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Does Anal Hurt? How to Prepare For Anal Sex

Tips For Painless Anal Sex — Alone or With a Partner

Different anal sex toys set on a yellow background.

Anal sex can cause discomfort for a number of reasons. The speed of insertion, type of lubrication, and lack of communication between you and your partner(s) could be contributing factors to feeling nearly impenetrable during anal sex. If it's your first time exploring the possibilities of anal sex, you may have increased tightness or even feel pain. To learn how to avoid painful anal sex — alone or with a partner — POPSUGAR spoke to sex and relationship coach Angela Rosario about how to prepare for anal sex, along with tips for ensuring a comfortable experience for all parties involved.

How to Prepare For Anal Sex: Self-Pleasure

Even if you have a partner, Rosario recommends exploring anal sex on your own first. You can play with yourself by gently using a finger or two to rub over your anal area to see if you enjoy the sensation. Once you're ready to go inside, you can look for a toy. Here are some tips from Rosario on what to look for in a beginner toy. The toy should:

  • Be made of silicone or glass.
  • Have a flared base.
  • Have a long, tapered tip.
  • Be meant for anal play. The website description or store associate, if you're doing in-person shopping, will be able to let you know.

Note: Only use toys intended for anal sex, not food or other random objects.

Choose a lubricant that's appropriate for the toy you've picked up. "A silicone lube is usually the best for anal sex because it takes longer to dry out, but you don't want to use silicone lubricant with a silicone product . . . You can use a quality water-based lubricant or a water-based gel if you are using a silicone product," Rosario said. If you ever feel pain while exploring, stop what you're doing and try again with an ample amount of lubricant while inserting slowly. Don't force anything. Take your time to get used to it. After you get comfortable with your beginning set, you may look into exploring further with anal dilation sets. These are sets of toys that gradually increase in size so you can train your anus to use larger-sized toys or prepare to be intimate (anally) with a partner.

How to Prepare For Anal Sex: With a Partner

Similarly to preparing for anal sex on your own, when getting ready to be intimate with a partner, make sure you are using lube that's right for the both of you. While numbing lube does exist, Rosario doesn't advise using it for anal play. "I actually recommend [numbing lubricant] more for painful vaginal penetration; I don't recommend using an anal desensitizer when you're having anal sex with yourself or with someone else because you want to make sure that you're feeling everything, and it'll help you not push yourself to help prevent pain." Below are a few more of Rosario's tips for preventing pain:

  • As your partner or your toy is penetrating your anus, push out slightly to help ease insertion. "Your anal cavity . . . [will] naturally tighten, it'll tighten up the muscles to protect itself. Just slowly and gently pull out, push outwards as someone is penetrating you or as you're being penetrated, and that will help you relax a lot more."
  • Incorporate foreplay with external stimulation.
  • Prior to, during, and after anal sex, communicate with your partner(s) to ensure that all parties are having a good time. Establishing and maintaining constant communication can also help with relaxation.

Reminder: Take your time with insertion; don't force anything.

After Anal Sex

Once playtime is over, it's time to clean up. Rosario recommends washing externally with water and a gentle cleanser. Avoid douching, and "don't insert anything to try and cleanse yourself [internally]," she said. Rosario wants you to know that "it is very common to have diarrhea . . . or feel really stopped up after anal sex." If you feel any soreness, take a warm bath for about five minutes for relief.

Does Anal Sex Hurt?

You may experience some initial discomfort having anal sex but shouldn't feel pain. If you're on your own, take a moment to relax before trying again, or give it a go on a different day. But if you experience pain having anal sex with a partner, stop what you're doing and evaluate if you'd like to try a different position (like doggy style or on your side) or if you want to try again another time. Note: if you ever experience rectal bleeding, speak with your provider.

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