-SEXE (7393)

  • Anal Sex Lowdown – Scarleteen

    Scarleteen goes over some anal sex basics and tackles some of the most common myths.

  • All About Anal Sex – About.com

    A website that offers a list of sex tips, sexual health information and resources about anal sex.

  • Anal Sex and Waste Products – Ask Alice

    How to clean yourself prior to anal sex to avoid waste products (fecal mater and bacteria)

  • What’s the Deal With Anal Sex?

    About.com’s teen advice on the topic of “What’s the deal with anal sex?”
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