Exploring the backdoor

The Spectrum's sex columnist gives tips for anal sex

I remember the first time I heard about anal sex as an inexperienced teenager. In short: I was appalled. How would that even work? Isn’t it painful? The butthole is not a two-way street. There’s poop in there!

I would be putting it lightly by saying the topic, in its entirety, made me squeamish. I didn’t want to talk about it with my girlfriends, I didn’t want my sexual partners to ask for it and I certainly didn’t want anyone going anywhere near my back door. I clenched up at the very thought.

Anal sex is certainly taboo; plenty of people (including my younger self) refuse to even consider it. But today, taboos are becoming sexier. In general, according to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behaviors, 34 percent of men and 16 percent of women reported having anal sex with their casual partners of an opposite sex. In 15-19 year olds, 10 percent of males and females reported having anal sex with an opposite-sex partner, according to The National Survey of Family Growth.

I, myself, have become a little more liberated – insofar as being able to openly talk about anal. I started to hear from a lot of friends, both male and female, who’ve tried it and it turns out a large number really liked it.

But I wondered, aside from being kinky, what’s the appeal?

Porn is the answer, according to an interview with Darren Michaels, an award-winning erotica author, in Cosmopolitan.

“Far too many men equate what they watch online with what they want their sex life to be,” Michaels said in the article.

He also equated the desire to have anal sex with power – having the upper hand is hot and anal sex allows that dominance.

I talked to men and women who’ve engaged in butt play and here’s what I found:

Men might be so attracted to anal sex simply because they think asses are attractive. Anything that allows them to focus on their potentially favorite body part for a while is probably a good idea to them.

There seems to be another single, resounding answer: it’s tighter. Everyone knows how much pleasure that can allow for the man, Michaels agrees. As a woman, however, a tighter hole seems to imply more pain.

But some ladies have actually admitted it feels good. With a lot of patience and a lot of lube, butt play can stimulate a woman in a completely new and interesting way, according to sexpert Emily Morse, author of sexwithemily.com.

The pros are actually pretty convincing. But is anal sex for everyone? Probably not. I’m not even convinced that it’s something I’d like to try.

If your anal region is somewhere you would like to explore, then be sure to remember these important tips:

Keep it clean.

A thorough shower seems like an obvious pre-anal necessity but I’ve also heard several suggestions regarding emptying your bowels a short time beforehand. Condoms are also a must because sexually transmitted infections like HPV, HIV, Chlamydia, gonorrhea and herpes can still be transmitted during anal sex, according to Men’s Health. Furthermore, I can’t imagine that any remnants of feces on your genitals could ever be a good thing.

Get turned on, and go slowly.

Just like with vaginal intercourse, if a woman’s muscles are tense, insertion is going to hurt. It’s important not to ignore foreplay and to allow the woman time to relax and get into it. If you’re just starting out, mild butt play might be a good way to test the waters, too.

Use lots of lube.

Your butthole will not produce natural lubricants the way your vagina does and since it’s allegedly so tight, this tip seems like a given.

Finally, always remember: while there’s no shame in wanting to explore your sexuality and no shame in wanting to sexually please your partner, there’s no shame in saying no or ceasing to continue anything that you don’t like or makes you feel uncomfortable.

Jackie Graber is a sex columnist and can be reached at jacqulyn@buffalo.edu.