Anal Play for Vulva Owners
Sun's out, buns out! To celebrate Anal August, we asked sex educator Cassandra Corrado to share all the best pleasure tips on anal play for vulva owners.
You may have overlooked this particular holiday, but since 2004, August has been celebrated as Anal Pleasure Month! Yep, one whole month dedicated to your booty and helping it feel good. That means plenty of time to learn, explore, practice, and get a better lay of the land.
It might feel rare, but anal play is actually pretty common — about 30% of straight, self-identified men and women alone have participated in anal play.
Anal Play for Every Body
Despite how common it is, the backdoor is still a mystery to most of us, and people with vulvas, in particular, might feel confused about it. The truth is that anal play can be pleasurable for people of all genders and configurations! There are oodles of nerve endings in the anus and perineum, not to mention the potential for pleasurable pressure. In addition to the anus' own nerve endings, anal play can also indirectly stimulate the clitoral bulbs and crura.
That being said, just because something has the potential for pleasure doesn't mean you should ever pressure someone into doing something that they're just not into. If your partner says "no," don't pressure them. Listen to them.
Whether you're anal curious or a certified Anal Enthusiast, these tips and tricks (plus some debunked myths) will help you pleasurably explore your (or your partner's) backdoor!
Anal Sex Myths
When it comes to anal play, there's a lot of misinformation and stigma floating around. First and foremost, that "why does anal sex hurt" so much and why is always painful.
I want to be clear here: Anal play should not be painful. Pain during anal play could be a few things, like our bodies being tense from stress or because we're not really into what's happening. It could also be a lack of lubrication, or penetration that is deeper than we find pleasurable. There also could be some underlying health reasons, like anal fissures or hemorrhoids. Bottom line: If anal play hurts, that means something is wrong, so stop and reassess!
The second myth is that it's inherently dirty. I'll be honest: If you're playing with a butt, you're going to where poop sometimes spends time. But fecal matter doesn't often make an appearance during anal, and there are a few things you can do to prevent it (more on that in a bit).
Anal play also doesn't permanently "stretch out" your anus. It's a muscle, and like any other muscle in your body, it can develop flexibility. But there's a difference between flexibility and "this part of my body is stretched out and stuck like this forever!" In reality, if you regularly participate in anal play, then you're training that set of muscles to be more flexible.
Here are some that are just a big, eye-rolling "NO": Liking anal play doesn't mean you're a slut (you do you, babe!), it isn't something only folks with penises or prostates are into, anal play isn't just penetration, and no, liking anal doesn't mean you're gay either. But, you could also be all of those things and love anal play. Humans are complex, delightful beings — and there's no shame in any of it.
Why Vulva-Owners Might Consider Anal
Many people assume that anal play is only pleasurable because of the prostate or prostate orgasms, but the prostate is just one part of the peachy picture, and you can also enjoy anal sex without one! There are infinite reasons why someone with a vulva might enjoy being on the receiving end of anal play, but here are some of the most common.
Anal play explores a new aspect of their sexual pleasure
Many folks with vulvas find that engaging in anal can feel really liberating. By exploring a part of their body that they've historically been told is off-limits or gross, many folks may feel a sense of reclaiming ownership of their desires and pleasures.
Penetration without involving the vagina
Some folks with vaginas experience pain during vaginal penetration. Just like anal play, vaginal play shouldn't hurt — it may be caused by vaginismus, chronic dryness, or vulvodynia. But vulva owners may still want to engage in penetrative play, even if their vagina RSVP'd "no" to the party. So, if you experience chronic vaginal pain, then anal play may be a pleasurable alternative. Similarly, some sexual violence survivors who don't want to engage in vaginal play may be able to more comfortably explore their anus.
Anal play is a mindfulness exercise. It requires you to pay close attention to your or your partner's body and how it's responding — then make changes accordingly. That type of body awareness can feel really exciting and can even help bring mindfulness to other parts of your sex life, too.
Exploring different sensations
Anal play isn't just about penetration — it encompasses any kind of sexual stimulation of the internal and external parts of the anus. The perineum (the band of tissue between the vagina and the anus) is super sensitive to light touch, while the outside of the anal opening tends to enjoy some light to medium anal massaging. Anal penetration can indirectly stimulate the clitoris and can provide a feeling of fullness. The many types of enjoyable sensations mean that "trying out anal" isn't just a single thing to check off your list. You have a lot of options here!
Trying out double penetration
Double penetration is just simultaneously penetrating two holes on someone's body (such as the mouth and the anus and the vagina) using either toys, body parts, or multiple partners. Double penetration can cause a sensation of intense fullness, which can lead to really strong orgasms.
Ultimately, people should consider anal play because of its pleasure potential — not just to satisfy a partner. Your anus will know if you're saying "yes" to something that you're actually not into, so listen to your butt and set some boundaries instead. Tell your partner your concerns and share where your boundaries are. You might not be down to receive, but you may be down for some pegging — and that's worth a conversation, too.
10 Simple Tips for Getting Started with Anal Play
If you're booty-curious, there are some simple things you should know before you go exploring the land down-under. These tips will help you more safely (and tidily) access your anal pleasure, and some of them aren't just tips — they're non-negotiable.
1. Build an anal hygiene routine
Many folks worry that anal play will be messy, but it doesn't have to be. Pay attention to the schedule of your regular bowel movements and go to the bathroom 30-60 minutes before you're planning for play to start (and don't eat a heavy meal that day). A diet high in fiber and fluids can help keep you regular, too!
Once you've emptied your bowels, take a moment to clean up. You might hop in the shower and wash off, or if you're more pressed for time, you should use a bidet or some baby wipes.
You don't need to use an enema or douche before anal, but some people prefer to. If you do, either use a basic silicone bulb filled with warm water or buy a kit at the store. If you opt for the store-bought kit, empty out the solution that comes with it — it's stronger than you need — and refill it with warm water. You may want to add a bit of lube to the tip to make it easier to insert, too. Then, follow the instructions that came with your kit.
2. Start small (and external)
Look, this isn't Fast and the Furious. When it comes to anal play, there is no benefit to going from 0 to 100 in 60 seconds or less. This is where the idea that "anal play is painful" often comes from. Take the time to warm up and entice your body!
There are many ways you can do this. Externally, you could start off with an anal massage or even with analingus (anal sex performed on an anus). Once your body feels warmed up and interested, you can try some light penetration by anal fingering or use a small butt plug like the Novice Plug from the Beginner Booty Set.
Remember, practice being aware of your body and what it's telling you. Do you feel ready for a little more, or are you content to hang out in this place for a while? Do you need to slow down, slim down your toy, or stop? Only move up when you feel ready to!
This isn't a race; the goal is just to feel good, whatever that feels like for you.
3. Use lube
Lube is an affordable sexual tool that can have a way outsized effect on your sexual pleasure — and for anal play, lube is non-negotiable. You must use it.
I sound dramatic, I know. But unlike the vagina, the anus isn't self-lubricating, so trying to engage in lube-free penetration can lead to damage of the soft tissues in the anus. This is a situation where you want to apply liberally and re-apply as often as you need to.
Folks have different preferences for lube, and the one that works best for you will depend on the type of sex you're planning on having.
Water-based lubes (like the Le Wand Natural Intimate Lubricant) are an anal play favorite because they provide some cushion and are compatible with all types of toys and barrier methods, but they need to be reapplied more often.
Silicone-based lubes are long-lasting and water-resistant, which makes them ideal for shower play. But they can't be used with silicone toys, so if you're planning on using one, opt for a different formula.
Like silicone lubricants, oil-based lubes like coconut oil lube are long-lasting and water-resistant. They can be used with silicone toys, but they cannot be used with latex barrier methods. So, if you're planning on using condoms or dental dams, oil-based lubes won't be the type for you.
If you're just getting started with anal play, I recommend using a water-based lube since it's broadly compatible with all types of barrier methods and toys. Make adjustments from there once you know more about the types of things you're into!
4. Keep safety in mind
Anal play is typically considered a "riskier" play when it comes to STI transmission. While risk is going to look different for everyone, there are two reasons why you should be extra risk-aware during anal play.
First, the mucous membranes in the anus are highly permeable, so it's easier for fluids to pass through them. Second, those membranes (and the rest of the anal skin) are pretty thin and easily torn (this is why lube is so important!). If tears happen, fluid-based STI transmission can happen even more easily.
So, talk with your partners about each of your STI statuses, and if it's been a while since you've had an STI check-up, get one scheduled. You can even go together!
Once you have a fuller picture, make the decision about what types of barrier methods you'll use. External condoms, internal condoms, gloves, and dental dams are all options here, and the ones you choose will depend on the type of play you're planning and what risk factors you're considering.
5. Put the receiver in control
When many folks think of penetrative play, they tend to think that the person being penetrated is taking the more passive role. That isn't always the case, and when it comes to first-time anal, it shouldn't be the case.
MASTER: The best positions for anal sex!
The receiver is going to be able to judge their body's limits better than their partners will, so put them in control. If you're trying out anal play using doggy style, have the receiver move back towards their partner (rather than their partner approaching them). You can also have the receiver go on top — just find the position that's most comfortable for you and your partner.
Each of these options lets the receiver control the speed and depth of penetration, which is a key component of having anal sex that you truly enjoy.
6. Go slow
Speaking of speed, remember to go slowly. Again, there isn't any benefit to going from 0 to 100 in 60 seconds or less. More advanced anal play enthusiasts might know that their ideal speed is a little bit faster, but beginners and intermediate explorers should practice patience.
Going too fast (or, along with that, too hard) can cause soft tissue damage. If the penetrating partner is going too fast (or if the recipient is riding faster than they feel comfortable with), you're not going to notice your body's "stop!" queues as quickly as you otherwise would.
Instead of trying to hit a new world record for speed, focus on going slow, observing your body, and enjoy the ride.
Communication is the best tool or technique you can use to improve your sex life. In addition to telling your partner what you want in the moment, talk about it in advance! Plan a sex talk date to talk through the things you're excited for, nervous for, the things that bring you pleasure, and what's off the table.
Safewords and gestures are two helpful communication tools, especially for anal beginners. You might associate them with BDSM or kink, but safe words and gestures are simply ways to quickly communicate a need — that's beneficial for all types of sex.
You might have one word and gesture that signifies "stop" and another for "slow down." Just make sure to share them with your partner and rehearse them so that they're easily understood when you use them!
And just to say it — there's no shame at all in telling your partner what you want while you're having sex. In fact, it can really help out your sex life. Many folks feel shy about this or worried that their partners will be offended. In reality, you're showing them that you trust them and want to have a fulfilling and fun sexual experience together! Tell them that you want more or less of something, if you want harder or softer pressure, faster or slower speed, or if you want to add in a toy (like a clitoral vibrator for extra stimulation).
8. Listen to your body
Remember how I said that anal play is basically a mindfulness exercise? Mindfulness requires you to pay attention to sensations in your body and thoughts that pass through your mind — and so does anal play.
Pain is your body's way of telling you that something is wrong. So, listen to it! Don't try to mute that voice by using numbing creams — they can cover up important signals that your body is trying to share with you. Similarly, don't force yourself to go for longer, harder, faster than you feel comfortable.
Anal fissures are no joke, so don't ignore your body or mind if it's asking for a change, pause, or stop.
Anal aftercare is simply the practice of taking care of you or your partners' mind and body after a sexual experience. Anal play can be really intense and may feel overwhelming! After play is done, plan for time to mentally and physically relax.
That might look like cuddling while wrapped up in a blanket, taking a warm shower or bath, or getting a massage. As you help relax your body, reflect on the experience. What felt good? What didn't? What do you want to try more of and what's in the "no thanks!" pile?
You don't have to debrief with your partner immediately after sex is done, but plan some time to talk through it all together. That'll help you both have mutually pleasurable experiences in the future!
10. Anal training
The anus is a muscle, and like any other muscle in your body, it can be trained to be more flexible. But you wouldn't go from never stretching in your life to trying to do a full split in one fell swoop (and if you did, you would probably hurt yourself) — and you shouldn't take that approach for anal play, either.
Practice makes for more pleasure, and honestly, our eyes are often bigger than our holes. Anal play isn't just a partnered experience — you can try it on your own! Using tools like an anal training kit can be helpful here since they give you some extra control over girth, depth, and other components (like vibration). You can buy sets of butt plugs that graduate in size like the Snug Plug, and you can use these on your own or with a partner during other types of play!
Just as your leg muscles become more flexible, so can your anal muscles! Remember, flexibility develops with time, consistency, and rest, so don't rush through this.
Anal play can be an exciting and pleasurable experience for anyone. So if you're planning on exploring your peach (or a partner's), take these tips with you to the bedroom and have fun!