While anal sex is definitely more out there than it used to be, it still isn’t exactly mainstream yet. Despite the fact that we’ve been experiencing a sexual revolution of sorts over the past couple of decades and feel more comfortable discussing acts that were previously taboo, the term “anal sex” is often still met with a cringe. Yup, war stories heard from friends have led many people to declare that hole an “exit only” zone.
On the other hand, it seems that a ton of people are doing it: A review conducted on anal in 2010 confirmed that up to 40 percent of people have tried it at least once. And thanks to plugs, pegging, and toys, you don’t need a person with a penis – or another person at all, really, in order to try it.
For every female we’ve heard of attempting anal sex, I also know at least half a dozen women who refuse to ever do it because of some awful anecdote or another. Typically it starts with a clueless partner trying to shove it in, hoping that they’ll enjoy the experience — only to have the event end in trauma and pain. How’s a person ever supposed to give anal sex another try when it feels that bad the first time?
I’ve been lucky enough to have the opposite encounters with anal sex. The first time I did it was with a steady boyfriend who happened to be experienced in getting women comfortable with butt stuff. I’d even have fun, he promised. A little lube, some coaching and a lot of talking about it later, I was no longer an anal sex virgin. And I even enjoyed it!
Since then, it’s become something that I order off the menu once in a while. Although I do have to seriously be in the mood for it, I’ve had plenty of orgasms during anal sex. Recently, I even had a pretty powerful orgasm with anal-only stimulation (meaning, he wasn’t touching any other part of my body).
This would all be perfectly fine behind closed doors, but I was pretty shocked to see an episode of The Mindy Project with some pretty negative (and unrealistic) things to say about anal sex. In “I Slipped,” Mindy’s boyfriend Danny tries the surprise approach and she is, of course, shocked. When she goes to her friend Peter for advice, he gives her a few tips on sex positions — before admitting that no woman ever will enjoy butt action. The show doesn’t go on to correct this sexist remark, as Mindy has to take a heavy sedative later on to give it another try.
In light of this seriously damaging view, we decided to give you a few tips on how you actually can enjoy anal sex. And no, it doesn’t make you a perv to own your sexuality.
1. Don’t go straight for penetration. First and foremost, invest time in the foreplay. You should be highly aroused before going there, and having an orgasm (or three) beforehand never hurt either.
2. A glass of wine and romance can help. Don’t just decide to do it and go for it. While you don’t want to drink so much that you get too numb, a drink or two to relax may be just what you both need.
3. Try getting to know yourself first. Just as with any good sex, trying something yourself first may help you relax. Try gently massaging the outer opening of your anus next time you are masturbating.
4. Yes, you might feel really naughty. We all know that this is a bit of a taboo subject, and it’s OK to feel a bit weird, dirty or uncomfortable doing it. It’s natural, but it’s also 100 percent natural to experiment.
5. It’s a mess. Dark sheets help. Yes, we’re talking about your butt and things can get a little messy. If you’re shy or scared, use dark sheets to keep things from getting too weird looking later.
6. External stimulation at first. Just as when you tried it yourself, have your partner start by gently massaging the outside of the anus. Start slow and have him pause when you start to feel funny.
7. Be sure to stock up on lube. The most important part is to have good lube that you trust, and be sure to use it on both yourself and whatever will be penetrating you for maximum ease. Water-based lubricants work great.
8. The rules about using condoms. If your partner has a penis and is using it, you must use a condom. And you absolutely must switch condoms in between vaginal and anal penetration.
9. Relax, but yes it might hurt a bit. You’re reading this because you don’t want it to hurt, right? Well, I promise it’ll be OK but yes, it might hurt a bit at the start. The key is to pause as you need to.
10. Get ready to take full control. This one is key, OK? You are the one that needs to be in control. This is a different experience for you, and you need to gently guide your partner in, not the other way around.
Next Up: 15 more anal sex tips
A version of this article was originally published in October 2014.