Let’s be real. Even for those of us who have a generally open-minded, been-there-done-that attitude about sex, the thought of anal sex can still seem a little intimidating if you haven’t gone there before. For one reason or another, anal penetration is frequently a final sexual frontier — and there can be a whole lot of buildup (and nerves) that comes along with it.
But our greatest fears often lie in anticipation, and once you give anal a go, you might just find that you’ve been missing out on something that can actually be really hot and satisfying. After all, some studies have found that mutual satisfaction was high across the gender orgasm gap in a sexual encounters that included anal, as FiveThirtyEight’s Mona Chalabi wrote in 2015: “100 percent of men and 94 percent of women say they orgasmed during encounters in which they received anal sex.” This could be because anal is something that requires a bit more foreplay and preparation to execute well or that the people who are having anal sex are maybe a bit more concerned with getting their partner off.
We checked in with some experts and asked them to take the mystery out of anal sex for beginners, and they schooled us on some positions that can help ease you into your first time to actually make it an enjoyable experience.
Arm yourself with these tips and a lot of lube, and you’re on your way to one kick-ass time.
Cowgirl (or cowboy)
In the traditional cowgirl position, your partner lies down while you mount on top — yeehaw! As the partner on top, you can ease into anal penetration by moving up or down as needed. Pro tip: Make sure your bottom partner does not begin to thrust until you’re good and ready.
Certified Master Sex Expert and Educator, Sex Coach and “So Tight” Sensual Fitness Personal Trainer Nikki Ransom endorses the cowgirl position for anal newbies. She explains, “This position will allow you to control the pace and depth that his penis goes inside of you. Remember to go at an easy pace and stay relaxed. It helps to have had an orgasm already and be highly aroused.”
Jessica O’Reilly (a.k.a. Dr. Jess, Ph.D.), author, international speaker and PlayboyTV’s sexologist, offers an alternative to the cowgirl in her book The New Sex Bible, “If she doesn’t like the sensation of deep penetration, but he desires more stimulation against the base of his shaft, she can reach backwards with a warm, wet hand to grasp the lower half of his shaft. Her hand becomes an extension of her butt while providing a physical buffer to ensure only shallow penetration.”
This position is most often associated with anal because it has major advantages. As the partner on the bottom, you can stay loose as you control penetration to increase pleasure. Getting busy on all fours may be your best bet if you have attempted and found anal painful in the past.
Patricia Johnson and Mark Michaels, co-authors of Designer Relationships, Partners in Passion, Great Sex Made Simple, Tantra for Erotic Empowerment and The Essence of Tantric Sexuality, recommend doggy style for first-timers and those who may have had an unpleasant experience before. The couple says, “Anal sex should never be painful. Always use plenty of lube and proceed slowly and gently.” Ransom adds, “Rub and stimulate your clitoris too to make it even more pleasurable.”
In The New Sex Bible, Dr. Jess has a different take on doggy-style anal sex. She recommends the modified doggy to give the receptive partner more control, support intimacy and provide the opportunity for double penetration. Dr. Jess explains, “She assumes a kneeling position with her butt cheeks on her heels and her knees spread wide open. She places her hands on her knees or the bed for support. He assumes the same position behind her and adjusts his height so that the head of his [penis] rests below her bum. He remains static as she lowers herself onto his head and takes a few deep breaths before sliding farther down his shaft. She drives her butt and hips up and down at her own pace as he reaches around to fondle her breasts or rub her clitoris.”
Face to face
This position is preferred if you are looking for extra intimacy during the act. Start with your partner sitting as you mount his lap, face-to-face. Once again — as the partner on top, you can control depth of penetration to stay comfy. Face-to-face anal has the added bonus of extra stimulation for a woman: breasts, clitoris, go crazy!
Johnson and Michaels love face-to-face anal for the toe-tingling intimacy it provides. They confirm, “This position facilitates using eye contact and breath to build even more arousal.”
Dr. Jess agrees. She says, “I like this position as it allows the ‘mounter’ to exercise a good amount of control of the depth and rhythm of penetration. Wear a vibrating c*** ring for this one to provide extra pleasurable sensations as the top partner grinds against his shaft.”
A version of this post was originally published January 2015.
Still want to change things up in bed? Our sex position bucket list has all sorts of moves to try: