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What is Pegging? Understanding the Sex Act You Might’ve Just Heard About

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If you’re here you are probably the right mix of open-minded and curious to want to find out what pegging is, exactly. Maybe you had a partner ask you about trying it when you mix things up, a match on a dating app with a love for anal play mentioned it in passing or maybe you watched the now-iconic pegging episode of Broad City and it caught your attention. That’s not at all surprising.

Now, we’re not here (nor are we ever here) to pass judgement on what anyone likes in bed or who they do it with, provided all parties involved are grown-up, game and thoroughly into it. So if you’re looking for pearl clutching, finger wagging or whatever, this probably isn’t going to be the strap-on festooned post for you. Sorry!

But we are here to explain pegging to the thus far uninitiated. And, really, it’s not that scary or scandalous at all.

So what is pegging?

The term “pegging” was first coined by Dan Savage all the way back in 2001 to describe when a cisgender man is penetrated by a partner who is a cis-female using a strap-on. But as attitudes around gender and gendered roles of who “naturally” gives and receives penetration have evolved, enlightened and grown up, the term is now used to describe most penetration with a strap-on (which is just a two-piece sex toy that includes a dildo for penetrating and a harness to keep it on the person doing said penetrating). 

Not to make it all sound underwhelming or uninteresting, because it most certainly isn’t that! But what is referred to as “pegging” is also  literally just how some people with some body parts have intercourse depending on who likes what sensations. So that’s to say that it’s not particularly kinky or (snort) deviant in the realm of sexual pleasure humans enjoy — so, while there’s no reason to feel shame for any of your desires, there’s additionally no reason to feel weird or shameful about being into it.

How does it work? 

We’ll have a variety of answers to this one because bodies and tastes are so wonderfully diverse! But the short answer is: Like any other kind of penetration. 

For people taking their first steps into anal play in general,  I’d very much advise you pick up a toy and anal-friendly lubricant
  — as that hole is not self-lubricating and not all lubes play well with sex toys— and some fun toys of varying sizes (with flared bases please!) to get started. This will help all partners get a feel for what they like, what feels good and what maybe gets to the edge of their comfort zones. You definitely start with a thorough conversation and negotiation of those comfort zones and maybe a finger before getting too deep (literally or figuratively) with additional toys. 

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Once you’re sure you’re comfortable and sure you’re both into it, you’ll want to invest in a strap-on with the right fit: You’ll want something that can be hands-free, comfortable (there are inclusive sizes available at a lot of your favorite sex toy retailers!) and provide the giver with the pleasure they want and that also has a dildo — or several — that aligns with what their partner being penetrated would like to experience.

There are smaller strap-ons designed for beginners that are less intense and girthy, so don’t freak out if you come across something that seems too big early on in your shopping experience. Feel free to search out “small strap ons for pegging” too and see if you can’t find something that feels like a fit. There might be some trial and error along the way and that’s totally fine! 

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From there, you’ll just want to make sure you’re practicing safe and responsible sexual citizenship: Use a safe-word or stoplight system if you feel it’s necessary (the red, yellow and green can be helpful for making each step a little more explicit and bypass some awkward fumbling), check in with your partner throughout the actual intercourse and aftercare, practice good sex toy hygiene which, in addition to thoroughly cleaning your toys, means using condoms if you would otherwise be using condoms.

Why does it feel good? 

Again, the exact mechanics of what feels good and why will vary depending on the biological equipment each individual is packing and their own tastes. But the short answer is: All kinds of bodies have nerve endings in strategic places that will get stimulated from this kind of play.

For people with penises and prostates the pleasure from being on the receiving end of penetrative sex takes place in the prostate, primarily. Often referred to as the P-spot or the male G-spot (though, to be clear, not everyone with a prostate is a male!), the prostate is the gland that produces some of the fluids in semen, as WebMD notes, and is surrounded by nerve endings that can be an awesome source of pleasure and even cause orgasms when it’s stimulated or massaged either through penetration or via stimulating the perineum (the area between the scrotum and the anus). 

So pegging is a great opportunity to achieve that pleasure via penetration (usually with a toy, once the receiver is ready for one). But these folks might also benefit from the friction and thrust if they’re in a face-down position, so it can be an experience with tons of opportunities for stimulation. Strap-ons can also be used by people with penises who either don’t want to or can’t penetrate the way they’d like to with theirs (particularly for people dealing with cases of Erectile Dysfunction) or other organic penetration issues. Some are even cool for double penetration

Meanwhile people with vulvas on the giving end (whether penetrating another partner with a vulva or penetrating any partner anally), the pleasure is all about the clitoral stimulation you get from grinding against the toy (not unlike dry-humping). Some also have vibrating functions, of which we’re obviously fans. People with vulvas receiving this kind of penetration probably doesn’t need explaining, but rest assured: It feels good for them too!

But since the most powerful human sex organ remains the brain, the pleasure can also come from there.

Particularly if you’re someone who was socialized as a cis-man and internalized the scripts about consistently being the giver of penetration and pleasure (or socialized as a cis-woman to believe you’re meant to only be the receiver), there’s an excitement and validation that comes with flipping these scripts and embracing wholly the kind of sex that feels right to you and your body with your partner. Which can be really cool, if not totally euphoric to experience!  Mix that up with all the nerve endings being stimulated and you’re set up for a pretty fun time. Mix and match with any of your other various kinks and interests and you might be unlocking a whole new layer to the pleasure you and your partner(s) can have. 

Though it might seem intimidating at the outset, pegging is just another of the many ways people can experience all the sexual and sensual pleasure their bodies have to offer. So if it’s caught your interest and your partner is on board, you shouldn’t be afraid to give it a try. 

Before you go, check out the 69 (nice) sex positions we’d recommend you add to your bucket list: 

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