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Anal Sex 102: Everything Else You Need to Know

You know you’re curious about anal sex — maybe you’re even ready to try it. You know the most important basics— but what about the finer points? Do you need to do anything to get ready? How do you make sure you’re clean — and that it feels as good as possible? Here’s everything else you want to know about anal sex.
Prepping for anal sex in general

Many people are really excited by the prospect of anal sex, both giving and receiving it — but for the person receiving, getting from the Point A of a hot fantasy to the point of being penetrated can feel really daunting. It feels difficult to get anything in that area at all — how could you ever possibly handle it?

It’s possible for most of us to handle anal sex as long as it’s approached very, very slowly by a patient and responsive partner. If you’d like to feel more prepared, however, there are also ways to bridge the gap a bit on your own (or with your date).

If your goal is to eventually have full penetrative anal sex, it’s great to start out with smaller anal toys — the goal here is to get you more accustomed to penetration in that area both physically and mentally, and for you to have a chance to learn more about what you like in terms of pace, sensation, lubrication, and more. Butt plugs and anal beads often feel like the easiest entry point into anal play, and they can help you get more familiar with the sensation of something entering or exiting that part of your body, in addition to the feeling of fullness that might be new.
However, both plugs and beads tend to keep the width of the toy inside your body and only the very narrow neck of the toy at your anus itself. While this is part of why they can be comfortable to wear for hours at a time or even all day — which can be a fun, sexy secret with your partner if you both enjoy it — they won’t do as much to stretch out the tight rings of tissue that make it feel so challenging to insert something anally.
If penetration is your goal, you may want to try something else, ideally a small dildo or even a set of dilators designed for stretching the vaginal opening. Both are great; just make sure you choose something with a wide enough base, at least two inches. Choose something very narrow — many dilator sets begin as small as a half inch in diameter — and you can choose to work your way up in size over time as you become more comfortable.

Using a small dildo or dilator set can look like masturbation — you can read erotica, watch or listen to porn, or fantasize while you use them — or it can just be part of your routine, where you decide to leave in a dilator while you read a book or watch a movie for the sake of stretching.

Prepping for anal sex on the day of

You may have heard jokes or memes about “food for bottoms” — the implication being that someone who plans on being the receiving partner for anal sex should organize their diet for the 24 hours preceding anal sex around having an empty colon. People who make this reference are usually thinking of food that’s light or high in fiber, avoiding lots of dairy or anything heavy that they’re worried will give them diarrhea or an unpredictable bowel movement.

If you have any pre-existing gastrointestinal concerns — like, say, lactose intolerance, or IBS — it’s definitely a good idea to be mindful of those when you’re planning your meals, if only because feeling ill and uncomfortable isn’t very sexy. But as a rule, you don’t need to plan a restrictive diet around your sex life; you should make sure that you’ve had a bowel movement earlier in the day if you plan on having anal sex, but don’t starve yourself; just having gone to the bathroom recently and following basic hygiene is enough.

Anal sex really only involves the very lowest part of your internal system; you don’t need to be completely empty inside, and frankly, the amount of food restriction that would require isn’t healthy for most people.

What does hygiene look like before anal sex? Many people are concerned about their internal cleanliness, or what a partner may find if they insert a body part or object. If this is a concern, you can feel free to use an enema bulb – you can fill it with lukewarm water and insert to gently flush out internally, several times in a row if you wish. You don’t need to (and shouldn’t) fill this with soap or soapy water, or anything caustic like vinegar or bleach. I also don’t necessarily recommend the more involved enemas that attach to your showerhead or faucet.

Your internal soft tissues are very delicate, and have their own microbiome and pH that can easily be upset by outside chemicals — remember also that you’re planning to agitate this tissue even more later with penetration, so we really don’t want to irritate it. If you flush your anus with water a few times and nothing but water comes out when you do so, you’re good to go.

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