Whether you love it, hate it, or haven't yet tried it, August is Anal Sex Month. Yes, there’s a whole month dedicated to the fine (and fun!) art of backdoor play. Anal sex provides a completely different sensation than vaginal play and it's something that can be very pleasurable – if done correctly.

Anne Hodder, ACS, a multi-certified sex and relationships educator, says a successful anal experience is most often the result of communication, relaxation, preparation, lubrication and (at least initially) gentle stimulation. “Anal is something you and your partner should discuss and plan for while sober and clothed,” she says. “Discuss expectations and concerns.”

Lube, by the way, is essential for anal sex. The anus is much tighter than the vagina, and it doesn’t naturally self-lubricate like the vagina does – no matter how turned on you are. A lot of people lean toward silicone-based lubes here because they tend to last longer, but water or oil-based can work as well - just make sure that what you choose plays well with the material of the toy or condoms you may be incorporating into your play.

Now that we have that out of the way, on to some tips to make anal play the pleasurable experience you're probably looking for. I talked with three porn stars to get their take on how to best approach anal sex. Here’s what they had to say:

Do Your Prep Work

Good butt hygiene is important and wiping your ass with toilet paper doesn’t make for a clean anus. “For anal prep, a lot of people like to clean out their butt hole, to reduce the chance of mess,” says Riley Reyes. The easiest and most common way to do this is with a disposable enema like you can buy at any drugstore. Before using one, Reyes advises emptying out the liquid that comes in it (it’s a saline laxative that will make you have to poop) and replacing it with warm water.“Gently insert the tip into your rectum while sitting over a toilet. After 15-30 seconds, release the liquid,” she says. “Repeat this until the water comes out clear and make sure you push all of the water out!” You’ll be much more confident with butt play when you are clean.

Riley ReyesRiley Reyes

Read: How to Do an Enema Before Anal Play

Be patient

The most important tip for successful anal is patience. “Don't be obsessed with the goal of anal intercourse during the first session,” Reyes says. “Incorporate fingers, butt plugs, and anal toys into sexual play in the days and weeks leading up to it. Let anal sex be about the journey, not the destination.”

Size Matters

When it comes to the butt, size matters, especially for beginners. So, don't get too ambitious - you can always go bigger later!

“Get a very small toy and put it up your butt while you are masturbating. Just get a feel for it and see if you like it,” porn star Lance Hart tells me.

Lance HartLance Hart

Relax

The key to anal sex is relax, relax, relax! “Clitoral stimulation with a vibrator can really help a girl to relax in the beginning, as well as increase the overall enjoyment,” says Brooklyn Chase.

Brooklyn Chase

Include Other Stimulation

While doing your anal training, whether with toys or your fingers, Reyes suggests incorporating some clitoral stimulation or penis stimulation depending upon your hardware. “It helps you to relax and open up, as well as form a positive association with butt stuff,” says Reyes.

Go Slow - and Don't Forget the Lube!

It's important to communicate with your partner, start slowly and use copious amounts of lube. “Going slowly and easing things in, past the sphincter, can make or break the female enjoyment,” says Chase. “Once the sphincter is stretched open, anal is smooth sailing.”

For Chase, starting in a position like missionary or spoon makes it much easier to relax and gives her more control. “Before I knew any better, I assumed doggy was the only way to do it, but boy was I wrong,” says Chase. “Cowgirl, or girl-on-top, is also a great way to start out, as it gives the woman total control of the speed of insertion.”

Reyes also suggests using plenty of lube around the anus and whatever you are inserting. “If you want internal lubrication, you can even use a 'personal lubricant launcher' to get some inside.”

Plan for Some Mess

If your anus isn’t perfectly pristine and clean, don't panic. There’s a big difference between practicing good hygiene and having some leakage. “Even on professional porn sets, we know there will sometimes be a little mess associated with anal,” says Reyes. “Just keep some wipes by the bed, next to your lube, and you can tidy up quickly without having to get embarrassed or grossed out.” Or, you can extend sexytime and hop into the shower with your partner for cleanup.

You're Not a Porn Star

There's plenty of hot anal in porn, but Hart doesn’t think anal sex enthusiasts should compare themselves to the porn they watch. “Keep in mind, when we make porn, we need to show actual penetration, which means we have to open up for the camera and get fucked with big things. This doesn’t always feel great,” he says.

“In porn, prep for an anal scene includes a lengthy and unpleasant routine of enemas, very little food, and anti-diarrhea medicines,” shares Chase. “In real life, this is totally unnecessary, so don't be afraid to be spontaneous. Have fun and don't sweat those details – the key is to relax, communicate, start slow and use lube!”

The Bottom Line on Butt Love

If you’re curious about anal play, we hope these pro tips will inspire you to explore this oft-overlooked and stigmatized place of stimulation. The rectum and anus are filled with so many rich nerve endings waiting to be fingered, fucked, plugged, pegged and probed. Why deny yourself pleasure from an alternative pleasure source? If you identify as a cis male, the P-spot (or prostate spot, named for the walnut-sized gland located below the bladder in front of the rectum) is a hotspot for all the good feelings as well. If you’re weirded out about having stuff in your butt, you may want to reconsider and face your fears. (And if you’ve tried it and still don’t like it, that’s OK. You get a gold star for giving it a shot!) Take it slow, use lots of lube and be sure to use a barrier method for protection, because many STIs can be spread via unprotected anal. And if something doesn’t feel quite right, stop immediately. Anal sex should never, ever hurt. There’s nothing worse than having a painful experience to make someone decide never to try butt sex again. Because when it’s done right, it can be glorious.