Anal sex

Your Top 10 Questions About Anal Play – Answered!

Published: OCTOBER 5, 2023
Anal play is best when it’s pre-planned, participants are empowered with education, and there is plenty of time to relax and just enjoy the experience.
Over the last few decades, anal sex has been on the rise - especially among heterosexual couples. According to the CDC, about 35% of women and about 38% of men stated they've had anal sex with an opposite-sex partner.

But that leaves 65% of women and 62% of men who haven't!

People's reasons for choosing to (or not choosing to!) explore the world of anal sex are their own, but if you're curious about it, I think you should be able to get the information you need to figure out if it's for you.

So let's break down some of the top questions about anal play out there to satisfy your curiosities. Because who doesn't like more knowledge about sex?

What does anal play include?

"Anal play" is a general term that encompasses everything anal-related. If it has to do with the entrance to the butt, the term "anal play" would cover it. That's why it's so important to clarify what your partner means if they say they're looking for "anal play." They could mean rimming - or they could mean stretching out with a soda-can-sized dildo!

As a general term, anal play includes:

  • Touching the anus with fingers and no penetration
  • Touching the anus with fingers, including penetration
  • Licking the anus with the tongue
  • Wearing a butt plug
  • Sliding a dildo into the butt
  • Holding a sex toy against the entrance without penetration
  • Slipping a prostate massager into the butt while doing other foreplay activities
  • Pegging
  • A focus on actively milking the prostate
  • Anal intercourse with a biological penis
  • Anal intercourse with a penis extender
  • Anal training sessions with gradually larger toys

As you can see, the list of what "anal play" can encompass is huge, and it's only limited by safety and your own imagination. Make sure to have an open conversation with your partner if you're adding "anal play" onto tonight's exploration list.

What is anal sex?

Anal sex, otherwise known as anal intercourse, is the act of penetrating the anus of a partner. This is often done with a penetrating partner's biological penis, but it could also be done with a strap-on harness and dildo or penis extender.

While the term "anal sex" specifically refers to anal intercourse, some people may use it interchangeably with any type of anal play. Some people may also use it to refer to any type of anal penetration including fingers or toys.

What does it feel like to put something up your butt?

Just like people would describe a 5-star, award-winning chili differently, anal sex feels a bit different to everyone too.

In general, people say receiving anal penetration can feel like an intense amount of pressure with a deep feeling of fullness that's impossible to replicate on any other spot on the body.

For the penetrating partner, people say anal sex feels like an extra tight orifice that leads into a different "texture" inside. A lot of people really focus on the snug entrance of anus; this can feel very different for people who are accustomed to vaginal sex.

One Reddit user explains it like: "If you aren’t prepared it’s uncomfortable and can feel like a stinging feeling. When you begin to relax it’ll be more of like you want to poop. But when you are relaxed and prepared, it feels like an uncontrollable pleasure. I can’t shut up during it it’s that good. And then you’ll basically feel it later in a good way. Kind of like your prostate is reminding you of that great feeling throughout the day."

Some people also describe it like one of the most satisfying poops you've ever taken in your life - only the sensation goes on and on. Like I said, everyone has their own way to describe the same experience!

If you're simply playing outside the hole, with no penetration, you can expect a slippery finger around the entrance feel like petting an ultra-sensitive spot that can leave your hairs standing on end in the best of ways. Even for people who don't enjoy anal penetration, touching the entrance can still feel amazing!

Is anal sex safe?

Yes ... and no.

Like all things in sex and life, there's no 100% safe thing out there. During vaginal sex, someone can overexert themselves and have a heart attack - or you can accidentally break the penis. (Yes, that's real). There are sexually transmitted infections, and most vagina-owners know the unfortunate reality of UTIs after intercourse.

Some of those same risks transfer over to anal sex. As always, there are things we can do to mitigate some of those risks, but they're risks all the same.

Anal sex risks and risk mitigations include:

  • Anal tears. Rough anal sex, minimal warm-up, and lack of lube can cause small anal tears. This can lead to infections of the tissue. While this can also happen during vaginal intercourse, there's a lot more bacteria in the bum, so it's more likely to lead to infection from anal play. Playing gently, ensuring your body is slowly stretched out to the size you need, and using lots of lube can reduce this. These tears can also lead to a higher transmission of STIs.
  • Sexually transmitted infections. Unprotected anal sex can still spread STIs including chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis, herpes, HIV, HPV, and syphilis. Use safer sex barriers and STI testing to reduce that risk.
  • Irritating existing hemorrhoids. Just like pooping and sitting can irritate hemorrhoids, sliding something in and out can too. Seek treatment for your hemorrhoids and make an educated choice as to whether anal sex is comfortable for you right now.
  • Transmission of anal and fecal bacteria. Stuff in the butt can include intestinal parasites, bacteria, and hepatitis, so it's important that you clean up before anal sex and reduce spread after sex. Using condoms that are instantly thrown away and heading straight into the shower can reduce bacteria spread to your bedspreads or pillows. Any lube that has been used in the body for anal sex should also be treated like it may have bacteria in it. Ass to mouth is a risky activity, and you should treat it as such if it's of interest.
  • Vaginal infections. While this is rare, anal bacteria and lube can "drip" from your anal playspace into the vagina. This is the same risk vulva-owners have every time they wipe after defecating. Try to avoid dripping lube, always clean up before switching to vaginal sex, and choose sex positions that help gravity pull lube away from the vaginal entrance.

Can you really lose stuff up your butt?

It sounds like it should be a gag on a TV show, but it isn't: it's reality. You really can lose stuff up the butt.

Your anal entrance connects to the rectum, which further connects to the large intestine. The whole network is about five feet long, and your small 4" butt plug doesn't stand a chance against that. Once that toy is inside the body, it could continue to work its way up the rectum and intestine well beyond what you could get out with your hands - even if you were into fisting.

That's why it's so important that any anal sex toys you use have a flared base. This wide base "anchors" the sex toy outside of the butt, ensuring the toy can easily be gripped and removed when you're ready. This prevents you from going on a fishing expedition ... up your bum.

Losing a plug up the butt can be an evening's worth of frustration - and often an embarrassing ER visit - so only slide things up the butt that can easily be gripped and removed. We promise, basic body-safe, anal-specific toys have gotten very affordable over the last decade - it's just not worth playing with things that aren't made for your butt. (The Blush Temptasia Bling plug is less than $15, and the Blush Naughty Candy Hearts and Blush Be Me 3 Anal Beads are less than $20. Compared to the cost of an ER visit, it's practically a steal!)

Does anal sex make your butt bigger?

No. Thousands of squats and weight lifting can, but anal sex will not make your butt bigger. (That'd be the coolest life hack ever, though!)

However, lots of anal sex and anal stretching can strengthen the muscles of your anal entrance "ring" itself, leading to a slightly different appearance. We're talking about years and years of regular, stretching anal sex, though - not just the occasional dalliance into the world of anal penetration.

Does anal sex hurt?

It doesn't have to!

The unfortunate reality is that a lot of people go into anal sex assuming it's going to function the same as vaginal sex.

And honestly, if you think back, a lot of people report that their first vaginal sex experiences hurt too!

But anal sex is different than vaginal sex in a lot of ways. For one, the butt doesn't offer any lubrication, so you have to bring your own. (And if you don't, ouch!)

For another, anal penetration is a brand new experience for most people. This means the hole is, literally, not stretched out enough to fit something that's 1.5" in firm diameter.

Finally, a lot of people tense up for anal sex. They don't know what to expect, and they've heard it's painful. Weirdly enough, that's a self-fulfilling prophecy! If you're tightened up to begin with, it's going to hurt to try to slide something into a squeezed hole. (The same thing can happen vaginally with people who live with vaginismus - and yes, intercourse can be painful then.)

That all being said, anal sex can be uncomfortable when you're brand new to it - even if it isn't painful.

If you've lived your entire life with the butt as an exit-only zone, your body has only experienced the sensations of things leaving it. So when you do a whole switcharoo and start to put things in it, you're dealing with a whole new host of sensations that are entirely unfamiliar to the nerve endings that are really, really sensitive back there.

This is why a lot of people find that anal sex feels like pooping - or like they need to poop. It's because our brains have that automatic response after years of learned sensations. It goes "This sensation means bathroom time".

People who love anal sex report that this goes away as you continue to explore anal sensations. Your body starts to associate sexual arousal with the sensations, and you can train it to understand the purpose of this new, unfamiliar stimulation.

How can I ensure anal doesn't hurt?

If you're worried about the pain, you're not alone. In fact, it's one of the most common concerns about anal sex. When treating anal sex like vaginal sex, it can be painful - and people who have experienced that pain are very vocal about it (because it DOES really hurt!). It has given anal sex a reputation for pain, even if that isn't the case for most people when done correctly.

The popularity of this topic means that Kinkly has a whole breadth of advice for you. Check out:

And here's a cheat-sheet to pain-free anal sex:

  • Use small toys to start. If anal intercourse is on a docket, a lot of couples like to skip straight to trying to slide a biological penis into the bum. After all, it works on vaginas - why not butts? This is one of the biggest pain factors in anal sex; the butt needs a lot more time to slowly stretch itself to wider sizes. Use fingers and anal toys for months before you attempt to insert a biological penis.
  • Even after you've had anal intercourse, you still need to use small toys or fingers ahead of time. If you have anal intercourse often, your entrance will accommodate larger sizes easier, but it still takes a bit of warm-up time every time.
  • Use lots and lots and lots of lube! Unlike the vagina, the butt doesn't have any of its own natural lubrication. You have to BYOL - Bring Your Own Lube. Slather everything that goes into the butt with lube - and then add even more than you think you'd need.
  • Have so much patience. Especially when you're new to anal intercourse, it's not rare for it to take an hour (or more!) of foreplay and stretching to ever think about actually achieving pain-free intercourse. The foreplay and stretching gently relaxes the receiver's body, making it much-more-likely to be pain-free. A lot of anal pain comes from doing too much, too soon, so approaching anal pleasure with a goal-free mindset can drastically change how it feels.

Are anal orgasms real?


Just like other erogenous zones, you can milk enough pleasure out of the nerve endings of the anus to experience anal orgasms.

For most people, blended anal orgasms are the go-to by partnering anal stimulation with other stimulation that's already orgasmic like penis stroking or clitoral stimulation.

However, some people are able to achieve orgasm by anal stimulation alone. This can be even easier for prostate owners or people who are able to indirectly stimulate the G-spot through the interior anal walls.


Read: The Best Sex Positions for Prostate Orgasm
Others, however, never find their fit with anal-only orgasms, and that's OK too! Your anatomy and your preferences can determine whether that's going to happen for you - and there's nothing wrong with enjoying the explosive potential of blended orgasms with that added anal stimulation. It's all about pleasure, and if you're getting pleasure, you're doing it right; who cares if it's from one spot, two spots, or three?

Don't fret if you aren't finding anal orgasms on your first tries, though: especially as you're getting used to all of the new sensations, it can be hard for your body to interpret all of these sensations as orgasmic. Remember, it's been using this zone as a function for bodily waste all these years; it's going to take it awhile to figure out it can also be used for orgasms!

Does anal sex smell?

Anal sex doesn't have to smell ... but let's be honest here: it can. You're playing in an area where poop might be present, and if it happens to be a time where it's there, some of that residue can become part of your penetration.

Once it's outside of the body, this can make some of that "smell" you might be thinking of.

Luckily, if it's bothering you, it's a relatively simple fix. Just get up and give the penis or dildo a quick wash. If you're using a condom, it's even easier; just take the condom off in another room and replace with a fresh, clean condom.

For most people, anal sex will not have a smell often. It will probably be a rare occurrence. If you know that this would bother you, you might be a good candidate for pre-play enemas or eating a healthier, fiber-rich diet for days leading up to any expected anal play.

Anal Play and IBS - Why It Doesn't Have to Be a No Go

Why do men like anal sex? Do women like anal?

One of the coolest things about sexuality is how unique we all are. One person might be turned on by balloons, while another person thinks a blindfold in the bedroom is going too far. Another person might orgasm while barking like a dog, while another might only be able to orgasm when in complete darkness.

There's a saying in the kink community that says "Don't yuck someone else's yum". And that's just it: people of all genders love anal play for a variety of reasons, but not everyone is into anal play. The potential mess, the sensations and the prepwork can make anal play a no-go for some people - and that's OK! We all have our own preferences in dining and in sex.

For people who do love anal play, some of the reasons people fall in love with it include:

  • The visual. For a lot of people, the gentle curves of the butt are simply a hot view. Think of all of the jokes you've heard about people "bending over". Simply getting to bask in these views, all while enjoying orgasmic sensations, can make anal sex worth it for a lot of penetrating partners.
  • The sensations. The anus is packed with nerve endings, and like most erogenous zone nerve endings, it can simply feel good to stimulate them. If it feels good, it feels good.
  • The prostate. If you're someone who has a prostate, anal sex is one of the easiest ways to stimulate it. While there are ways to stimulate the g-spot and p-spot without penetration, sliding something inside targets the prostate firmly and directly, which can be all the reason some people need to enjoy anal sex.
  • Anal orgasms. If you're particularly turned on and really love the sensations you're receiving, anal sex can result in anal orgasms - or at the very least, blended orgasms! Adding more sensations to the slow climb of orgasm can make everything feel even better!
  • The stretching discomfort. Some people genuinely enjoy the slight discomfort that anal sex offers. Think of it like deep stretching in yoga. Yes, it can be uncomfortable, but that same discomfort can also be pleasurable. Some people simply enjoy the anal stretch for itself while others might enjoy the idea of "enduring" that anal stretch for the sake of their partner's enjoyment.
  • The taboo. For many, mainstream messaging has made anal sex a "prohibited" zone. Some people simply love anal sex because they've been told they're not supposed to do it. Getting to enjoy something intimate, private and "unreasonable" with someone can add a taboo thrill that makes the entire experience worth it.

How can I get started with anal sex?

Has your interest in anal sex been piqued? There's a whole lot of pleasure to explore in this area - even if you never go anywhere near penetration!

If you'd like to learn more about how to make anal pleasure and anal sex fantastic, these resources offer great how-to guides:

Mistress Kay

Mistress Kay has a fondness for all things sexual. With a house that's quickly running out of room for all of her reading and vibrating pleasures, she spends her free time reading, writing, and learning about the sexual universe with her partners. She can be reached at Kinky World.

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