Let's talk about anal stimulation.

I love anal sex. Whether it's with a finger, sex toy, penis, or strap-on, my (back) door is always open—with consent, of course, and plenty of lube. I get that anal sex isn't for everyone. A lot of people have a less-than-stellar first-time experience, usually due to a lack of lube and/or an overzealous lover. And then there's the ick factor. Sure, anal sex can be messy, but there are ways to mitigate it by douching beforehand and using a towel or a throw designed to soak up lube and liquid.

The anus, the external opening of the rectum, is rich in nerve endings. Anal, rectal, and perineal stimulation will affect the genitals, no matter the gender.

Read: First Time at Anal Sex? Here's the Ultimate Guide

Here are five wonderful ways you can stimulate the anus.

1. Fingering

Anal fingering is exactly what it sounds like—sticking a finger (or fingers) into the anus for all sorts of feel-good pleasure. No matter your gender, every asshole has an abundance of nerve endings at the entry and inside. And if you have a penis, you're in for an extra special treat, since you have a prostate that can benefit from digital stimulation.

"Lots of folks dive right into penetration when using fingers in someone's anus, but it is good to remember that there are a lot of nerve endings on the outside, as well," reminds Searah Deysach, a longtime sex educator and owner of Early to Bed.

To get started, Dr. Jill McDevitt, Resident Sexologist for CalExotics, suggests using a lubed up finger with clipped nails or a finger cot (which is like a finger condom) to glide back and forth and around the anal opening.

"Tease your partner by putting a little pressure on the opening but then continue to stroke the outside for a bit," says Deysach. "When they are good and ready, you can insert your finger, checking in with your partner to make sure this feels good for them (and remember you can never use too much lube)."

Once inside, McDevitt advises pulsing your finger in an in and out, or up and down motion.

If your partner has a prostate, Deysach suggests making a come-hither motion with your finger so that you are stroking towards the front of their body. "This gives you a chance to put pressure on their prostate which many people find amazing," she says.

Read: The 5 Myths of Prostate Massage

2. Analingus (or Rimming)

Analingus, or rimming as it's more commonly known, is the act of orally pleasuring the anus. This can involve licking, sucking, kissing, or any other act that orally stimulates the anus.

If you want to eat ass, McDevitt suggests spreading the cheeks, and/or finding a position that naturally spreads the cheeks (like the receiving partner in doggie with their forehead to the bed), for easier access. Next, alternate different tongue movements like swirling your tongue, wiggling it, and flicking.

McDevitt encourages butt lovers to use their whole mouth. "Ungulate your lips and vibrate your mouth with a 'blowing raspberries' type sensation," she says.

Deysach reminds when rimming, it is a good idea to use a dental dam so that you are making sure you are not transmitting STIs. "Lube up the dam on the receiver's side and maybe put a drop of flavored lube or honey on the licker's side for some motivating flavor," she suggests. "Again, I always like to start with more of a tease, using lighter strokes over a bigger area before making the strokes more intense or using your tongue to slip inside."

Read: Tossing That Salad: The Ins and Outs of Rimming

3. Penetrative Anal Sex

A lot of people equate anal sex with a penis entering the anus, but there's a big wide world of anal pleasure out there that doesn't require external genitalia. "Penetrative anal sex can take many forms—from fingers to penises, to toys or even whole fists," says Deysach.

If you're thinking about exploring anal play with a sex toy, Kayla Lords, sexpert for Jack and Jill Adult, advises always to start smaller than you think you can handle. For beginners, I like small, smooth butt plugs in simple shapes. Deysach iterates to use plenty of lube, go slow, and make sure you are checking in with your partner frequently. Water-based lube is best for sex toys. Otherwise, I prefer silicone lube, especially since the rectum doesn't self-lubricate for friction.

Anal play should not hurt, and if it does, you need to slow down or stop. (Friendly reminder: It's OK to say "no," aka, withdraw your consent at any time—you don't have to have a reason.)

"Not everyone is comfortable taking something the size of a human penis inside, so don't pressure anyone to receive any play if they are not into it," says Deysach. "You can certainly work your way up to bigger things with toys and smaller body parts, but just make sure you are only doing what is fun and safe." If the goal is to take bigger insertables in your butt, eventually, Deysach recommends getting a series of graduated sex toys and practicing at your own pace.

Just like other sex acts, McDevitt says to do it until, and as long as it feels good—there's no goal other than that. "Sometimes, with anal sex, people can get very goal-oriented, and this is what can often lead to pain or discomfort." Go with what feels good.

Read: 7 Anal Sex Mistakes You Don't Want to Make

4. Combo (or Blended) Orgasms

OK, so here's the thing. When you venture into anal exploratory area, it opens up so many fun new opportunities for pleasure. On rare occasions, I've been able to orgasm with partners by penetrative anal sex alone. More reliably, I can cum when other erogenous zones are brought into play.

The clitoris, vagina, vulva, penis, scrotum, nipples, buttocks, lips, and breasts are just some of the additional play areas that can be stimulated with hands and/or mouth while employing an anal toy, notes McDevitt. (Or a penis, if you prefer.)

"If you are using a butt plug or toy, it is really easy to let it do the anal stimulation while you tend to someone's vulva, penis, or another fun spot," says Deysach. "If you are giving someone a blow job, a finger in the rear can be an easy way to hit two places at once." The same goes for fingering a vulva. "Just be sure the finger that goes in their butt doesn't make its way back to their vulva or vagina (never go from butt to mouth or vagina/vulva!)," reminds Deysach. If you are tending to someone's ass, she suggests asking them to touch themself while you are doing your thing. "This combo of sensations can lead to explosive orgasms!"

For people with prostates and penises, dual-stimulation of the prostate and head of the penis can be mind-blowing. Jack Prenter, CEO and founder of Adore Passion, suggests gentle stimulation of the prostate with your fingers in a "come hither" motion, while stroking or sucking on the head of the penis causes your nerves to fire, letting the dopamine flow.

"The intense and tight feeling of prostate stimulation amplifies the pleasure of the orgasm and can allow for multiple orgasms if you continue to stimulate the prostate gently after orgasm," says Prenter.

Read: Explore the Unforgettable Blended Orgasm

5. Sex Toys

Deysach says the best toys for anal play have a broad flanged base. "Run away from any toy that does not have a base to stop it from slipping inside of you," she says. "The anus is powerful, and I have heard many real tales of folks losing things in their butt, and it is not fun."

She notes it's also essential to think about the material it's made of. If it is not 100% silicone, glass, or steel, you will not be able to sterilize it, and it can harbor bacteria. Typically, Deysach recommends 100% silicone toys for comfort and ease of clean up.

And if you have a prostate, look for toys with a hook or bend to put pressure on that spot. "If you want some in-out action, look for longer toys, perhaps ones with bumps for more sensation," she says. "If you want to pop a plug in while you go about your business or explore other erogenous zones, look for a toy with a skinny neck and a wide base."

Read: 5 Ways to Use Butt Plugs to Take Your Sex Life to the Next Level

Last but not least, Deysach reminds us that our eyes are sometimes bigger than our holes, and toys that are too big are no fun, so invest in a training kit or start small.

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