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Is Anal Sex Safe? Let’s Get to the Bottom of the Facts

The truth is that the short answer can be yes and no. It is “yes”, IF you follow the right safety measures, BUT “no” if you do not. There are even times when, despite your best efforts, that something can go wrong, which is true of any type of intercourse. Does this mean that you should be afraid or dissuaded from anal sex? No, this means that anal sex should be taken as seriously as any other form of sex and that both partners, or if you are wanting to experiment with anal masturbation, should take proper precautions in order to potentially enjoy the experience to its fullest. Aside from posing serious health risks, anal sex can be very unpleasant for one, or both parties, when proper preparation is not taken.

Defining Anal Sex; Why do It There?

Many arguments have been used on both sides of the debate as for why people should and should not engage in anal sex. Technically, the only time anything can be classed as wrong is when it is not consensual, other than that it is all a matter of opinion.

People who engage in anal sex may choose to do so for a variety of personal reasons, which include but are not limited to general sexual orientation, curiosity, or even a lack of other venues to express sexual frustrations. The reason they may continue to do so beyond the psychological motivation is that there are many nerve endings in and around the anus that can make it a very erogenous source of stimulation. For males, the prostate can be stimulated through probing via anal penetration, either with a penis, finger, or appropriate sexual device. Stimulating the prostate has been dubbed “the male G-Spot”, so it is natural to understand why both homosexual and heterosexual males will seek to engage in some form of prostate stimulation via anal penetration. But what about anal sex and women? Women also have the same external sensations in regards to stimulation, but have a different experience when it comes to penetration. Anal penetration can be pleasurable for women, but orgasm still requires clitoral stimulation as well.

Important Facts to Remember for Safety

According to many medical experts, including those behind WebMD and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), there are the same, and sometimes higher, potential risks involved with anal sex in regards to transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. In addition to these, there is a higher risk of infection and injury relating to the rectum, anus and improper lubrication. The epidermis, or skin, that lines the rectum is far unlike that of the vagina or the exterior of your body. It is thinner and less resilient to being torn, and thus can be damaged more easily by the insertion of foreign objects or body parts. It is a structure that is anatomically designed for fecal matter to pass one way, out of the body. The less durable nature of the epidermal layer, combined with a lack of natural lubrication, and the naturally increased presence of bacteria, make the additional risk of infections the biggest safety concern.

Anal sex, when attempted without proper preparation and lubrication, or if done to vigorously, can lead to anal fissures (tearing), infection, perforations (holes that require surgery to repair), damage to the sphincter muscle, and in rare, severe cases can lead to anal prolapse (where part of the rectum pushes out of the body and requires immediate emergency medical attention). However, most, if not all of these medical problems can be avoided with the following safety precautions:

  • The biggest and most important rule to anal sex safety is lubrication. A good water-based lubricant should be your first priority. Ample lubricant should be worked into the rectum during foreplay, around the anus, and applied to the object being inserted. More lubricant should be added as needed. Remember, the rectum cannot produce its own lubrication and too much friction is a major issue that can lead to discomfort, pain, and injury.
  • Foreplay and stretching are as important as lubrication. For men and women both, the anus is not designed to be penetrated. In order to have a mutually enjoyable anal sex encounter, foreplay that includes stimulation of the surrounding area and other erogenous regions is important. For women it is advised to include a toy or encourage self play for vaginal and clitoral stimulation while the partner stimulates the anal region, and the same goes for men in regards to the penis and testicles. Though it does not matter how, or who, does the stimulating, adequate foreplay is very important to helping the body relax and become more receptive.
  • The other aspect, stretching, is taking foreplay to the next level and includes applying the initial stages of lubrication. In addition to general foreplay, caressing along the perineum (taint) in both men and women can further elicit a conducive response towards anal sex. One method of proper stretching involves slowly working a lubricated finger or toy, such as anal plug, inside. If you wish to have anal intercourse with full penetration, the anus needs to be relaxed, lubricated, and warmed up with a bit of stretching to help prevent potential injury.
  • Take things slow and communicate. STOP immediately if your partner at any point indicates discomfort or pain.
  • Use condoms to prevent the potential transmission of harmful bacteria and STDs, and never go from anal to oral, or vaginal, without cleaning up first. Even with the use of a condom bacteria and fecal matter can be present on the skin at the base of the shaft and the ring where the condom sat. These regular bacteria from the bowels can cause infections and illness if introduced to the upper GI or vaginal tracts.

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