Exploring anal sex
Updated: Apr 26
In exploring anal sex, one finds a most magical place.
For some, it is a place to confront taboos, stretch and satisfy otherwise unquenchable desires, to surrender, and of course, to feel deep pleasure. This can be done through massage, digital penetration, toys, strap ons, vibrators and fisting. For some it’s about the prostate, or being penetrated, or surrendering and for some it's the deep relaxation. The variety of play available to the anus is inspiring.
Anal play is an ancient practice that is coming back into common taste as taboos soften and the stories of inimitable sensations spread. It can be done well and it can also be done very, very badly, with painful and damaging consequences. I would like to describe some of the things I have learned about anal play that may be useful if you're curious to explore it or get better at it, whether on yourself or with someone else.
Why do it?
The anus seems to be a unique erotic organ that is a portal to another place. Given that the anus is the first place in the human body to be developed when in utero, there is perhaps some significance to the experiences it inspires. Sometimes the pleasure is purely carnal, other times it is spiritual and otherworldly and sometimes it is deeply relaxing and blissful.
It's also a fabulously non-gendered space to play with as everyone has an anus. No matter your sexuality, gender or circumstances, it's possible to play in all sorts of ways. Both top and bottom are equally engaged in the exchange, albeit in very different ways.
Overcoming shame and fear is vital. It is a deeply intimate opening into our bodies that is most often associated with poo which can generate shame. Remember that faecal waste is totally normal and healthy. Everyone does it. There is nothing to be ashamed of.
That said, there are a few things you can do to feel more confident about how you present or how you make someone feel comfortable about opening up to you.
If you have a healthy diet, your digestive processes are also healthy. This means minimal discomfort in the gut, which equals more pleasure and more pleasant smells. Light fasting before play also makes the process more comfortable.
Personal hygiene is a total turn on. Bathing well is highly recommended for all intimate encounters.
'Cleaning out' is a routine that can minimise the presence of poo in the rectum. This can be done with small enema devices available on-line or in sex shops that flush out the rectum. If you're more dedicated to deeper cleaning, colonic irrigation is also an option. These practices also help get the mindset on track - a bit like anal foreplay.
If there’s time, a magnesium bath helps soften the muscles and ligaments. Alternatively, or in addition, a full body massage of the bottom begins the unravelling. Pay particular attention to the buttocks, inner thighs and groin as these connect and communicate with the anus.
Naming any distracting thoughts as they come up regarding poo shame can help both top and bottom to acknowledge it and put it to the side.
Most anal play will benefit from digital massage and penetration before using other toys/dildos etc. Use the hands and fingers attentively to connect with and better understand the body you are playing with.
All that said, it's also very easy to slip into anal anytime if you're comfortable with your body or someone else's body. Exploration time in the shower is also a great opportunity to enable play and hygiene in tandem.
The space you play in needs to be as comfortable as possible so that your mind can relax which in turn allows the body to relax.
The room must be warm. The bed or massage table must be comfortable and lined with a towel.
All accessories need to be easily accessible; towels, gloves, lube, toys (pro-tip: slip condoms onto toys wherever possible and you minimise clean up!). Have these set up on a towel or tray and have another towel or tray handy for placing used accessories to minimise any cross-contamination.
Lighting states need to be conducive to relaxation.
Music is a mood maker. What type of mood do you want to set for your anal experience? I'd recommend slower, more ambient music to enable relaxing and dropping in. I also find music with lyrics can be distracting as the mind likes to attach to tangible things such as words. Anal play is an opportunity to enter a sensate rich and timeless state - you can use music to enhance and hold the journey.
I like to position my partner on their back and me between their legs, on the bed or the massage table. This allows easeful communication and reading of body and facial expressions, with lots of eye contact. However, different people like other positions.
Other options include lying on their side with the top leg bent, on their belly with a towel beneath the hips, or on all fours. Let the bottom guide the top into the position that is most comfortable for them.
Slow, deep breathing tells your nervous system that it is safe and therefore the body can relax.
Breathing is also the most important tool as one connects, mentally and imaginatively, with the parts of the body that are being invited to soften and open up. I like to use visualisations of ‘melting’, 'softening' and ‘dissolving’ the tissues of the anus, rectum and pelvis.
Breathing in sync, when there's more than one involved, is also a grounding, uniting practice that generates complicity for the container of trust.
The sphincters are the guardians of the body. Treat them gently and they will respond in kind. There is a myth that anal requires 'stretching’. I prefer to consider it more like ‘familiarisation’. The more the anus becomes accustomed to play, the more responsive it will be.
Golden rule for anal - NEVER EVER FORCE YOUR WAY INTO ANY PLACE. With time and gentle stimulation the body will open up, if it is ready.
We have 2 anal sphincters: the external anal sphincter we have conscious control of whereas the internal anal sphincter is part of the autonomic nervous system and is thus beyond our conscious control. You can feel the internal anal sphincter a couple of centimetres inside the anal opening. It is often likened to a 'calamari tube'. This sphincter will tell you if the bottom is ready to be penetrated. Deep breathing is vital, in combination with slow, deliberate and varied massage techniques
If there is any pain or discomfort, the sphincters feel tight or resist penetration, this is a sign that the anus isn't ready for penetration. Slow down the warm up, get more verbal feedback if playing with someone else, keep the massage going and breathe...
If the sphincters are relaxed, so is the rest of the body. Relaxing the jaw and throat has a domino effect on all the sphincters throughout the enteric nervous system (digestive tract) so keeping these entry portals loose will help keep the anus soft. And keep breathing!
Stroking, vibrating, pulsing are the most common forms of touch. You can explore using the whole hand, just the fingers or a fist - both internally (if possible and welcome) and externally. Keeping the penetration internal enables stimulation of the anus, walls of the rectum and prostate (if you have one to hand ; ). In and out movements need LOTS of lube and a well relaxed sphincter. Gentle and slow is typically more pleasurable than hard and fast. However once someone has been suitably seduced into their pleasure state, increased pressure and pace can work. Again, just keep asking your bottom what they want and what is working for them. The most subtle and nuanced movements translate into massive signals in the bottom so all touch must be fully present and attuned.
Anal play can involve prostate milking (for those that have them) and/or orgasmic states that resemble 'kundalini' orgasms which are more like full body orgasms, sometimes with a much longer duration than a typical genital orgasm. It's also possible to keep peaking and plateauing through pleasure cycles infinitely, depending on the energy of all participants.
Withdrawing stimulus from the anus is just as important a step as entering. I find that applying pressure with the flat of my hand is comforting and a strong signal that the anus - and indeed the entire human - can relax into the post play bliss that often accompanies satisfying anal experiences. Because the nervous system has been directly engaged it is common to feel slightly high, lightheaded, vague etc. so be sure to provide your bottom the aftercare they need. Holding someone really helps them to ground and transition from that altered state back into states of 'normal' perception.
There is so much variation available with anal play. The keys are to slow down, allow time, breathe, never force it and keep communication flowing. With practice, I hope you find the tools that work for you to merge into the sublime...