It’s a running joke that anal sex is a gift that straight, cis women ‘give’ their straight, cis male partners on their birthday. This informs so much of how we think about anal play – about who can get pleasure from it, and about what it means if you enjoy it. If you are engaging in anal play, it should be (and can be!) pleasurable for everyone involved.
No matter what your gender or sexuality is, here are four reasons why you should consider exploring anal play:
There’s an assumption that anal play – especially if you’re a person with a vulva – is going to be painful. Sex should never be painful, unless it’s carefully negotiated, consensual kink. Anal play might cause some discomfort, but you should stop if it’s downright painful. To minimise that discomfort, you need to use lots and lots of lube (seriously: you can’t have too much lube) and go slowly. It’s important to warm up when it comes to anal play and work up from a single finger or small butt plug to a large dildo or penis.
As well as not being painful, anal play can be actively pleasurable. If you have a prostate, blood flow to it increases when you’re aroused, causing it to swell and become more sensitive. Anal play can perfectly stimulate that cluster of nerves in a way that incredibly good. Prostate orgasms are often described as a fully-body, intensely pleasurable experience. If you have a vulva, you still have a load of never endings in and around the anus, and pressure on your vaginal wall (often called the a-spot) can feel good too.
Whatever genitals you have, you can enjoy the feeling of fullness and the connection with your partner that comes with anal play. While all kinds of partnered sex require some level of trust, there’s something about anal play that really increases intimacy. There needs to be a greater emphasis on safety and taking things slowly with anal sex, so you’re often forced to talk about what you’re doing more than you usually would. Because of the taboo of anal play, both the person penetrating and the person feeling penetrated can especially vulnerable, and thus closer to each other.
We’re taught that sex ‘should’ look like a cishet man vaginally penetrating a cishet woman with his penis. Any kind of sex that deviates from that challenges the cisnormative scripts about what ‘counts’ as sex. Whether you’re exploring partnered or solo anal play, you’re stepping outside of those traditional scripts – and can take what you learn into other areas of your sex life. Lube is essential for anal play, but it can also enhance other kinds of sex from hand jobs and fingering to penis-in-vagina (PIV) penetration.
Additionally, butt plugs and prostate massagers are recommended if you’re exploring anal play, but all kinds of sex toys can add to your sex life and are worth experimenting with – from bullet vibrators to cock rings to cuffs. It’s important to remember that you should always use sex toys with a flared base for anal play, to avoid toys getting stuck inside your rectum.
As well as decentring PIV sex, anal play can decentre the idea that the man in a cishet couple will always be the one doing the penetrating. Pegging is the term often used to describe a woman using a strap on to anally top her (usually male) partner. Pegging is very popular: it allows couples to play with gender roles and ‘queer’ up their sex life, exploring different power dynamics and different ways to have sex.
One of the biggest myths about anal play – and about sex in general – is that being penetrated is inherently submissive or ‘feminising’, or that it ‘makes you gay’. Whether it’s sex toys, your fingers or your partner’s penis that you like inside you, there is nothing shameful or unmanly about enjoying anal play. Your sexuality also isn’t determined by your sexual activity: people of all genders and sexualities can find pleasure in anal play.
Additionally, it’s definitely possible to maintain a dominant role while receiving anal sex. Imagine ordering your partner to lie back and hold the headboard while you slowly lower yourself down on to their penis or strap-on. Whether or not they can feel you clenching around them, they can only watch and not touch as you dictate the pace and how you’re going to have sex.
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