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30 Things Sexperts Want You To Know About Anal Sex

So...basically everything.

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We're wiling to bet your sex ed didn't even attempt to discuss anal sex.

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Which...seems like a missed opportunity in an abstinence-only curriculum, to be honest.

Anal sex is a type of sexual intimacy that people have always explored, but advice about how to do it and how to enjoy it are often lacking — especially when compared to advice about vaginal sex and oral sex. So BuzzFeed Health spoke with the following sex educators and sex therapists for the comprehensive anal sex education that was probably missing from your life:

Logan Levkoff, PhD, sex educator and author of Third Base Ain't What It Used To Be

Charlie Glickman, PhD, sex educator and author of The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure

Emily Morse, PhD, sexologist and host of the radio show and podcast Sex with Emily

Kat Van Kirk, PhD, sex therapist and author of The Married Sex Solution

1. First of all, anal sex can be enjoyed by anyone. It's definitely not for one specific sexuality or gender identity.

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"People assume that those who try anal sex have to be gay, or that only men like to have anal, or that having anal is weird, shameful, and wrong because the butt is supposed to only be an 'exit,'" Van Kirk tells BuzzFeed Health. "But that's not true at all. Anyone can experiment with and enjoy anal. In fact, anal sex is the primary form of sex in some countries where birth control is not available to them."

So definitely don't shame yourself, your partners, or other people for wanting to try anal or enjoying it. "There’s actually very little fecal matter in that area of the rectum and the cleanup is similar to vaginal sex," she says. "The problem is a lot of people have bad experiences when they've tried anal play, because they don't know what they're doing, so that turns them off from it. Lots of people will be surprised at how much they enjoy it if they just did it right."

That area of your butt has a lot of nerve endings, says Van Kirk, which is why it can be pleasurable for anyone, regardless of whether or not they have a prostate — which we'll get into later.

2. Do not let your first time be drunk or unplanned. There must be explicit consent involved.

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"Because it's an uncomfortable topic, a lot of people experience it for the first time intoxicated, or unplanned when it ~accidentally~ goes in there," Van Kirk says. "If you’re going to have anal sex it should be talked about and both partners should be on the same page about wanting to give it a go."

3. Lube is your best friend. Opt for a thicker one that will last longer.

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“The anus doesn’t provide its own lube like the vagina," Van Kirk says. "So you need to have a really good lube available or penetration is not going to go smoothly and it will be painful."

She recommends trying a silicone-based lube or a thicker water-based lube that will last longer and not dry out on you. And stay away from oil-based lubes if you're using condoms, since these can cause the latex to break down and become less effective.

4. Porn is a pretty horrible place to learn about anal sex.

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"Pornography is like watching a cooking show where the chef is cutting onions and they just magically appear perfectly chopped on the counter, no onion skins on the ground, dirty cutting board, or people crying from the fumes," Glickman tells BuzzFeed Health.

"In porn you don’t see the anal foreplay, you don’t see lubricant being used, you don't see them talking about whether they both consent to trying it, and it’s just unrealistic."

"You can use it to turn you on, but don’t ever learn anything from it," Morse tells BuzzFeed Health. “There’s no way the positions, the pace, and the depth of penetration they're doing feels good. Honestly, I feel like I’m in pain just watching it.”

5. Regardless of your situation, you'll probably want to use a condom.

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Condoms are highly effective at preventing the spread of STIs and HIV, so they're obviously incredibly important here. And even if you and your partner are mutually monogamous and were recently tested, the person penetrating will probably want to use a condom anyway.

Levkoff tells BuzzFeed Health: "Wearing a condom minimizes clean up and the spread of bacteria to other surfaces, reduces the risk of spreading or getting an STI, reduces the risk of prostate issues in men because of the bacteria that can get into the urethra, and can prevent pregnancy."

Yep — pregnancy. In order for someone to become pregnant, sperm needs to make it into the vagina (and then through the cervix and into the uterus, etc.), and that could be possible (though unlikely) depending on what position you’re in, she explains. So ejaculating in someone’s butt probably isn’t the best idea if you're not also using another form of birth control.

6. You might want to use a condom on your sex toys or fingers, too.

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"You want to use a condom, whether it’s actually on a human body or a strap on or another enhancement," Levkoff says. "Some people have more than one partner, and sometimes they use the same toy on different people. So you always want to play it safe, and obviously make sure your toys are washed as well. Not everyone gets tested and you want to do the smart thing here."

And if you use your hands for anal play, consider using a condom or glove for that, too.

7. And you may want to use dark sheets or lay down a towel before getting started.

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That way, if lube or bodily fluids leak, you can easily throw these in the wash and won't have to worry about cleaning up the area, Glickman says.

He also says if you use gloves or condoms, don’t put them down. Instead, throw them out immediately and wash your hands after you're done.

8. Stay away from numbing creams.

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"Never use numbing creams," Glickman says. "It’s like getting a shot of novocaine at the dentist and realizing that while you’re eating you can’t feel your face. People have seriously injured themselves because they couldn’t feel what was going on back there."

9. Start off with some foreplay and warm the receiver up with your hands before any type of penetration happens.

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Most people require some foreplay before vaginal penetration becomes comfortable, and it's no different with anal penetration, says Glickman.

"Tickle around the outside of the rectum while going down on your partner, because the more you can engage in anal stimulation erotically the more pleasure you can bring to that part of the body over time," Glickman says. "It’ll make it easier for the receiver to relax and enjoy what they’re doing."

He recommends using your fingers to make slow deep circles around the opening of the butt, like you’re giving a neck rub. You can also use a vibrator around this area if that feels good (just don't put it in the butt).

10. The recipient should always be the one in control.

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“The recipient is going to want to control the speed, the depth of penetration, and the positioning so that the experience can be as comfortable as possible, as well as injury-free,” Van Kirk says. "If the receiver is comfortable and enjoying it then that's only going to make it a better experience for both people involved."

To avoid chaotic shouting of directions, it's probably best to have a talk beforehand to get on the same page, she says.

11. Start off with positions that will make anal penetration easier and more comfortable.

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Glickman recommends starting with your face looking down at the bed and getting on your elbows and knees, rather than hands and knees, because you want your hips higher than your shoulders, so the penetrator has easier access. He also recommends trying the position where the receiver is standing and bent over the bed, or doing cowgirl/cowboy with the receiver straddling so that they can control the depth and pace.

"If you decide to try a position on your back, put a little pillow or folded-up towel under your hips, because it will raise your hips up so it'll be easier access and it will flatten out the spine so that it will be more comfortable," Glickman says.

12. If you’re receiving, try masturbating during penetration to loosen up and make the experience more pleasurable.

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"It's not that women can't enjoy anal play," Van Kirk says. "But it’s smart to stimulate the clitoris or jerk off at the same time that you’re getting penetrated because it will confuse the pain/pleasure receptors in your nervous system, helping you focus on the pleasure, a familiar sensation, which will help you loosen up and better enjoy the overall experience."

13. Using sex toys can make anal play fun, too. Just make sure they're specifically made to go in your butt.

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“Toys make anal play a lot easier,” Glickman says. “They give you more options, which means more ways to enjoy the experience.”

He recommends starting off with a toy that’s made from an easy-to-clean material like silicone (which is nonporous and hypoallergenic), on the skinny side, and smooth with no rough edges or bumps. It should also have a flared base so that the toy doesn’t slip all the way in and get lost in your butt (which people actually go to the emergency room for all the time.)

14. And there's no reason you can't experiment with anal play on your own.

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“Figuring out what turns you on before engaging in anal is only going to help make your experience better,” Morse says. “Start out by having an orgasm so you’re feeling good, and then look into a mirror, take a lubed finger, and test out the area. It’ll help you get a sense of the type of pressure and pacing that you like.”

15. Yes, you can actually rip and injure your ass, so go slow and don't force penetration.

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The tissue near your butt is really sensitive, says Morse, so it's important to go slow so you don't end up with any abrasions or tears in the skin.

"There are so many nerve endings at the opening of the anus that it could feel really good to just hang out at the opening," she explains. "It doesn’t have to be all the way in the first time, in fact I would recommend not going in all the way the first time."

You can even start with a pinky finger and work up from there. "Don't rush anal penetration," she says. "Take it one step at a time, until you start to feel more comfortable. We store so much tension in our asses, that you want to warm it up whatever way you can.

16. It IS physically possible for cisgender women to orgasm from anal penetration.

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Yep, you can have anal orgasms from G-spot stimulation through the butt, says Van Kirk. That said, there's also nothing wrong with you if you don't orgasm this way.

"It's usually luck of the draw, because the G-spot anatomically, depending on the woman, could be more present along that wall and others may not be," she says.

"In most cases people get nervous, tighten up, and don’t enjoy the pleasure, so they can’t orgasm, even if they were one of the lucky ones."

17. And cisgender men can orgasm through stimulation of the prostate.

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The prostate is very similar to the G-spot, says Glickman, and the reason why men like prostate play is because, every time it's touched, it feels like the beginning of an orgasm. But instead of that feeling only lasting for a second, it lasts as long as it's being touched.

"The prostate is around three to four inches inside the rectum and about an inch in diameter," Glickman explains. "It's easier for a partner to find after a little flirting or foreplay because when the prostate is aroused it starts producing fluid that makes it fill up like a water balloon." Transgender women also have prostates, Glickman says, but if you're using hormones to transition, it may shrink and become less sensitive.

When you find it, Glickman recommends stimulating it the same way you would the G-spot. So take G-spot techniques such as the come-hither motion, small circles, windshield wipers, and tapping. He says to make sure you "stroke don’t poke," use your finger-pad not your fingernail, and take it slow and steady, starting with lighter pressure.

18. Syncing your breathing with the penetration could really help make things more comfortable.

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"Deep breathing reduces anxiety and it also relaxes the sphincter muscle, which is key for anal," Morse says. "Every time the receiver breathes in, you can push in a little more, and when they breathe out, you can pull out. The receiver should always be giving cues and letting their partner know when they're ready for more or not."

19. You never want to go from anal sex to vaginal sex without changing condoms and/or washing up thoroughly.

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"Make sure that you're not going from anus to vagina because you don’t want to pass the bacteria back and forth — that is how you get an infection like a UTI," Levkoff says.

"You also want to make sure you don't use too much lubricant, so that it's not dripping down from your butt to your vagina — depending on what position you're in — that will also spread bacteria."

20. Before having anal sex, maybe skip the foods that you know will make you feel like shit (pun intended).

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"People need to understand that sex is messy and things like leakage are going to happen sometimes," Morse says. "But if you have a healthy diet, healthy bowel movements, and you're with a partner who you feel safe with, there's no need to worry or freak out."

She recommends eating a healthy diet and knowing how your body reacts to certain foods. Some people can eat beans and have no problems. Other people will eat a burrito and be like this is the worst possible time to have anal sex. Listen to your body.

That said, there can be traces of fecal matter in the rectum at any time, says Morse, so you might just have to get over that if you're interested in ass play.

21. And you might feel like you need to poop. In fact, you might actually need to poop.

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"The likelihood is that you won’t poop during anal sex," Levkoff says. "But if you do feel like you have to use the bathroom, you can say 'hold on something feels uncomfortable,' excuse yourself, and go to the bathroom."

Anal sex doesn't need to be a sexual activity that you get through all at once. Take your time, take breaks if you need to, and don't be afraid to voice your needs.

22. And yeah, there’s a chance you could let out some weird noises while you're at it.

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Regardless of the type of sex you’re having, bodies are going to make noise and that’s something you just have to own and try to laugh off, says Levkoff.

“Penetration of any kind is going to push air through the body, and air makes funny noises when it’s exiting,” she says. “It’s going to happen. If everyone was constantly worried about farting no one would be intimate with someone ever. It's hard to make sex pleasurable if you’re not in a good mindset.”

23. On that note, mental preparation is just as important (if not more important) than physical preparation.

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“The truth is that our minds have this incredible way of making things less enjoyable for us, if it’s something that we’re not totally into,” Levkoff says. “If we’re nervous or uncomfortable our body shows it — our muscles tighten, we start to clench, we feel anxious, we’re not relaxed and ready anymore, and that means we’re less likely to feel pleasure.”

24. It’s okay to have a glass of wine before starting, but try not to go overboard.

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“A glass of wine can help ease your nerves, but people sometimes take it way too far, get really drunk, and then all they know is that the sex is really painful,” Morse says. “It’s much more productive to do something like breathing techniques, foreplay, or listen to a good playlist to help you relax.”

25. It’s normal to feel awkward talking about anal. Just try to embrace it and make sure you’re communicating honestly with your partner.

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“Awkwardness doesn’t mean you’re not close with your partner or in a healthy relationship, it’s because we’re taught from a young age that sex is a taboo topic,” Levkoff says. “Bringing up to a partner a potential thing that you want to try is going to be uncomfortable regardless of what it is. I think that we forget that a part of sexual intimacy means being vulnerable and being able to have those conversations. That’s a human thing. It’s part of being sexually mature.”

So go ahead and acknowledge the awkwardness up front, she says. Say something like, “Look there’s something that I’ve always wanted to try. I know I shouldn’t feel uncomfortable bringing it up, but I am. Here goes...”

26. Take a shower and clean your junk beforehand to make the experience cleaner and safer for both parties.

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If you don’t have time to take a shower, Morse says you can just wipe down with baby wipes (just make sure the wipes are alcohol-free.)

And while some people prefer to remove the hair around the anus (because some say it’s more sensitive this way), be careful.

27. You can also do an enema beforehand if it will make you feel more confident and comfortable.

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“If you have healthy bowels, and you know you had a bowel movement a couple of hours before, then you shouldn’t worry,” Morse says. “But if you’re going to be more comfortable after doing an enema then go for it.”

She recommends buying the disposable plastic bottles at drug stores, but emptying out the solution that comes with it because you don’t actually need a chemical laxative. Once you have the bottle, rinse it out several times, fill it with warm water (cold water can cause cramping), and follow the instructions for how to use it. Then do it a few times prior to anal sex.

If you don’t want to do an enema, but want to clean the area, Morse suggests using a gentle, non-irritating soap or a baby wipe. You can gently stick a finger tip inside if you really want to clean ~in there~.

28. And if you're going to be using your fingers, please make sure they're clipped and filed.

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Clean, short nails and gloved-up hands are ideal, says Morse, because the tissue around the rectum is really delicate and can be easily injured.

You definitely don't want your fingernails wreaking havoc down there.

29. Look, if your body isn’t feeling it, don't force it.

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“Even some people who are really experienced with anal play will have days where they’re just not feeling it,” Glickman says. “Listen to your body, because if you’re tense, stressed out, angry, tired, or just not in the mood, your body will not be receptive to anal and the sex is not going to be enjoyable.”

You might also want to manage expectations with your partner upfront. "You can say, 'Look, I want to try this with you, but if I don’t like it then I want us to be okay with this being a one-time thing,'" Levkoff says. "It's important to own that up front. If someone says, 'Well if I really like it then I’m going to want to do it more,' then that’s an obvious sign this may not be a relationship you want to be in."

30. A little nervousness is completely normal — just make sure you're actually ready and doing it because you want to.

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Being a little nervous is expected, says Levkoff. Something is about to go up your butt! But if you’re doing this to appease a partner or vice versa then it’s not going to feel good or go so well.

Do it because you want to do it. And stop if you want to stop.

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