All About Anal

What are the best safe ways to have anal sex? – Bum Conundrum


This is a great question. People sometimes assume that the preparation, execution and risks with anal sex are the same as vaginal sex, but there are some significant differences between penetrating the anus and the vagina.

The major difference is that the vagina is designed for penetration. It’s self-lubricating to facilitate it and its walls expand naturally during arousal to accommodate it. The anus does neither of these things. It offers no natural lubrication, does not naturally expand to accommodate penetration, and is designed to push things out rather than let them in.

That being said, many people love anal penetration, and there are definitely ways to make it safer. Before we get into that though, I also want to point out my use of the word “safer” instead of the “safe” you used in your question.

This difference in language comes from a harm reduction perspective, which puts emphasis on reducing possible harmful consequences of behaviours (in this case, STIs and other infections) rather than on eliminating the behaviours themselves (in this case, anal sex).

Basically, there’s no such thing as “safe” sex when it comes to any kind of sex with a partner. All sex comes with some level of risk, whether it is physical, like STIs and pregnancy, or emotional and interpersonal. So it would be misleading to call any sex “safe” or imply that there’s a way to make it so.

This isn’t meant to scare you or keep you from having the kind of sex you want to have; it’s meant to acknowledge that sex comes with a certain amount of personal risk management and we all handle it differently.

It’s up to every individual to decide the level of risk they’re comfortable taking on and where they draw the line. The safer sex practices associated with different activities are a great way to minimize these always-present risks.

Which brings us to the first step to safer anal sex:

1. Only do it if you want to be doing it. This goes for all kinds of sex, but receiving anal penetration requires some muscle relaxation and trust in your partner, so it helps to be calm and sure of your decision.

2. Limit exposure to fecal matter by clearing and cleaning the area beforehand. Fecal matter can carry a risk of infection, so having a bowel movement before sex to clear things up, and cleaning the area afterwards can help minimize exposure during sex.

3. Relax and warm up. As mentioned in the first step, relaxing is key to easier anal penetration because you don’t want tense muscles. Working your way up to anal penetration rather than diving right in can help with this.

Starting with touching and fingering can help you become comfortable with the sensation first. You can also start by experimenting with smaller penetrative toys to work up to the penetrating partner’s penis size.

If the receiving partner has no experience with anal penetration, using their fingers or toys during masturbation alone or with a partner can help them prepare.

4. Protection and lube are key to safer anal sex. Since the anus doesn’t produce its own lubrication, there’s a high risk for irritations and micro-tears in the anus during penetration, which can then serve as an entry point for STIs. This is why unprotected anal sex is considered a high-risk activity for STIs.

Lube helps reduce these risks by making penetration smoother and easier, while condoms offer effective protection against STIs.

5. The receiving partner should be the one in control of penetration, at least until they’re comfortable. Controlling penetration can help with relaxation and comfort since it allows them to stop quickly if something doesn’t feel right.

It’s really important to listen to and be aware of your body, and especially not to force anything when having anal sex. If penetration is difficult or painful, stop and take a break, or go back to warming up with other activities.

Anal sex shouldn’t be painful, so listen to your body if it’s sending you signals that something isn’t right.

Many of these steps can be applied to any penetrative sexual activity since they centre on awareness and checking in with yourself and your partner. Knowing the risks and safer sex strategies for the kind of sex you want to have is the first step to making sex safer, and in turn making you more comfortable.

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