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Does anal sex cause health problems or diseases?

If you are curious about exploring anal sex, the key to keeping it safe and pleasurable is following some simple guidelines — as outlined here by family physician Dr Jane Forester.

Your question:

Does anal sex cause health problems or diseases? Can it make you incontinent?

The expert answers:

If you are curious about exploring anal sex, the key to keeping it safe and pleasurable is following some simple guidelines.

The anus does not have any of its own lubrication, so it is essential to use lots of water-based lubrication before attempting anal sex. This will reduce friction during penetration to protect the paper-thin anal tissue from tearing. This helps reduce discomfort, retain the anal musculature preventing incontinence, and also helps prevent an STD from entering through the torn tissue.

Speaking of STD prevention, it would be wise to have your partner use a heavily-lubed condom during anal sex, and never go directly from anal sex into the vagina or mouth unless you’ve changed condoms or completely cleaned yourself with soap and water. There are certain bacteria which reside safely in the anus and colon, which can cause infection when moved into another orifice.

The third step is not to be in any rush to allow penetration to occur too quickly.

A rare but dangerous complication of anal sex is rupture of the rectum, which can cause severe injury and result in a severe bacterial infection. The signs of an infection include diarrhea, fever and lower abdominal pain. The bacteria causing these symptoms include: Chlamydia, gonorrhea, lymphogranuloma venereum, shigella and herpes. Viruses are also transmitted in the same manner, and include HIV, Hep B, Hep C, Epstein-Barr virus (which causes mono) and Cytomegalovirus.

Lastly, communicate clearly with your partner as you explore anal sex.

Be sure to set up comfortable guidelines prior to beginning and during the act. You need to direct your partner by letting him know how slow, how fast, how deep or shallow he should go.

Using these guidelines, if still curious, there should be no harm done in at least trying anal sex. Remember you can stop at any time during it, or try it one time to find out if it’s something you would want to keep on your sexual relationship practices.

Dr Jane Forester
Family Physician

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