Some people love anal sex. Others are repulsed by it. Then there are those who are just damn curious. If you fall into the latter category, read on.
Anal sex appeals for several reasons. Physically, the anus and rectum is packed full of highly-sensitive nerve endings. Psychologically it could be about dominance, or just the thrill of doing something a bit taboo. Whether you're giving, receiving or versatile, the truth is many people, straight, bi and gay enjoy anal sex. Here's how to do it.
Preparing for anal
Don't shove a shower head up your bumhole. "Douching interferes with the mechanisms of the body and can often lead to constipation," says Barrie Dwyer, who devised 'The Arse Class' for the gay men's charity GMFA. "Lots of people have a shit, shower and shave (either their legs or their face) routine before they go out or meet a partner, and this takes care of anything that 'may get in the way' later," he says.
For a good first experience you both need to be really turned on, so don't skimp on foreplay. Then, when you're ready, start by caressing the anus with a finger or tongue (called rimming). Be gentle and apply lots of lube. Unlike the vagina, the anus is not self-lubricating.
Be guided by your partner's reaction and be sensitive to their wishes. "Don't just shove your finger in and start pushing it in and out like you're trying to polish something," says Barrie. "Find out what they want to do."
If you're working this into female foreplay be careful not to use the same finger for her vagina, as trace amounts of faeces can cause infection. Keep a pack of baby wipes handy, or switch hands.
It's a good idea to practice alone to get an idea of how it feels to stick something up your bum as opposed to something coming out. Try inserting a lubed finger or small dildo. "It's about working out what you like," says Barrie.
When it comes to the sex you should be in control. Breathe deeply into your stomach to help relax all your muscles and get in a position you feel comfortable with. Sitting down onto his penis while you face him allows you to control the depth of penetration, spooning works well, as does doggy style. Remember, if you feel uncomfortable at any point, stop. Don't ignore pain.
Start slowly, penetrating just an inch. Then pull out completely. Go in again an inch deeper, and then pull out completely. Keep this going until you're fully in. There's no rush. Be led by your partner's reaction and be patient. It may take several attempts.
Will there be poo on my penis?
Heard the story about the man withdrawing after anal only to find a piece of sweetcorn up his foreskin? While this may or may not be true, there could be poo. Although it will be on the condom - that you definitely should wear. It's kinda part of the deal.
Will I bleed?
There may be a bit of bleeding (called spotting). As long as it's bright red in colour and disappears after 15 minutes this is nothing to worry about. However, if it doesn't and there's a lot of dark blood, go to A&E.
Will I be incontinent?
One of the biggest fears is that you'll damage your arse muscles and constantly leak poo like a drippy tap. Not true. "The sphincters are muscles that can relax and be tightened up, and 80% of your continence (control over when you poo) is controlled by a muscle called the pubo-sling, which isn't stretched when you're having sex," says Barrie.
What's in it for the girls?
Women, unlike men, do not have a prostate gland (AKA P-spot) in the anal passage, but there is still much pleasure to be had from all the nerve endings in and around the bum. It's all a matter of personal choice.
Am I still a virgin if I have anal sex?
Virginity is a complex issue and everyone has their own personal take on it. "It's really up to you to decide what anal sex signifies/means to you in relation to being a virgin," says Barrie.
Will I get pregnant?
It's not technically possible to get pregnant from anal sex, as there's no way for semen to get from the rectum into the vagina. However there is a small chance of semen leaking out of your bottom and dripping across into the vagina after sex. So be careful and clean up post ejaculation.
Anal sex and STI risks
Anal sex carries with it a much greater risk of passing on HIV and other STIs than vaginal sex because the lining of the arse is very delicate. ALWAYS wear a condom - preferably the extra strong ones - and use plenty of lube.
If rimming's going to be your warm-up act it's ESSENTIAL you use a form of barrier protection (dental dam, Femidom, or piece of condom). Even a clean bum will have traces of faeces that can lead to hepatitis A, gonorrhoea, as well as a gut infection.
What if I don't like it?
Like any sexual act, anal sex should be consensual. If your partner's not into it, respect their decision and don't pressurise them. And if the shoe's on the other foot be honest about how you feel, and NEVER let anyone bully you into doing something you don't want to do.
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