5 Tips to Help You Prepare for Anal Sex

Trying anal sex can be a new way to explore with your partner, but you'll want to do some prep first.

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Although anal sex can seem intimidating if you’ve never tried it before, it can also be very pleasurable. During anal sex, a penis or a sex toy — such as a dildo, vibrator, or butt plug — penetrates the anus. It can be a great way to explore new sensations, either alone or with a partner.

However, before you get started, it’s important that you prep to get your rectum ready to have something inserted – especially if it's your first time having anal sex.

First things first, a couple of definitions:

  • Your rectum is the last part of your large intestine that is closest to your anus.
  • Your anus is the opening of your rectum outside your body.
  • Your anal sphincter is a thin, circular muscle around your anal canal that helps maintain constriction and bowel control.


How to Prepare for Anal Sex

Preparing for anal sex can help you connect with your partner, get clear on what will make the experience pleasurable for you both, and help you avoid accidents and injuries.

"When people get used to it, they do report that it feels very good because your rectum starts to loosen and they feel comfortable," Lee Phillips, LCSW, CST, EdD, psychotherapist and certified sex and couples therapist, told Health.

Discuss Trying Anal With Your Partner

If you're new to anal sex or even new to anal sex with a new partner, the first step is to have a conversation about it. This is when you'll talk about consent and come to an understanding of what each partner wants from the experience.

Phillips recommends talking about things that make you feel excited and things that also make you feel anxious about anal sex. "A lot of people get anxious, and when you get anxious, the sphincter muscle tightens up more," said Phillips.

Making sure you're on the same page ahead of time can help to reduce anxiety and make the experience better for both of you.

Here are some topics to cover with your partner:

  • Why you want to try anal sex
  • What you like or might like about it
  • What you might dislike or feel uncomfortable with
  • What you and your partner hope to get out of the experience
  • How you will communicate if someone wants to stop, or something feels uncomfortable
  • If you will use toys or if penetration will happen with a penis
  • How you'll handle a poop accident (Does that put an end to sexual activity, or do you clean up and resume?)

Test Solo Anal Sex First

Solo play is a good way to get comfortable with being the receiver of anal sex. You can explore the new sensations at your own pace and get used to penetration.

If you're totally new to anal sex, Phillips recommends starting slow. First explore your anus using a mirror, and then do some touching. Think about how that feels. Is it stimulating?

“People may be curious about [anal sex], and then they go down there, and they look at it, and they go, ‘I don't know about this,’" said Phillips.

After you've done that initial exploration session and decide you want to do more, try using your fingers or a sex toy to explore penetration. Because the sphincter muscle is very sensitive, Phillips cautions against finger play if you have long fingernails.

Butt plugs, which come in silicone, glass, and metal, are toys made to go in the anus for sexual pleasure. Since they come in different sizes, they can also be used to get your anus ready for something larger, like a bigger toy or a penis. Phillips recommends  glass toys  because they’re slick, comfortable, and allows for sexual stimulation through heat and cold.

If you're a first-timer, try starting with the smaller size and working your way up.

No matter what type of toy you use, lube is essential to avoid injury. Make sure to use plenty.

Clean Up Before — and After

If you're concerned about poop, there are some ways to prep that help avoid accidents. But, keep in mind, accidents can happen, so you'll want to have a clean-up plan just in case.

"Cleaning before helps reduce the possibility of an accident," said Phillips. Eating light meals the day of anal sex and pooping ahead of time can also help avoid any fecal-related incidents.

Using a douche can help you clean out your rectum before anal sex. Douching involves cleaning internally with water through a nozzle or tube inserted into the anus.

The possibility of poop showing up is part of having anal sex, so if it happens, know that it's natural. You and your partner may choose to stop and shower, use baby wipes, or you may keep going and clean up afterwards, depending on what you're both comfortable with.

Taking a clean-up break is especially important if you want to have vaginal sex after anal. The vagina and anus have different bacteria, and introducing bacteria from the anus to the vagina can cause a variety of infections, including yeast infections or urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Use A Lot of Lube

Unlike the vagina, the anus doesn't self-lubricate, so you'll need to use lube in order to avoid tearing from friction. Although more studies are needed, lubricants can play a role in improved sexual health and well-being.

"I always recommend a lot of lube, especially because most likely the person is going to be very tight if they've never done it before," said Phillips.

The type of lube you choose depends on your preferences and the toys you plan to use. Water-based lube is okay for use with toys, fingers, or a penis, but it's not long lasting – so you'll want to keep the bottle handy.

Silicone lube has longer lasting power, but you don't want to use it with a silicone toy, according to Phillips. Silicone lube can deteriorate sex toys that are made of silicone, due to how silicone molecules react with each other. Silicone is also safe to use with latex condoms.

Oil-based lube will weaken latex, so avoid using it with condoms.

Use Protection

Anal sex, like vaginal sex, is a type of penetration, so it carries the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 

The infections you can get through anal sex can occur in the rectum or in the penis of the person doing the penetrating. These include:

  • Syphilis
  • Hepatitis B
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Herpes
  • HIV

Some STDs — namely HIV, chlamydia, and gonorrhea — are spread through bodily fluids, like semen. Others like HIV and hepatitis B come from the blood of someone with the condition. Other STDs such as genital herpes, syphilis, and human papillomavirus (HPV) are most often spread through genital skin-to-skin contact.

Anal sex carries the highest risk of getting or transmitting HIV because the anus is sensitive and can get cuts and tears more easily. 

Using a condom, along with lube to prevent tears, can help protect you from getting exposed to an STI or STD.

There are also other precautions you can take. You can reduce your risk of getting hepatitis A and B, and HPV by getting vaccinated. Pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP is a prescription medication that reduces your risk of getting HIV from sex by around 99%.

Stop if Anal Sex Hurts

Anal sex is meant to be pleasurable for the giver and receiver, so if you're experiencing pain, stop and reevaluate.

The anus is a sensitive area, and some people may be more sensitive than others, according to Phillips. If you're not enjoying it, tell your partner.

For those who are new to being the receiver, Phillips said a penis [or something penis-sized] can be pretty painful the first time it goes in if you haven't practiced. Using a butt plug can help you prepare for having anal sex with a partner. 

Pain can also come from irritations and injuries. Anal sex can irritate any hemorrhoids you may have. Hemorrhoids which are swollen veins in your anus or rectum, aren’t always obvious since they can occur in the rectum as well as externally. Less common, and more serious, are anal sphincter injuries and a tear in the anus or rectum that gets larger (called a fistula).

You can reduce the possibility of pain by planning and practicing solo ahead of time, communicating with your partner as you go, and using lots of lube.

Slow Things Down and Communicate

So much of enjoying any type of intercourse or sexual activity comes down to communication. You and your partner want to be on the same page.

Even if you've carefully planned the big event, check in with your partner during the act. Tell them what feels good and what doesn't or if you need to make an adjustment or stop.

Phillips also recommends exploring different positions because some may be more comforting and make communication easier. For example, a comforting position might be having the receiving partner lay on their stomach so the giving partner can whisper in their ear. 

It can take some time to figure out what works for both of you, especially if you're trying anal for the first time. Try not to get discouraged if things don't happen the way you want right away. It's another opportunity to talk with your partner and try different approaches for next time.

The more open you can be with one another during the process, the more likely you are to improve the experience.

A Quick Review

Trying anal sex for the first time can be an exciting way for you and your partner to experience a new sensation together.

The keys to anal sex for beginners are communication, exploring and practicing with toys ahead of time, using protection, and lots of lube. Consent is a must for a good and safe experience.

Like vaginal sex, you can get STIs by practicing anal sex, so use protection and ask a health provider about your options when it comes to preventing STIs.

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Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. San Francisco Aids Foundation. Anal douching safety tips.

  2. Kennedy CE, Yeh PT, Li J, Gonsalves L, Narasimhan M. Lubricants for the promotion of sexual health and well-being: a systematic reviewSex Reprod Health Matters. 2021;29(3):2044198. doi:10.1080/26410397.2022.2044198

  3. International Society for Sexual Medicine. What is a lubricant?

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. STDs and HIV - CDC detailed fact sheet.

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

  6. Cawich SO, Samuels L, Bambury I, Cherian CJ, Christie L, Kulkarni S. Complete anal sphincter complex disruption from intercourse: A case report and literature reviewInt J Surg Case Rep. 2012;3(11):565-568. doi:10.1016/j.ijscr.2012.07.014

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