Ask The Feltt - “Does anal sex hurt?”
I’m a cis woman who is curious about butt stuff. I’ve never done it before and I’m scared it’ll hurt. Will it hurt?? What’s the best way to ease myself into anal??
Hi B-C! Butt play shouldn't hurt and we're here with some tips and things to think about before getting into it.
The first step is to eroticize the anal area. This is simply a mental exercise. It’s considered to be one of our most private places and it’s understandable for shame to be held there, and for there to be anxieties around pain, uncleanliness and whether or not it's cute. But it’s also a region that’s abundant with nerve endings and therefore potential for pleasure. In addition to this, the rectum shares a wall with the vaginal canal, and some folks find that erogenous zones like the g-spot can be stimulated indirectly via anal sex (!!). Part of eroticizing the anus is imagining and understanding it as a place for pleasure. If you're not feeling it in your brain, chances are you won't be feeling it irl either. So start with a fantasy. Or perhaps some light porn (look for chill stuff like massage, teasing, fingering and licking rather than penetration, and remember porn isn't sex ed--it's fantasy) and see how you feel about it.
Try spending some time with your butt, maybe during a long relaxing shower. Massage it with some coconut oil--squeeze and rub your own cheeks and take note of what feels good. Try circling a finger around your anus. We like the idea of adding anal play to something you already know you enjoy, so perhaps try the above while using a vibe. Get a feel for what you enjoy and find pleasurable.
If you feel relaxed and aroused enough after some massaging, try inserting a washed and well-lubed finger. Start small, and you don’t have to rush into this or go deep. The inner sphincter is involuntary and will only welcome penetration if you are relaxed and aroused. The anal area is not self lubricating and isn’t elastic like the vagina is. We don’t recommend you use numbing creams because if you feel pain, that’s an important thing to acknowledge--it’s a sign that you should stop. The sensation of stretching and fullness will be new, but pain means your butt isn't ready for whatever is happening.
You can try a small butt plug to get used to the feeling of the area being stretched and having something in there. A dilator set designed to train your anus over time is also a great option--it works by stretching the skin and getting your muscles accustomed gradually. Satisfyer's Booty Call set features three tapered plugs in different shapes, and Hathor/ SUTIL's Rich Water-Based lube is specially formulated for anal play with silicone toys and latex condoms.
Do not use the same fingers (or toys, or dicks, or barriers) in your vagina that have been in your butt without cleaning them or switching in an unused barrier.
Involve a partner any time you feel ready to do so.
When it comes to anal penetration from a partner, plenty of communication and patience is key. You don’t have to go straight to penetration (with a penis or dildo). Dirty talk is a fun way to affirm consent and enhance arousal--don’t be shy about asking for what you need! Could be a long body massage that slowly narrows to focus on your butt. Could be oral sex with anal rubbing and fingering. Could be having your ass licked and eaten. Could be an orgasm beforehand to feel really aroused and relaxed. Could be your partner rubbing a dildo or their penis on your cheeks and anal area as an extended tease. It could also be a combination of all of those things to get you totally ready, turned on and wanting anal sex. Your partner should use LOTS of lube and take it sloooowwww and shallow to start. Don't use hardcore porn as your beginner inspo. Do use a condom if you are non-monogamous. Check in with each other--remember that you control the position, the speed and depth of insertion. If you start to feel tense and nervous your sphincter will clench up, which will make penetration difficult and painful. Stay relaxed and present in your body. Register how penetration and fullness feel and whether or not you find that pleasurable and arousing. And if you need to stop, stop. It’s not a failure if it doesn’t happen or doesn’t feel good for you. There are always other times should you want to try again. If you hate it and never want to try it again that's fine too! It's absolutely possible that for some folks anal sex will be painful no matter what (possible reasons: a sensitive anal area, partner's penis may be too big, medical conditions, simply feels unpleasant or not sexy). What’s most important is that you genuinely enjoy what you are doing and that it makes you feel good.
If you’re worried about poo, be sure that you’ve had a healthy bowel movement that day and that you’re not experiencing incontinence. Listen to your gut! If you’re feeling off it’s probably not a good time to have anal sex. Feces isn’t stored in the rectum (it just passes through there on its way out), but the likelihood that there are trace amounts of fecal matter there is just a reality--it’s your butt. Many folks like to use a douche but as a beginner, a good rinse or some wipes are generally all you need.
For a longer discussion about anal anatomy and sex, check out Dr. Justin Lehmiller's Sex and Psychology Podcast episode with Dr. Evan Goldstein: "Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Anal Sex" via Spotify.
Sources: Image foreground - Attributed to Onesimos, red-figured cup decorated on the interior with an erotic scene (510BC-500BC) via British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Background - gambier20 via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0).