Updated: DECEMBER 8, 2021
Reviewed by Dr. Laura McGuire
on December 7, 2021

Painal is a portmanteau of the words pain and anal is a slang term for rough, uncomfortable anal penetration or intercourse. This specific kind of anal sex is more often associated with performative sex, particularly in pornography. However, it can also be a part of personal sex. Painal can be associated with power exchange, pain play, role play and consensual non-consent forms of sex.

The practice is complicated, potentially emotionally and physically dangerous. It should only be done by advanced kinksters who understand all the risks involved and who have put in place multiple layers of health and mental safety measures. Because it is such an extreme form of sexual activity, this is a situation where the receiver should be the one who suggests it and that they must be 100% enthusiastic about it. There is no room for even the slightest hint of coercion.

When using the term painal, consent between participants is implied. A painal scene is characterised by sexual pleasure being limited to and focussed on the penetrating partner. They are the only person enjoying the act. The receiving partner does not receive pleasure from painal activities and will cry, try to get away and express both physical and emotional hurt. Because painal is situational and often pre-planned, emotional and physical expression is predominantly predetermined as a negotiated part of the scene—even when the emotions and physical pain is very real.

Any person, regardless of sexuality or gender can participate in painal activities. Penetration can happen in a variety of ways, including by penis, sex toy, fingers, fists, objects and potentially more. In painal scenes, a common variant is simulating the first time the receiver is participating in anal sex. In power exchange scenes, the Dominant forces the submissive to receive anal penetration. These types of role or character adoption heighten the experience.

When the painal scene being played out is associated with role play or power exchange, both the penetrator and receiver are prepared for anal sex, including using lubricant and stretching and stimulating the anus to ensure ease of insertion. However, in situations of pain play, participants may choose to not use lubrication or other preparatory techniques before penetration. This technique carries with it potential health risks including anal and rectum tearing, as well as the higher potential for sexually transmitted infection sharing.

More About Painal

Painal is a very controversial form of anal sex—a type of sex that is still teetering on the fence between taboo and normalized. From an outsider point of view, even when it is understood to be consensual, painal is an extreme, niche sexual activity.

If you or your partner are interested in exploring painal, prepare yourself for the potential of a long, detailed conversation. Actually, prepare for many talks to negotiate activities, set boundaries, understand safewords and be prepared for what to do in case a medical situation arises.

Even with full consent and enthusiasm, you and your partner will need to discuss the experience before and after and you should also stop and check in during a painal session to ensure everything and everyone is going according to pain.

One of the reasons painal has become a known activity is its portrayal in porn. It could be argued that painal is actually more of a porn thing than it is a real life phenomenon. That kind of thinking undercuts the reality that people will think of and try almost anything sexual, and some will like it, no matter how extreme. That said, part of the appeal of painal is the visual portrayal of dominance and humiliation.

One important note: painal is not inherently the same as painful anal sex. Painal is intentional of the appearance of painful anal sexual activity. Loving, happy, considered, non-painal anal sex can also be painful—even when it isn’t intentional.

Regular ole anal sex itself doesn’t have to be painful, and there are many tips and tricks that can be used to minimize this risk. Unfortunately, for some folks, anal sex may always be uncomfortable, but hopefully, relaxing, preparing, using lube and taking your time can reduce this possibility and allow the significant pleasure of anal play be possible.


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