We could cite surveys. We could point to prominent stories in major publications. We could talk porn. Heck, we could even show you the search data for our website. But chances are that you already know that when it comes to making a sex bucket list, for many people, anal is where it’s at. And why not? The anus is packed with pleasure-sensitive nerve endings, and its proximity to the G-spot and prostate make it a novel - and often orgasmic - way for people to explore their bodies. Plus, much of the taboo that surrounded this - and just about any other sexual practice that doesn't involve putting a penis into a vagina - is falling away, making this feel like a much more legitimate option for the sexually curious.

But if you haven’t tried anal - or even if you have - you probably have a few questions. So, we reached out to Alicia Sinclair, a sex educator and the founder and managing director of b-Vibe, a sex toy manufacturer that specializes in anal play products, to get some answers.

So … what exactly does anal play involve?

If your partner’s requesting “anal,” you might be wondering exactly what that involves. The answer is … it depends. And while you definitely need to discuss what that’ll mean with your partner, just know that there are plenty of options.

“Anal play can be everything from simple anal massage, to wearing a butt plug, to penetrative anal sex. There’s also pegging and prostate play,” Alicia says.

In other words, there’s a lot more you can do before (or besides) anal sex. That's good news for shy newbies who want to test the waters.

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

This is one of the most common questions we see on the site. The answer is exactly what draws people to anal play: it's a brand-new experience.

“It definitely feels different than putting something in your vagina, especially if it’s your first time” Alicia says. “The feeling has been described as tight, explosive, intimate and a totally new way to experience erotic pleasure.”

Is there such a thing as anal orgasm?

Yup. Anal orgasm is a real thing.

“If you have a vagina, internal anal play may stimulate the anterior fornix zone (also known as the A-spot). Those who have experienced this say it is similar to G-spot orgasm, while others say it’s even more intense. If you have a penis, the stimulation of the P-spot is said to be extremely intense and produces an amazingly strong, full-body orgasm,” Alicia says.

I’ve heard anal can hurt. What can I do to make sure it doesn’t?

Alicia describes the anal sphincter as “strong yet delicate.” That means that coaxing it out to play takes time. The key is to start slow. But, hey, that’s true in a lot of cases, especially when you’re experimenting with something new!

“Start gently, with a finger or beginner-sized anal product and gradually work toward increasingly larger items as your comfort and pleasure allow. The more relaxed and comfortable you are, the easier insertion will become,” Alicia says.

Oh - and don’t forget the lube! The anus is not self-lubricating like the vagina, so it is absolutely essential to use plenty of lube and reapply it frequently to keep things comfortable.

“Take your time, it’s not a race!” Alicia says. “The key to avoiding pain is to go slow and keep things slippery.” (You can also head over to b-Vibe and check out their article on Foreplay and Anal Massage.)

I don’t think I’m ready for anal sex … what’s a good way to start with anal play?

That’s totally OK! If the idea piques your interest, there are lots of fun ways to experience anal pleasure.

“Start with tickling around the outside of the anus with a finger during oral sex, or try sliding a well-lubricated finger in during oral sex or intercourse,” Alicia suggests. “You might also experiment with rimming, which a lot of people enjoy.”

Or, if you decide to try a toy, start small. You can always work your way up later if you enjoy the sensation.

b-Vibe Novice Anal Plug
The b-Vibe Novice Plug makes a great first-time anal toy

Can you really lose stuff up your butt?

Yes, people. The answer is yes. The anus connects to the rectum which connects to the large intestine - and that sucker is about five feet long. Unlike the vagina, which dead-ends at the cervix, when you put something in your butt, it can keep right on going. What that means is that you need to be very picky about what you decide to put up there (unless, of course, a trip to the emergency room is a turn-on for you).

“It’s so important to use sex toys designed for anal play - and not improvised objects,” Alicia says. “Sex toys that can be safely used in the butt should have a flared base and a big handle, loop or pull ring.”

Got it? Good.

What should I look for in an anal toy?

Alicia says there are three key things to keep in mind when it comes to choosing a toy for anal play:

  • Size: Always buy the right size of toy for you. Start small and work you way up to larger sizes. Rushing into something too big can lead to scratching, tearing or damage to anal tissues. Ouch!
  • Safety: Look for toys that are designed for anal play and have a flared base.
  • Materials: Avoid low-grade materials that may be porous or irritate the anal canal. Always buy body-safe, latex-free and phthalate-free products.

I really need to know: Will there be poop?

This is a big one for a lot of people. And the short answer is … maybe. Just keep in mind that any kind of sex is messy and involves bodily emissions. This is just one more kind.

“If you’re really concerned about this, some people find that self-cleaning before anal play allows them to relax and enjoy the experience,” Alicia says. “Basic anal hygiene includes a regular bowel movement followed by a thorough external cleaning with soap and water.” (Get more tips in How can I keep anal sex from getting messy?)

OK. I feel a little more ready. So … what’s the best way to enjoy anal sex?

“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.”

This article is brought to you by our partner, b-Vibe.

Your Top 10 Questions About Anal Play - Answered!