Anal exploration is a lot of fun and can add a whole new dimension to your sex life. Right around the anal sphincter is a very high concentration of nerve endings, so it’s a potential pleasure playground back there.

Internally, the anus and rectum respond to pressure and vibration. Many men love having their prostate stimulated, while women enjoy the sensation of fullness and less direct pressure on their g-spot.

For anyone curious about anal play, there are some VERY IMPORTANT safety rules to keep in mind. Go slow. Relaxation is key, so take your time and don’t rush it. Really focus on what feels good, and if something doesn’t, then back off and try something else.

Use lube. This is essential! The tissues back there are very fragile and lack natural lubrication. Because the area is so sensitive, inadequate lubrication leads to damaging friction.

Silicone-based lubes are great for anal play because they don’t dry out or get tacky like water-based lubes. There are also some thicker, gel-like water-based lubes that work better for anal. Since it’s a good idea to use condoms for anal sex, I don’t recommend oil-based lubes.

Start small, with only a pinky finger or beginner butt plug, and gradually work up to penetration with larger fingers or toys before attempting full-on anal intercourse.

Anal sex should not hurt. If it hurts, then you’re doing it wrong. Try going more slowly, getting more aroused and/or relaxed, and using/adding more lube.

Avoid any kind of desensitizing cream or lube. You need to be able to feel it if something hurts because pain is the body’s warning sign that something isn’t right.

Hygiene. Remember how as little girls we were taught to wipe from front to back? Well, that is because bacteria from the rectum wreaks havoc when introduced into the vagina. The same applies to sex: go from front to back, but NEVER back to front. Once anything has been in your bum, be it fingers, toys, or a penis, don’t let it back into your vagina.

Due to the sensitive nature of anal tissue, make sure anything that goes back there is clean and smooth. Fingernails should be cut and free of any jagged edges. Try to find seamless toys made from smooth materials.

Only use toys with a flange or flared base that are designed for anal play. This is very important. Unlike the vagina, which has the cervix to serve as a kind of “dead end,” The rectum opens up into the large intestine. The flared base on anal toys keeps them from disappearing up the rectum and having to be subsequently retrieved by a medical professional at the closest hospital emergency room.

Condoms and dental dams or other reliable barriers should be used at all times unless you and your partner are monogamous and fluid-bonded.

More resources: The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex For Men by David Finer

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