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It's our first time trying anal sex - do you have any safety tips?

Dr. Shannon Chavez
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Dr. Shannon Chavez is a licensed clinical psychologist and sex therapist with an expertise in female sexual health. She works with women and couples of all ages and backgrounds helping guide them from sexual concerns to sexual empowerment. She currently has a private practice in Beverly Hills, California, and uses a mind-body approach to sexual health wellness and a treatment approach that integrates both physical and psychological needs.

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Q:What's up with anal sex and why do so many men want to try it? Do you have any safety tips for first-time receivers of anal sex?
A: Anal sex is often viewed as taboo but sex surveys show that many couples are curious about exploring the erotic potential of anal play. Some men may be interested in trying anal sex due to the very fact that it is taboo, which ignites curiosity and the desire to explore the forbidden, naughty or kinky aspects of sex. Anal sex can be very pleasurable as the anorectal region is full of nerve endings similar to those in the vagina or penis. Women may find the feelings of pressure and fullness in the rectum during anal sex similar to those in the vagina during penetration.

When a couple first experiments with anal sex, it is important that they have a foundation of mutual consent and trust, and that they communicate about all aspects of the act, including preparation and safety precautions. The first step is to make sure you feel clean and confident. Take a nice hot shower or bath and clean around the anus to reduce the bacteria in the area. You can never completely remove all fecal organisms but cleaning with soap and water will help. An enema can also be used beforehand to clean the rectum. The next step is to use plenty of water-based lubricant. Unlike the vagina, which produces natural lubrication, the rectum does not self-lubricate.

The anus has two sphincter muscles - the outer one can expand when relaxed. The inner one will clamp shut if something attempts to enter it too fast. Massage the anal sphincter to help the anus relax and allow entry. Start slow and gradually increase the size of object used for penetration - you might want to start with a finger or a small sex toy designed for anal play. Remember to use safety precautions such as condoms to protect against STIs. You should also use a condom on any sex toy you insert into the anus. The lack of natural lubrication in the anus can lead to tiny abrasions in the anal lining, opening a direct pathway to the bloodstream and increasing chance of infection. Make sure your partner does not switch between penetrating the anus and vagina without washing thoroughly first. Switching between the two can transport bacteria into the vagina and cause infections.

Last but not least, remember that you, as the receiver, are in control of depth and speed. If you feel pain, stop. The most important step is feeling in control, taking it slow, being fully relaxed, and communicating openly with your partner.

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