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Is Anal Sex Safe?: 5 Myths Debunked and Other Tips

Is Anal Sex Safe?: 5 Myths Debunked and Other Tips

Before thinking this article is “bastos” or inappropriate, it is important to note that there are more ways to have sex than the standard missionary position. What partners decide to do together is up to them. Is anal sex safe? Are there any benefits? If you and your partner have been curious about anal sex, keep reading. Learn more about it today.

Is anal sex safe to do?

Getting right to the bottom of this question: yes, anal sex is safe– but only if you do it right. Just like with vaginal intercourse and oral sex, consent is the most important prerequisite. Additionally, all types of intercourse carry different risks and potential for injury. Anal sex should be done after proper preparation and not a moment sooner.

For starters, anal sex is not limited to homosexual male couples. Many men and women also engage in anal sex as a way to spice up their love life or as an alternative to vaginal intercourse. However, this less conventional method of sex is considered taboo in some cultures. Is there any truth to these rumors and misconceptions?

Common misconceptions of anal sex

#1 Only homosexual men do anal sex

This is definitely one of the biggest misconceptions surrounding anal sex. Understandably, if two men decide to engage in sexual intercourse, there would be no vagina. (Aside from rare instances of hermaphroditism). However, anal sex is also performed in straight or heterosexual couples.

Men may penetrate the woman through her anus instead of her vagina. Alternatively, some men feel pleasure when the woman inserts an object or finger into his anus. This does not necessarily mean a man has questionable sexual orientation.

According to several studies, males may have their own so-called G-spot located near the prostate that increases orgasm strength. The best way to stimulate this area is through the anus and rectum. However, many but not all men seem to have this G-spot.

#2 It is how HIV/AIDS is spread

Many people wonder if anal sex is safe due to the fear of HIV/AIDS. Firstly, it is possible to transmit HIV through any mode of intercourse. However, the act of anal penetration is not the direct cause.

HIV is spread through body fluids, such as blood, semen, and vaginal fluid. Therefore, both unprotected vaginal and anal penetration carry a risk. However, injectable drug use through shared needles is another major risk factor.

Anal intercourse is often linked to men who have sex with men (MSM), as this group is the most statistically at-risk for HIV. Due to the difference of the normal flora and anatomy of the anus versus the vagina, anal sex carries a higher risk of injury. When not done carefully, anal penetration can cause tearing, fissures, and exposure to pathogens through these wounds. The risk of transmission is greater for the partner that is the “receiver” or the one being penetrated, although both partners carry some risk of exposure.

However, if both partners are HIV-negative, there is no risk of transmitting HIV to one another as long as you both are monogamous and not exposed to HIV through other ways.

is anal sex safe

#3 It is painful

Penetrative (insertive) sexual intercourse can be painful. This is not exclusive to anal sex but also vaginal sex. In fact, the term for painful vaginal sex is dyspareunia. Note that dyspareunia is not normal; you should get it checked especially if it always occurs during intercourse. Truthfully, the risk of pain is greater with anal sex. This is due to the smaller opening, thinner skin, and lack of self-lubrication, unlike the vagina. Additionally, the anus is highly sensitive due to the number of nerve endings in the area.

#4 It is “dirty” or unhygienic

Naturally, many people have a negative image of anal sex due to the rectum’s association with wastes. While it is a given that our stool passes the rectum and anus, there are ways to keep things clean.

#5 Having anal sex preserves your virginity

Lastly, this misconception is not clear-cut for all people. Virginity has multiple definitions, depending on who you ask. For some people, virginity means never experiencing vaginal intercourse while for others it means never engaging in any type of intercourse– be it oral, vaginal, or anal. There is no way to tell with the naked eye that someone has lost their virginity.

In the vagina, a thin membrane called the hymen is sometimes used to determine if a girl has ever had penetrative vaginal sex. However, it can only be seen upon inspection using special instruments. Additionally, the hymen normally has a hole or perforation to allow menstruation to pass through. Some women have no hymen or tear it through normal activities such as sports or riding a bike. In these cases, it is inaccurate to say a woman has lost her virginity.

In short, the definition of virginity is largely subjective. What is more important are keeping track of your experiences, partners, and being clear with your boundaries. Open communication with your partner is also encouraged.

Safety tips for anal sex

Observe proper hygiene

In order to keep things clean, some people opt to use laxatives and rectal douches to clear out stools and cleanse the area. Stick to using warm water and a mild soap for the skin around the anus. Experts recommend using bulk-forming agents (e.g. psyllium) instead of other types of laxatives, better yet, stick to a fiber-rich diet and plenty of water.

Additionally, if you and your partner plan to do both anal and vaginal sex in one session, it is best to do vaginal sex first. This prevents spreading infection from the anus to the vagina and urethra, which can cause infections such as UTI. Also, stimulating the vagina and clitoris increases lubrication which can make anal sex easier and more enjoyable. Both men and women should cleanse their genital areas before and after sex.

If you decide to use any objects such as sex toys or tools, be sure to properly disinfect and store them before and after each use. Do not share toys with other people to prevent transmitting infection.

Don’t forget to lubricate

As mentioned previously, the anus does not have its own lubrication. Additionally, the skin here is thinner and highly sensitive, which means you need to tread more carefully. Going in dry can be painful and lead to injury. For some people, vaginal lubrication is enough to also lubricate the anus. However, lubricating jelly and other alternatives are also good options. These come in a wide variety of scents, flavors, and other sensations that can make sex more enjoyable for both partners.

Use protection

Like with any type of sex, protection is important. Although anal sex does not carry a risk of getting pregnant, you and your partner can still transmit and receive germs that can lead to infection. STDs are not the only infections to worry about. Due to the natural presence of E. coli in the colon, unprotected anal sex can increase the risk of UTIs in males who insert their penis. Condom use is recommended to prevent the transmission of STDs and other infections.

Don’t force it

At the end of the day, anal sex is not for everyone. There is no shame in trying it or abstaining from it, after all, it all boils down to personal preference. Never feel pressured to do any sort of sexual activity that you are not ready for. If you are curious about trying something new, communicate it with your partner before attempting it. Also remember that what is shown in the media or pornography does not always apply to real life, so avoid comparisons and manage your expectations.

Key Takeaways

In summary, anal sex is safe when done properly. Consent, protection, good hygiene, and generous lubrication are all must-haves if you are considering it. Follow these tips and advice to reduce pain and maximize pleasure.

Learn more about Safe Sex here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

How to have anal sex https://www.avert.org/sex-stis/how-to-have-sex/anal-sex Accessed April 20, 2021

Does anal sex have any health risks? https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/sexual-health/does-anal-sex-have-any-health-risks/ Accessed April 20, 2021

Can anal sex have any long term effects on my body? https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/teens/ask-experts/can-anal-sex-have-any-long-term-effects Accessed April 20, 2021

Condom use problems during anal sex among men who have sex with men (MSM): findings from the Safe in the City Study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3389178/ Accessed April 20, 2021

Prostate‐induced orgasms: A concise review illustrated with a highly relevant case study https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ca.23006 Accessed April 20, 2021

Virginity https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/teens/sex/virginity Accessed April 20, 2021

Anal douching safety tips https://www.sfaf.org/collections/beta/anal-douching-safety-tips/ Accessed April 20, 2021

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Written by Stephanie Nicole Nera, RPh, PharmD Updated Jul 06
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