The following is the full Ask LSOP #4 question and answer, featured in the Little Shop of Pleasures June 2016 newsletter.
Dear LSOP Experts,
My boyfriend wants us to have anal sex. We’ve tried it, and it hurts. What can I do to make it easier?
Anal penetration shouldn’t hurt! If it hurts, that’s your body telling you that something is wrong, and you should stop and figure out what’s up. Your anus is delicate, and hurting it can result in major health issues. If you (or any readers) have a partner who is pressuring you to have anal sex when you don’t want to, or are unwilling to consider your safety in the matter, this is not a person that you want to have anal sex with. If anal penetration is truly something you want to explore, don’t let the potential risk deter you, P. Rather, let it inform your safer practices! With an awesome partner who listens to you, goes slowly, communicates, and knows that “stop” means stop, fun and safe anal sex is achievable.
Lesson Number 1: Anal sex can, and should feel good
I’d like to begin by explaining briefly why anal sex can (and should) be pleasurable. Lots of folk are under the impression that it’s just an awful-feeling thing that receiving partners do for the giving partner’s enjoyment, and that should never be the case. The potential for pleasure exists because of the anal muscles and tissue being intricately entwined with those of your reproductive organs. The muscles of your anus and genitalia are closely connected to the pelvic floor, and are part of the action when the pelvic contractions of orgasm take place. Because of this, touching of the anus can be just as erogenous as touching any other part of their pelvic region.
Lesson Number 2: Anal training does not equal anal stretching
I’d like to make sure that you know that stretching the anus to accommodate a penis or toy is not the goal. Your anal sphincters and anus are fully capable of expanding to the diameter of your average penis/toy- so what you are trying to do is relax and show your body that allowing object to pass into the anus (rather than out) can be pleasurable. For some folks this happens pretty quickly, and for others it can be a bit of a process. Part of the impediments you encounter will be strictly physical- it’s not a sensation your body is used to, and it can take a while to adapt. The other impediments may be psychological, which is harder to change.
Lesson Number 3: Anal train your brain
Things you’ve been taught or heard over the years, social stigma, and the general aversion we as a culture have towards the anus because of its association with fecal matter and dirtiness can all contribute to a subconscious that works against you and your anal sex goals. Doing what you need to do to combat all that bad psychological mojo is a necessary element of the process of anal training. I can’t tell you what will work for you, but an example of an exercise that is commonly suggested by sex educators and therapists is positively re-framing negative thoughts. For example, if you can’t help thinking “I’m gross/bad/whatever for doing this”, try telling yourself “this is a healthy, safe, and valid method of expressing my sexuality and obtaining pleasure”. Unless being told you’re bad is helpful, then chastise away…
Lesson Number 4: Lube, lube, and more lube
Lube is crucial to any and all anal activity. Unlike the vagina, the anus self lubricates only very minimally. So grab your favourite anal lube, and distribute it liberally onto and into the anus, and anything going into it. The rule of lube is to take what you think you need, and double it.
Now that you have had a brief anal education, you’re ready for practical application. To start, the next time you shower, gently touch the outside of your anal opening. Chances are that you’re like many folks, and haven’t given this area of your body much attention before. Once you feel comfortable, possibly several showers later, use a finger to slowly penetrate yourself. At this point you’ll probably notice that there are two distinct rings of muscle that create the anal sphincter. You’ll probably also notice that while you are consciously in control of the first muscle, the second has a mind of its own. This is because the second muscle is controlled by your autonomic nervous system. Controlling it is not impossible, but requires a little bit of reprogramming. In order to do this, we recommend incorporating anal stimulation into your masturbation sessions before introducing them into couple’s play. Stimulation of other erogenous zones (your clitoris, penis, vagina/g-spot, or any other part of your body that you enjoy being stimulated during a sexual experience) during anal stimulation is incredibly beneficial to the process of teaching your body and brain to understand that anal stimulation is pleasurable, and a part of the action it already knows and loves.
Mastering Anal Sex
Once you’ve become comfortable touching, and then pleasuring yourself anally, you can start slowly working it back into couple’s play. You should now be better acquainted with this often neglected part of your body, and thus better able to direct your lover through the same stages that you went through. Start by incorporating non-penetrative touch into sexual encounters, and once you are comfortable, penetration with fingers, or a small toy. The rest is really up to you, and your particular tastes and preferences. The important thing for everyone to remember is that communication is key! Always let your partner know if something needs to change, or stop entirely.
I hope that this answers your question, P. There’s so much to be said about anal sex, and this is really only a beginner’s introduction. For more information, check out Ask LSOP #1, where we discuss what lubes are best for anal play.
Interested in appearing (anonymously) in the Ask LSOP section of next month’s newsletter? Submit your questions about relationships, sex, adult toys, or lingerie, and our team of sexperts will find you the answers! Email your questions to [email protected] with the subject header “Ask LSOP”.