The Back Door: Let’s Talk Anal

Anal sex. Yeah, we’re just going to come right out and talk about it because that’s what we do at #JustTalkAboutIt, people. That’s where it’s at.

Anal sex is quite the common activity, and it is enjoyed in all types of relationships. WebMD notes that an estimated 90% of men who have sex with men and as many as 5–10% of sexually active women engage in receptive anal intercourse. Even more telling, according to Vital and Health Statistics Journal of Sexual Medicine: in 2002, 35 percent of women between the ages of 25 and 44 said they’d tried anal sex at least once. In a 2010 survey, that percentage rose to 40% for women in their 30s and 40s, and 46% for those 25 to 29.

Anal sex is just another expression of sexual intimacy, and there is nothing deviant or wrong about it (as long as both you and your partner have expressed mutual consent and you are going all-out on the safety front and use a condom every single time). Not only are condoms important for the prevention of STDs, but when anal sex is on the sexual agenda, they can also help prevent other types of infections. To put it bluntly: your butt isn’t exactly the cleanest place on your body. There’s bacteria in there that can either go into the “giving” partner’s penis or—if you go straight from anal to vaginal or oral sex—into the vagina or mouth. No good. So go a good rule of thumb is to use a new condom if you make a switch.

If you do choose to engage in anal intercourse, keep in mind that it’s a whole different animal than vaginal intercourse. The anus doesn’t have the same self-lubricating properties as a vagina, so you need to get some of the slippery stuff to make sure you don’t tear any delicate tissue. Tears in the anal tissue can make you more susceptible to infections, including sexually transmitted diseases like HIV. “Studies have suggested that anal exposure to HIV poses 30 times more risk to the receptive partner than vaginal exposure,” notes WebMD. Definitely not something to take chances with, okay Beforeplayers?

Additionally, your anus was built to hold stuff in (pause for 3rd grade chuckle here), which is why the sphincter muscle is so strong and can be painful to try and penetrate the other way. If you choose to have repetitive anal sex, be sure to exercise your muscle with anal kegels to prevent weakening—and ultimately, trouble “holding it in” and making it to a toilet in time.

All that said, anal sex can be extremely pleasurable. For many, the anus is a highly erogenous zone, which directly links to serious sexual stimulation. So as long as you have open communication with your partner and go about your escapades safely, the back door can be just as welcoming as the front. Knock, knock! Who’s there? Something new and exciting to try.