This month’s column focuses on anal play for women. There are many taboos around anal play for men and women. In July I published a column on anal play for men. As you may have read in that column anal play can directly stimulate a man’s prostate gland which is a key organ in men’s arousal. Women do not have a prostate gland – yet anal play for women can still be fun and orgasmic. There are many myths about anal play: it’s immoral; it’s weird; only sluts do anal sex; anal sex is dirty; anal sex is painful; only gay men have anal sex. Tristan Taoramino’s book The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women dispels these myths in the first chapter. Anal play (and anal sex) can be fun, clean and wonderful when approached in a positive way. Spend some time thinking about what you know or think about anal play and anal sex. Then try to identify how you know this information. Much of what we know about sex is not from good education but more from social messages.
How Many Women Engage in Anal Sex?
The Sex in Australia study published in 2003 reported less than 1% of Australian women surveyed (n = 7,698) had anal sex in their most recent sexual encounter (note MOST recent encounter) 1. This was similar in the US-based study of sexual behaviours conducted in 2009 where the most recent counter included anal sex for 3.5% of women survey (n = 883). Anal sex for these women was more frequent in 18-24 year olds (5.5%) followed by 40-49 year olds (4.8%) 2. Women’s lifetime experiences of anal sex, in Herbenick’s and colleagues study, was 20% for young women (18-19 yrs), this grew to 40% for 20 to 24 year olds and peaked at 46% for 25-29 year old women 3. Around two out of five women between 30 and 49 had experienced anal sex in their lifetime, while this dropped to approximately one-third for women aged 50-69 years. One in five women aged over 70 had had anal sex in their life time3. So anal sex is more common than people think, yet not as common as other forms of sex play.
Anal Play and Enjoyment
It is fun! (Or can be if you know what you are doing – more about that later.) Some women experience orgasms through anal play while others report a sense of closeness with their partners. Anal play can be exciting, because of the social taboos challenges what society says is normal – a perception of breaking the rules.
The How To’s
Communicate – talk to each other. It is important to discuss what you want (and don’t want) when it comes to anal play. As part of the talking about it strategy is to talk about when to stop (THINK: safe word – like your most disliked footy team; When this word is said it is clear you mean stop/no!) Spend some time researching together with your partner or even by yourself to get ideas. There are many blogs about anal sex and each one offers something different. Getting Ready – The anus is generally clear of faeces unless it is time evacuate your bowel. You may consider douching if you are really worried – but really it is not necessary. I would suggest having a shower or bath together beforehand as it helps set the mood and also will assist both partners to relax. Relaxing is one of the keys. First things first – Start with a massage and let your partner focus on massaging your buttocks and down to your perineum. This will assist you to relax. Another relaxing technique, for the pelvic floor muscles anyway, is imagine breathing down through body and out your anus as you breathe out of your mouth. You’re in control – it is important to remember you are the one in control of this sexual encounter. You decide when you are ready and in what position you will start and how it will start. Many people (women and men) internalise their fears of anal sex and this translates into tensing, muscles, especially the pelvic floor muscles. Tension in the pelvic floor does not make for easy and comfortable entry. Start small and build up – I would not recommend by starting off by trying to insert a dildo, vibrator or penis (unless it is small) to begin. Try starting with a small bullet vibrator around the anus area, or use a finger or small anal toy, to allow the anal sphincter muscles to get use to action and for you to relax. Any toys used on in anal play need to have a flared base. As you get use to the feelings and sensations (and you begin to relax more) then try for something a bit bigger – maybe your partner’s penis. Lubricate for good times – lubricant is the key. Not spit, not soap, not an oil-based lubricant. Try using a silicon lubricant (such as offered by Pjur, it lasts longer) or a good quality water-based lubricant which is a necessity if playing with toys (like Intimate Organics). Lubricant will help with entry and motion and also ease the discomfort some people feel as they pass through the anus/anal sphincters. Good anal sex lubricants are designed to help relax the muscles as well as lubricate, but it is important to use good quality organic lubricants if venturing down this path. Position makes perfect – Try a position which is comfortable for you. The all-fours-taken-from-behind position may be a little daunting initially. A position which provides comfort for you and a level of control will help you to relax those pelvic floor muscles. A side-spoon position will provide a comfortable position and not allow deep penetration. It is also easy for your partner to reach around and stimulate your vulva adding to the pleasure. Another position which provides you with control is you sitting on the toy or penis. You can control the entry if you are comfortable in squat potion. Once you are used to anal play, try the doggie position. It is a good way to achieve orgasm and also gives you free access to your genitals too. The no-no, never – Never go from anal to vaginal play/intercourse. Wash your finger/s, hand, toy/s, penis or mouth. It is possible to transfer anal flora to the vagina as well as germs and this can be problematic.
A Final Word
Discuss, relax and enjoy. I always state to the partner of a woman, that if he wants anal sex with his partner, then he should be prepared to take something as big if not bigger than his penis in his own anus. It is a good way to get a man to think about why their partner may not be sure and also is good way to open lines of communication about anal play and anal sex. Remember, a healthy life includes a healthy sex life. A healthy sex life is sane, safe and (con)sensual.
Dr Christopher Fox is a Psychosexual and Relationship Therapist at Sex Life Therapy in Melbourne. He has clinics in East Melbourne and Frankston. References: 1 de Visser, R.O., Smith, A.M.A., Rissel, C.E., Richters, J., & Grulich, A.E. (2003). Sex in Australia: Heterosexual experience and recent heterosexual encounters among a representative sample of adults. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 27,2, 146-154. et al, 203) 2 Herbenick, D., Reece, M., Schick, V., Sanders, S. A., Dodge, B., & Fortenberry, J. D. (2010). An Event-Level Analysis of the Sexual Characteristics and Composition Among Adults Ages 18 to 59: Results from a National Probability Sample in the United States. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7, 346-361. 3 Herbenick, D., Reece, M., Schick, V., Sanders, S. A., Dodge, B., & Fortenberry, J. D. (2010). Sexual Behavior in the United States: Results from a National Probability Sample of Men and Women Ages 14–94. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7, 255-265. Disclaimer: The information contained in this document should be read as general in nature and is only to provide an overview of the subject matter covered. Please read product packaging carefully and follow all instructions.