10 Rules of Anal Sex
Jack Morin, PhD, a San Francisco sex therapist and researcher,
is the author of Anal Pleasure & Health: A Guide for
Men and Women.
Anal eroticism is surrounded by a powerful taboo. Yet millions
of men and women-straight, gay and bisexual --- are experimenting
with anal sex. The anus, richly endowed with nerve endings
and interconnected with the main pelvic muscles, is the
closest erogenous neighbor of the genitals and contracts
rhythmically during orgasm. Thirty-five years ago, Kinsey
stated that the anal area had erotic significance for about
half of the population. In a recent survey of 100,000 Playboy
readers, 47 percent of the men and 61 percent of the women
admitted having tried anal intercourse.
Yet the anal taboo inhibits most people from thinking,
talking and learning about the sexual use of the anus. Listed
here are the ten things most men and women still do not
know about anal sex.
1. Anal intercourse is the least frequently practiced form
of anal sex. There are many ways to enjoy the anus erotically.
The most common techniques include touching the anal opening
with a finger while masturbating or stimulating a partner’s
anus during intercourse or oral sex.
Some people enjoy the sensation of a finger - their own
or a lover's - insinuated into their anal opening and gently
rotated. Others may prefer the insertion of a dildo or vibrator
beyond the anal opening and short anal canal into the larger
rectum. Many men, including heterosexuals, favor this form
Oral-anal lovemaking is popularly known as rimming. The
very idea disgusts some people. Others enjoy performing
it or allowing themselves to be probed in this special way.
2. Anal stimulation, including intercourse, is not painful
if done properly. The belief that anal stimulation, especially
intercourse, has to hurt is a persistent and dangerous myth.
Just as pain anywhere in the body indicates that something
is wrong, so is the same true of the anal area. With its
high concentrations of nerve endings, the anus can produce
extreme agony when it is mistreated. Yet it can also be
a source of great pleasure.
When a finger, object or penis is introduced into the anus,
the anal muscles go into a spasm, as if fighting off invasion.
Pain will result if the partners do not wait for these muscles
to relax. Under sufficient stress they will eventually collapse
and the pain subside, unless further damage is done. But
any "pleasure" afforded from this kind of activity
derives mostly from the absence of discomfort.
Maximum anal pleasure requires the elimination of all pain
or physical trauma from the anal experience. Self-protection
on the part of the passive partner involves being ready
to say "no" until he or she is ready to proceed.
Readiness is a combination of physical relaxation, usually
helped along by plenty of leisurely anal touching, and desire.
Occasionally the anal muscles are relaxed, but the passive
partner is still not in the mood. Stimulation should mount
only in proportion to the degree of receptivity.
3. Anal sex can be enjoyed even if it has been consistently
uncomfortable in the past. Sufficient desire alone does
not necessarily guarantee pleasurable anal sex. Nor is an
uncomfortable previous experience always the reason for
a lack of interest in or desire for anal sex.
Chronic anal tension is the most common cause of anal discomfort
during sex. Hemorrhoids and constipation are usually a sign
of this condition. Tension can be relieved by touching the
anus and becoming more familiar with it. An ideal time to
explore the anal opening is while taking a shower or bath.
Deep breathing also affects the anal muscles. Tensing the
anus and then letting go is another way of learning to relax
it. Anyone who enjoys masturbation might want to experiment
with some form of anal stimulation, though he or she should
stop if any discomfort occurs.
For many people the turning point in anal sex is when they
allow a partner to massage the anus with the understanding
that intercourse will not be attempted. Then the recipient
of anal caresses can concentrate solely on the pleasure
this erogenous zone is capable of generating.
4. Two muscle rings called sphincters surround the anal
opening. Each functions independently.
If you insert a finger about one half-inch into your anus
and press your fingertip against the side, you can clearly
feel the two sphincter muscles. There is less than a quarter-inch
between them. The external sphincter is controlled by the
central nervous system - just like the muscles of the hand,
for example. You can readily tense and relax this sphincter
whenever you want.
The internal sphincter is quite different. This muscle
is controlled by the involuntary or autonomic part of the
nervous system, which governs such functions as heartbeat
and stress response.
Thus the internal sphincter reflects and responds to fear
and anxiety during anal sex. It will cause the anus to tense
UP automatically even if the passive partner is trying to
relax. Thus precautions about safety and comfort are essential
Even if a person does feel comfortable during anal sex,
he or she may still need to learn voluntary control over
his or her internal sphincter in order to relax it at will.
Doing so requires regularly inserting a finger, perhaps
in the shower each day, and feeling the internal sphincter.
The muscle changes spontaneously and in response to behavior.
In this instance, simply paying attention is more important
than trying to relax. Gradually, anyone can learn to control
the internal sphincter at will.
5. Anal stimulation provides many kinds of pleasure.
The highest concentration of nerve endings is around the
anal opening itself. A finger can focus on them and be especially
effectively. When an object or penis is inserted beyond
the anal opening into the rectum, other pleasures are involved.
The outer portion of the rectum, like the vagina, has several
nerve endings. The inner portion responds mostly to pressure.
Some people enjoy the feeling of pressure and fullness,
once they understand that these sensations do not presage
an impending bowel movement. Rectal pressure is especially
important to enthusiasts of "fisting", a form
of anal sex in which several fingers or even the entire
hand and forearm are inserted into the rectum and sometimes
into the lower colon.
In men, the prostate - which is just beyond the rectal
wall a few inches in, toward the front of the body - can
be a source of pleasure when massaged by a finger, an object,
or a penis. Also, the lower end of the penis, or "bulb,"
is near the anal opening. It is stimulated indirectly by
most types of anal sex.
Anal pleasure can be psychological as well as physical.
The anal taboo adds to the thrill of the forbidden. The
most common anti-anal message (it's dirty!) sometimes returns
as a source of raunchy, sleazy excitement. Rimming enthusiasts
may enjoy the feeling that they are being disgustingly -
and delightfully - perverse. Other people regard the anus
as a secret, special place. Sharing it with a partner is
an act of openness and giving.
6. Anal stimulation can lead to orgasm. A minority of men
and women can respond orgasmically to anal sex without direct
genital stimulation. Women probably do so through pelvic
muscular contractions - and a small minority even through
the sheer excitement of being anally penetrated. When men
experience an orgasm from anal stimulation, they seem to
focus on the prostate. No doubt they are also responding
to indirect stimulation of the penile bulb.
Orgasms from anal stimulation are most likely to occur
when the participants become thoroughly absorbed in their
sensations and fantasies. An almost certain way to prevent
such an orgasm is to become determined to have one. Seeking
an anal orgasm will create new pressures and disrupt the
It must be remembered that most people require direct genital
stimulation in order to climax. On the other hand, a few
people have orgasms only with anal stimulation.
7. Diet contributes to the enjoyment of anal sex.
Regular bowel movements are the major function of the anus
and the rectum. There must be sufficient fiber in a person's
diet to make his or her feces soft, bulky and well formed.
This allows a bowel movement to be produced without force
or effort. Forced evacuations irritate anal tissues, causing
discomfort and adding to muscular tension. Fresh fruits,
vegetables, whole grains or unprocessed bran are important
sources of fiber.
8. Different rules of hygiene apply to the vagina and rectum.
Since intercourse can be vaginal or rectal, many people
assume that the same rules apply for the penetration of
the vagina and rectum. Although both are lined with soft
tissue and are capable of expanding, they are radically
The rectum is not straight. After the short anal canal,
which connects the anal opening to the rectum, the rectum
tilts toward the front of the body. A few inches in, it
curves back - sometimes as much as 90 degrees. Then, after
a few more inches, it swoops toward the front of the body
once again. A person can learn about the shape of his or
her rectum by gently inserting a soft object, trying different
angles and body positions and concentrating on how it feels.
Make sure the object has a flared base so that if you lose
your grip, it won't slip into the rectum and become irretrievable.
The rectum does not produce lubrication like the vagina
but only a small amount of mucus. Therefore, rectal penetration
always requires a lubricant. Chemical additives should be
avoided. Water-soluble lubricants are easier to clean up.
The main function of the rectum is to act as a passageway
for feces. But feces are not normally stored in the rectum
except just prior to a bowel movement. Yet small amounts
may remain in the rectum, especially if the feces are not
well formed. Anal douching before lovemaking will help some
people especially concerned with cleanliness to relax. For
others the idea of dirtiness heightens the joy of the forbidden;
for them, douching is anti-erotic.
9. Anal intercourse is not necessarily a form of dominance
The top-bottom imagery associated with anal intercourse
is widespread. No doubt the belief that anal sex has to
hurt contributes to this notion. And in fact some people
are intensely excited by top-bottom fantasies about anal
sex. The thought that they are submitting to such a degrading
act is a terrific thrill. However, actual, not fantasized,
anal pain can lead to trouble.
For others, the enjoyment of anal sex is inhibited-by top-bottom
imagery. The idea of surrendering control, and perhaps submitting
to humiliation, causes immediate, protective tensing of
the anal muscles. These individuals are more likely to relax
and enjoy themselves if they can learn to regard anal sex
as pleasurable rather than as an expression of power.
10. Anal sex can be perfectly safe, even beneficial.
The taboo against anal eroticism is perpetuated by the
almost universal belief among physicians that anal sex is
inevitably dangerous. No physical injury from anal stimulation
results if both partners refuse to tolerate pain, never
use force and avoid the use of drugs.
All of the other risks center on sexually transmitted diseases.
Each of the common STDs - gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes -
can affect the anus. Intestinal parasites, bacteria or tiny
bugs are usually passed along when fecal matter finds its
way into someone's mouth or vagina, most likely through
AIDS has complicated the matter. The HIV virus can pass
from the semen or blood of an infected person to the bloodstream
of a partner through a tiny break in the rectal tissue during
To avoid this risk, anal intercourse and rimming should
not be practiced casually. Those who do enjoy anal intercourse
should always use a condom. Rimming should always be accompanied
by a latex barrier. Of course, in a monogamous relationship
with two healthy people, the risk of disease transmitted
anally is reduced.
Thousands of men and women with chronic anal medical problems
have restored their anal health by challenging their negative
attitudes. This approach is indispensable for full erotic
enjoyment of the anus.
Adapted from Forum, June 1984.
From Jack Morin's book, Anal Pleasure & Health