If you're new to anal play, you might be thinking, "what?! Why would I want to stretch my butt?!" We hear you. But anal stretching is actually a key component of higher level anal play - and it isn't nearly as scary as it sounds.

Technically, anal stretching is anything that gradually stretches the anus and allows you to insert toys (or a penis) that you couldn't comfortably take in the past. This means that it could technically apply to absolute beginners who've never tried anal experiences before; working up from a single finger to multiple fingers is a type of "stretching."

However, in the world of fetishism, the term usually applies to stretching above and beyond the usual amount of anal stretching required for anal intercourse with an average penis, and training to take on large toys with diameters of over 2.5 inches. Anal stretching can go to extremes (including insertions of extremely large objects), but the anal stretching kink can also just be the enjoyment of the process of gently (and slowly!) training the butt.

Why are people into this?

There are a couple different reasons why people get into anal stretching. Of course, this isn't an exhaustive list, but it gives you a few ideas to familiarize yourself with the kink if you've never met someone who's into it:

Body Modification

Some people initially get into anal stretching because of the opportunity to "modify" their bodies. As the butt is stretched out over time, the ring of the anus may start to look a bit different than an anus that's never explored anal sex. This isn't a bad thing - it's just a change in the body from repeated stretching and muscle training. People who enjoy body modification may be enjoying anal stretching with this "end goal" in mind.

Fantastical Dildos

For others, it's the kinky idea of non-human dildos that gets them off. Maybe you've ever thought about it, but I bet a dragon would have a much larger penis than a human! Multiple manufacturers now provide some pretty wild non-realistic dildo options, and people who want to play with fantasy creatures can now fulfill their fantasies. Anal stretching is used as a training tool, enabling people to take on their fantasy toy of choice.

Intense Sensations

As your body stretches out to accommodate something ever-so-slightly larger than your comfortable spot, it can feel physically intense. For some people, this intensity mentally translates into pleasure. For people into this side of the kink, the fun of anal stretching is all in the feeling of the stretching itself.

Anal Gaping

There's also a subset of people who absolutely love the look of anal gaping. In case you've never heard of it, "gaping" is exactly what it sounds like. After stretching, there may be a short period of time where the anus is wide open. Using large toys for extended periods of time can temporarily cause a gape after the user removes the toys. Don't worry - the gape usually goes away in less than a minute, and it's not a health concern! For those who love that little tiny experience of gaping, though, anal stretching can be one of the ways that they work themselves up to the toys that are large enough to allow them to gape.

Interesting ... so how do people get started with this?

Anal stretching is surprisingly simple to get into. You just need toys, a serious amounts of lubricant, and a good chunk of time and patience.

Whatever you do, do NOT pick up a tube of "Anal Ease" or any type of anal numbing cream. If you're stretching while everything is numb, you're missing out on the pleasure - and any potential warning signs, too. If things are so painful that you require numbing creams, you've gone much too far past your body's limits, and you need to dial it way back. While I'd never recommend anal numbing cream for any type of sexual activity, it's especially dangerous with anal stretching, a kink where you're specifically trying to push your body's limitations. Anal play shouldn't be painful. If it is, stop!

Read: Should We Talk About the Fact That Anal Sex Might Hurt?

What toys should I choose?

Anal stretching is one of those kinks where "one toy" likely won't be enough. While there are definitely toys out there that would suffice as a "one and done" option for stretching, most people enjoy "sizing up" to a new toy once they've stretched themselves out to comfortably take their current toy. It's like a mini reward for themselves – and a physical reminder of their progress.

So, if you're in the market for toys, what should you look for? If you're on a limited budget or only want that "one and done" option, look for a toy that has an extremely tapered design - much like a "cone"-type design. The tip of your "one and done" toy will be extremely small while the base of the toy will be bigger than the tip many times over. You'll be able to insert this toy a little further each session, which will gradually stretch the body. Keep in mind that this "one and done" option can make it easier to accidentally go a bit too far, and it also can be difficult to vigorously thrust without accidentally going that fourth-of-an-inch too far into painful territory. "One and done" toys are best for very calm, very relaxed sessions with very little movement.

If you're into the idea of multiple toys to assist you along your stretching journey, you'll find that your options, well, open up. As with any anal toy, you'll want your toy to have a great, big flared base. Because of your interest in training your body to take larger and larger toys, you might want to ensure the base is noticeably larger than the widest diameter of the toy - just to ensure the toy doesn't accidentally slide inside. Remember: Inserting toys without a wide enough base is how many people end up in the ER.

Once you've narrowed down your dildo options to those that include a flared base, your next step is to understand what size you can currently take. Measure the width of your current favorite dildo that you can use comfortably. If you don't have one, measure the width of your current comfortable finger limit. From there, you'll likely want to find a toy that's one quarter to one half inch (at the widest point) larger than your comfortable size.

Look for dildos that have a tapered tip - that is, the tip of the toy is smaller than the widest point of the toy. This will give you a comfortable way to penetrate yourself with the toy while going extremely slowly, over multiple sessions, to work yourself up to the largest point.

As always, please make sure to take sex toy materials into consideration as well. Silicone sex toys are the "gold standard" of stretchers, but if you're unable to afford the silicone toy you'd like, make sure your alternative is phthalate-free - and preferably cover it with a condom. (Go with the large-sized condoms if you need to!)

Outside of that, the rest of the dildo's features don't matter. Texture, color, design, vibrating features, and more are all up to you. Just keep in mind that certain materials and certain textures may require using a bit more lubricant than other textures and materials.

What about butt plugs?

Butt plugs also have a place in an anal stretching repertoire. Any type of anal penetration can be helpful to anal stretching. However, not every type of anal toy is your best tool. That's exactly where butt plugs come in.

While butt plugs are amazing, most butt plugs are designed with a very small retention area - that area where your anal ring "rests" when the plug is inserted fully into the body. The point of stretching is to help the anal muscles gently relax and "stretch" during gradual penetration. Because most plugs only stretch while they are being inserted, they aren't the best toy for this purpose.

If you're hoping to use an anal plug for stretching purposes, choose your plug with care. The "retention area" - the part of the toy that sits just inside the body after it has been inserted - should be similar in size to the body of the plug itself. As narrow retention areas are what allow plugs to stay in more securely, expect your stretching butt plug to slide out more easily. Plan ahead with stationary activities, a butt plug harness, or tight clothing. Bad Dragon, Square Peg Toys, and other anal aficionado sex toy sites sell plugs that would offer this type of anal plug.

Beginner Tips for Anal Stretching

Anal stretching begins just like any type of anal activity. Before getting into this more hardcore activity, it's important that you experiment with lots of other anal play first. Just enjoy the sensations of anal toys that fit your body perfectly. Learn how to comfortably insert toys, and learn how your body feels about all of the various anal pleasure sensations. For some, experiencing anal sensations in a sexual manner is an entirely different, new thing to learn, and you want to have that aspect already-completed long before you attempt any stretching. Know what feels good to your body - and what doesn't.

Once you're familiar with your own body, it's time to get ready for your stretching session. Just like any type of solo sex play, you'll want to have everything as ready as possible before you begin. Gather a disposable pad to lay on (puppy pads are cheap and work great for this), a washcloth or paper towels, the toys and a bottle of lube. If you need any erotic content, get that set up too.

Now that your space is laid out, you can actually start the process of anal stretching. Thoroughly lubricate the toy. Now go ahead and do it again. Lubrication is important for all anal play, but when you're going into anal play specifically to stretch the body, it becomes even more important. Make sure you're using lube - and using lots of it. Don't be afraid to stop mid-session and apply extra lube anytime you think you need it - and even sometimes when you think you're doing fine.

Once the toy is lubricated, you can go ahead and insert it as usual. Like any type of sexual penetration, it really helps if the body is relaxed. Being in a good and comfortable mental and physical space (along with being sexually aroused!) will really help the body stretch comfortably.

The biggest thing about anal stretching is the rate at which you penetrate. With regular anal sex, you're likely used to the size of the object you're taking, so you can slide in pretty easily. However, the point of stretching is for the toy to be larger than you're used to taking, which means you need to take it slow. There's not going to be a whole lot of intense thrusting - at least when you begin. There may not even be any thrusting at all.

The most important thing to realize is that you likely won't be able to take the entire toy. Accept this before you begin.

I'd recommend that you let the tip slip in, and then very slowly slide the toy in until you feel internal pressure. Once you hit that point, go ahead and let the toy rest. With your other hand, you can browse your porn, read your adult book, or masturbate. Let your body just sit at this point - with the toy slowly stretching out the anal area.

Once you've held that position for awhile and you feel like your body has adjusted, you can try to slide it in a little bit more. If you feel any pain, back right off and go back to where you were. But if your body feels that internal pressure again, go ahead and rest there. You'll just keep repeating this. Once your body doesn't seem to want to stretch anymore (as in, every attempt to go a little deeper results in "ouch!") or you want to be done with trying to stretch, you can do a couple other things with the depth you've achieved.

One thing to do is wiggle the toy. It's not a particularly large or violent motion, but when your body is stretched to the limit, just a little bit of wiggling at the current spot is enough to feel pleasurable. Another option is to pull the toy out, and very slowly insert it back to the same depth where you had been. You'll want to go with very slow, gentle thrusts to avoid accidentally going that centimeter too far into pain, but a lot of people enjoy the gentle stretching of the anal ring as the toy lets them gently close up then stretch open again.

And feel free to orgasm - or don't. It's up to you! You can move on to another sexual activity and orgasm, or you can just save up your sexual arousal for another time. Again, it's your sexuality, and you can play with it how you want!

Depending on how long your session was and how stretched you are, be aware that there are a few after-affects of anal stretching. Your body likely has a lot of lubricant and air in it, so expect some gassiness and a possible bowel movement when you're done. Depending on your body and how it reacts to stretching, you may also find that your body expresses the need for more bowel movements for the rest of the day - or maybe even a bit into the next day. This will all go away, and after doing stretching for awhile, you'll learn what days are good for stretching for you.

Stretching Danger Signs

Like a lot of kinks - and especially with anything that pushes your body to new limits (such as weight training, yoga, or anything else), you can go too far with anal stretching.

The biggest risk is the same risk with heading into anal sex too quickly: the risk of microtears. Tears of the skin of the anus open your body up to the concern of infection. Even if you thoroughly clean your toys, bacteria can still easily slip into the body when there are open wounds in the skin.

The other large concern with anal stretching is the formation of hemorrhoids. Science agrees that anal sex itself isn't likely to cause hemorrhoids. What does cause hemorrhoids, however, is stretching of the anal muscle beyond its limitations - whether that's during regular anal sex, using your smallest toy, or the largest one you own. As the kink around "anal stretching" is the "stretching" part, it can be really easy for a lot of people to accidentally push into dangerous territory.

So what should you be looking for to avoid problems? The biggest one is sharp pain. Anytime during your playtime, if you feel sharp pain, you need to back off - NOW. If you back off and your body feels fine, you can continue - but be careful. If things still feel weird, you likely should call it the end of your session. Sharp pain is an important sign because it's your body's way of telling you something is wrong - and you definitely need to listen when it comes up. Stretching will definitely give you intense feelings of, well, stretching and internal fullness, but as soon as it hits sharp pain, you've gone too far.

The second-largest warning sign is long-lasting soreness. While a bit of residual soreness in the anal area is normal for a day or two after your play, anything past that means you've likely gone a bit too far with your body. Just back off for a bit, give your body a bit of time to relax and, once the soreness is gone for a few days, you can start back into your stretching routine - but take it easy this time!

The last safety tip is this: don't go too quickly at first. With enough anal stretching, you'll learn how your body processes the sensation and the aftermath. From there, you can start to push near those limits. First however, you have to give yourself time to learn what those limits are.

How long will all this take?

Anal stretching is not a fast kink. Don't expect to "see quick results in just two weeks!" Because many people enjoy the stretching itself in addition to the progress they're making, this doesn't bother many people. However, if you're very goal-oriented, you're going to have to start putting things into a different perspective. Having a time frame and a goal in mind is more-likely to cause injury or frustration - and neither of those sound fun for sex!

Instead, accept that anal stretching is going to take a while to achieve. With practice sessions multiple times a week, you could potentially be switching to larger toys every month or so, but again, it really depends on your body, what toys you have, and what the various diameters of those toys are.

Is stretching permanent?

Typically, no. Like most things about the body, the body has a "set point" where it will gradually attempt to normalize itself. This means that if you take a break from your stretching, your body's ability to stretch will gradually decrease. Some people report seeing a noticeable loss of flexibility within as little as a week, but almost all stretchers will say they've noticed a difference within two or three.

This also means that, in case you were worried, you won't be "stretched out" for life. Your body's musculature will gradually tighten up again - especially if you help it out with doing regular kegel exercises.

What other training kinks are out there?

You're in luck! There are a few other similar kinks you might enjoy. In addition to anal stretching, a lot of anal aficionados enjoy anal depth training. While anal stretching is focused on inserting thicker objects, depth training focuses on inserting longer objects.

In addition, if you're someone who has a vagina, the same type of stretching can be done vaginally for vaginal stretching! Make sure any toy used for anal stretching has been sterilized before being used for vaginal stretching, but a similar process can be used with the vagina to stretch the vaginal walls, allowing you to take larger toys.