There are heaps of myths out there about anal sex. A couple of them are based in truth, but many of them are totally false and might actually be preventing us from trying a new sex act that we could really enjoy.
So today, we’re going to dispel some of the most common anal myths and help you separate fact from fiction.
Myth #1: Anal sex isn’t enjoyable for the receiving partner.
There’s a common assumption that anal sex would only feel good for the person penetrating, not the person being penetrated. Fortunately, this is false!
“All people, sexualities, and genders have lots of pleasurable nerve endings and erectile tissue in the anus,” says sex coach Georgia Grace. “In fact, the anus has the second-highest concentration of nerve endings in your body—the clitoris is number one.”
Because of this high concentration of nerve endings, anal sex has the potential to be really pleasurable for the receiving partner. But it’s not just penetrative sex that can feel good—there are heaps of ways to stimulate and awaken all of these nerves even if penetration isn’t your thing. Try using a toy or your fingers on your (or your partner’s) anus; or experiment with massage, rimming, or stimulating the perineum: the soft tissue between the anus and the balls or vulva.
“Anal pleasure is the unsung hero of sex,” Georgia says. “It can be deeply pleasurable, orgasmic and incredibly relaxing.”
Myth #2: Anal sex is painful.
Reality: It can be, but it shouldn’t be.
The ring of muscles at the base of the anus can be quite tight, and yes, trying to force something into those muscles can cause pain. But with the right approach, anal sex doesn’t have to be painful at all.
“Unless it’s something you or your partner is deliberately trying to bring into your sexual experience, pain should never be a factor in sex,” says Georgia. “There’s a lot you can do to have pleasurable anal sex.”
When it comes to anal, slower is better. If you’re penetrating a partner or yourself, take it super slowly and never try to push past any resistance or pain you might feel. If something hurts, it’s a sign to stop whatever you’re doing and try again another time.
“We typically see anal sex—and all sex, really—being depicted as hard and fast fucking,” Georgia says. “This can feel great in the right context with a sufficient amount of arousal, but it’s just one way to have anal sex. Start slow and slow it down even more. Then, when it feels good, play with speed and rhythm.”
And don’t forget the lube. Which brings us to our next myth...
Myth #3: You don’t need lube for anal sex.
Couples in porn often don’t go through the extensive process of thorough lube application, but that doesn’t mean that lube isn’t needed for anal.
Unlike the vagina, the anus is not self-lubricating—so it’s really, really important that you do use lube when experimenting with anal penetration. It reduces friction, which lessens your chance of experiencing any injuries like skin tears. Lube can also be fun to use when trying external stimulation of the anus: if you’re just massaging the perineum, for example, lube can help keep everything nice and slippery down there.
The general rule is that however much lube you think you might need, double it. Always lube up for anal—your body will thank you later.
Myth #4: Enjoying anal play makes you ‘gay’.
This myth is false. Although, we want to make the point that even if it was true, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being gay.
We want to counter this belief because we think it relies on the assumption that ‘being gay’ is a bad thing, and that’s not true. We also reckon it can also make a lot of people—particularly straight guys—feel nervous or ashamed about experimenting with the butt, and we never want anyone to feel bad about exploring their sexuality in a healthy, happy way. Anal sex can be amazingly pleasurable, and the prostate can add a whole new dimension to that pleasure. We’d never want anyone to miss out on that if they’re keen to try it.
The only thing that makes you gay is deciding, for yourself, that you are gay. Anything else, like enjoying anal play or penetration, is simply one small personal characteristic in the vast universe of things that makes you, you.
“Let’s be clear here,” says Georgia, “Liking anal sex doesn’t say anything about your sexuality. Your anus is an erogenous zone, and it simply feels good to touch it.”
And if you’re not fully convinced, let’s look at the stats: a 2003 Australian survey found that almost 5% of people had tried anal sex during their last heterosexual sexual encounter. Heaps of hetero people are trying, and enjoying, anal—let’s not hold ourselves back from enjoying it too.
Myth #5: Anal sex can be messy.
There’s no two ways about it: the anus is where poo comes from, and when you put something inside the anus, you do run the risk of finding poo there. The good news is that it most likely won’t be a lot.
Poo isn’t stored in the same part of our anus that is usually reached by a finger, toy, or penis—it’s much further up. Poo is stored in the colon until it becomes full, at which point it moves down into the rectum and our brain receives a signal that the rectum needs to be emptied. When we go to the toilet, poo passes through the anus on the way out of our bodies: so, yes, there might be a few traces of it left if we go in for some anal play or penetration afterwards. But we’re unlikely to have a full bowel movement spontaneously on our partner or our toy, because that amount of poo just isn’t stored within reach.
If you’re concerned about poo during anal, we recommend going to the bathroom before sex and then cleaning up with some unscented baby wipes or a very mild soap. You can also try douching if you want. But ultimately, our bodies are unpredictable and we can’t always control every inch of ourselves. We hope everyone has a partner mature enough to understand that sometimes a little bit of poo during anal is unavoidable—if they can’t accept this, it may be time to eliminate the partner, not the poo.
Myth #6: Anal sex requires heaps and heaps of preparation.
Reality: ...kind of.
The internet is full of articles that recommend preparing for anal sex by taking fibre supplements weeks in advance or doing a full-on colon cleanse the day before. We don’t think this amount of preparation is necessary (although if it’s something you’d enjoy, by all means, give it a try).
The kind of anal prep we reckon is the most important is talking to your partner, clarifying your boundaries, discussing what you each might enjoy, and deciding what you’ll do if one of you wants to stop. Having these kind of open and honest conversations before trying any new sex act is really important, and is bound to be beneficial for you during the act.
“Whether you are giving or receiving, it’s important that you talk about it first. And if this is going to be a new experience, discuss your boundaries, your no-go zones, and curiosities,” says Georgia.
A chat with your partner, some lube, and a quick shower beforehand—that’s the kind of anal prep we recommend.
Myth #7: You don’t need to use protection for anal.
Technically, it’s not possible to get pregnant from anal sex because the reproductive organs and the anus don’t connect. If a person ejaculates into your anus, their ejaculate (or cum, in other words) can’t travel through the body and end up in the uterus to fertilise an egg—there’s simply no passage for it to get there.
However, pregnancy can still occur if cum gets into the vagina in another way, like on a person’s finger’s, hands, toys, mouth, or if it drips down there from another part of the body. STIs can also be transmitted through anal sex, and from transferring bodily fluids like cum into the anus on your hands, mouth, or a toy.
We always recommend using protection, like condoms, during anal sex. If you and your partner decide you’d like to stop using protection with each other, we recommend getting an STI test prior to going protection-free—but keep in mind that because pregnancy can still occur during anal sex, an additional form of contraception might still be necessary.
Myth #8: You can injure yourself having anal sex.
Reality: It’s unlikely, but it can happen.
There are heaps of urban myths around anal sex injuries—we’ve all heard terrifying tales of people who tried anal sex once and could never go to the bathroom comfortably again!
We reckon these stories are just that—myths—but we do want to stress that if you’re using the wrong kind of toy for anal penetration, going too hard or too fast, or not using enough lube, there is a chance you can injure yourself. The delicate skin of the anus can be torn by sharp objects (like fingernails and pointed bits of plastic) and friction (caused by too much rubbing and not enough lubrication), so our advice of ‘go slow and use lots of lube!’ will go a long way in preventing any potential injuries.
Another common injury can be caused by using the wrong kind of toy for anal penetration. Anal toys should always have a flared base on one end, so the toy doesn’t go completely into the anus—if it does, it can travel up into the colon and will need to be removed by a medical professional.
Myth #9: Anal sex is all about penetration.
Penetration, with a penis or a toy, can definitely be a big part of anal sex—but anal sex is about more than just being penetrated.
“Anal is not all about hard and fast penetration,” says Georgia. “Penetration is just one type of anal sex. There are many, many ways to have anal sex, and it can involve devices, fingers, penises...you name it.”
Anal sex can also include things like rimming (kissing or licking the anus), touching and stroking the bum cheeks and the area around the anus, or penetration with a finger or a small toy. If the thought of being penetrated with something comparatively large doesn’t appeal, don’t worry—there are many other ways to engage with the pleasure centre that is the anus!
Myth #10: Everyone loves anal.
Look, we’re big fans of experimenting with anal, and we highly recommend that you give it a try if it appeals to you. But we’re fully aware that not everyone is into anal: some people never want to try it, others have tried it once and didn’t enjoy it, and some people only like certain elements of it—some enjoy rimming but hate penetration, for example.
Don’t let yourself believe that everyone is having amazing, wild anal sex except for you. If anal isn’t something that’s on your list to try, that’s totally cool. There are endless other ways you can enjoy exploring your body solo or with a partner that are sexy, fulfilling, and just as enjoyable as anal sex. Promise.