What is anal play?
Anal play is any kind of sexual activity that involves your butt. This can include:
• Putting fingers around/inside someone’s butt
• Putting a tongue around/inside someone’s butt (rimming)
• Putting a penis* inside someone’s butt
• Putting a dildo or other sex toy inside someone’s butt
• Putting a hand inside someone’s butt (fisting)
Facts about anal play
ANYONE can give, receive and enjoy anal play: Anyone of any gender or sexual orientation can enjoy anal play, on their own or with a partner(s), as long as it is done safely and with everyone’s consent. Not everyone enjoys it and that’s okay too.
Anal play is healthy and normal and can feel good: Many of us are taught that anal play is wrong and that your anus wasn’t designed for sexual purposes. Yet there are thousands of sensitive nerve endings in and around your butt and it can be very pleasurable.
Anal play doesn’t have to be messy: Some people like to bathe before anal play to clean the anal area, but no extraordinary measures are necessary to engage in anal play. Some people prefer to put down a towel or plastic sheet before play starts and/or have wipes nearby just in case.
Anatomy of your butt
• Perineum: the area between the anus and either the scrotum (balls) or the opening of the vagina*. It is often a pleasurable place to be touched.
• Anus: the opening of your butt, made of soft, wrinkled tissue. This tissue is very sensitive and responds to touch and stimulation. Most people have hair surrounding their anus. Some people choose to remove it and some people don’t.
*We know that these aren’t the words everyone uses for their bodies (eg. trans folks) and support you using the language that feels best for you.
• Sphincter muscles: the muscles just inside your butt that surround the anus. There is an external sphincter and an internal one. These are the muscles that relax or contract to allow things to move in and out of your butt.
• Anal canal: this canal runs 1-2 inches long into the rectum. It can also be very responsive to touch and the tissue becomes engorged when you are aroused. If you (and your sphincter muscles) are relaxed, the canal can expand.
• Rectum: beyond the anal canal, the rectum is about 5 inches of soft, smooth tissue that can expand a lot. Feces is not stored here. When your body is ready for a bowel movement, feces moves into the rectum, then the anal canal and out the anus. This leaves only trace amounts of feces in the anal canal and anus, which is easily removed with soap and water.
• Prostate: a gland in people with testicles** that produces semen. Technically, it is not inside the butt; it’s actually below the bladder. However, it can be felt through the anal canal and stimulated through anal play. This can be very pleasurable.
Preparation and tips
• Happy and healthy butt: getting lots of fibre in your diet and drinking enough water helps keep your rectum healthy.
• Anal play does NOT cause conditions like recurring constipation,diarrhea or hemorrhoids, but if you already have these conditions, you may want to avoid anal play until your butt is feeling better.
**People with testicles are usually designated male at birth. People with penises don’t always identify as male.
• To avoid small tears and cuts, ensure your nails are short and smooth and/or wear a latex or nitrile glove.
• Empty bowels: having a bowel movement before anal play can make it more comfortable. Do not hold a bowel movement in. If you feel like you need to go, then do so.
• Enemas: some people like to squirt liquids (including water) up their butts to clean them out. You can purchase enema kits at pharmacies or sex shops, or make your own at home. Using enemas too often or using harsh chemicals can irritate the tissue and make it more prone to tearing.
• Talk about it: before you start, make sure you and your partner(s) agree on what things you will and will not try. During anal play, talk about what feels good and what doesn’t.
• Start on the outside: relax the area by touching near and around the outside of the anus with toys or fingers for at least 15 minutes before going inside the butt. If and when you are ready to try something inside, start with small toys or body parts until you and your partner(s) feel ready moving to something bigger.
• Take your time: feeling relaxed, breathing and being patient are key to enjoying anal play. If you are feeling stressed out, you may want to save anal play for another time.
• Lube: the anus doesn’t naturally get wet, so have lots of lubricants on hand. Keep in mind that oil-based lubricants can break down latex condoms and silicone-based lubricants don’t work well with silicone toys. Use lots of lube and re-apply often.
• Toys: some people like to use toys for anal play. Make sure anything you put in your butt or someone else’s is: smooth, unbreakable, flexible, clean, comfortable in size and has a flared base so that it can be gripped and removed easily. Putting condoms on toys can help keep them clean.
• Using drugs and/or alcohol can make it harder to make informed choices and to pay attention to how you and your body are responding to anal play.
• Pregnancy: anal play doesn’t put you at risk of pregnancy unless there is ejaculate (cum) near or around the vulva*.
• STIs: anal play can pass on sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Using condoms on sex toys and penises, gloves on hands and dental dams (or condoms cut up one side) for oral sex can reduce your risk.
• Protecting the vagina*: don’t put a toy or body part into anyone’s vagina that has been used in anyone’s butt without washing or putting a new condom on it first. Moving bacteria from the butt into the vagina can cause an infection.
• It can be difficult to find reliable, health-based information about anal play online. For more information, check out the books ‘The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women’ (Tristan Taormino) or ‘Anal Pleasure and Health: A Guide for Men and Women’ (Jack Morrison).Download