The Frisky Feminist

Bum’s the Word

Q: I’ve been toying with the idea of anal sex for MONTHS, literally months, and I can’t get up the courage to try it. Baby steps, yes, but taking that final leap still freaks me out for some reason. I think it’s a combo of the poo issue and the horror stories you hear about rips/tears, etc. I know that’s not how it’d go, but even the remote possibility of that makes it really hard for me to get relaxed enough to be comfortable with the idea.

A: It sounds like you’ve spent some time mulling over not only your feelings about trying anal sex but why you feel the way you do, which is really important and makes our job somewhat easier! Figuring out what exactly you’re wary of is the first step in addressing and getting past that wariness, if that’s what you decide you want to do. (And if you end up concluding that you’re not interested in bum sex or that you’re not ready now but may be in the future, that’s obviously completely fine too – this is all about what you want and your comfort level.)

So let’s get the most uncomfortable part out of the way first, shall we? The poo concern is one that many people have – it’s one of the myths that Tristan Taormino addresses in the first chapter of her book The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women, that anal sex “is dirty and messy.” Something that you may not know (paperispatient didn’t know this until she started reading about anal sex when she was interested in trying it for the first time) is that poo generally doesn’t hang out in the rectum; it’s stored in the colon, and only a small bit remains in the rectum and the anal canal after a bowel movement. Basically, as long as you don’t have sex right when you feel like you need to poo, your chances of encountering anything substantial are very small. There may be a little smudge or two on the condom (and yes, you always, always need to use a condom), but that tends to be it. Preparation-wise, all you really need to do is shower or take a bath. Some people prefer to use enemas before engaging in anal play, but experts like Taormino agree that it’s really not necessary.

Knowing that you don’t need to worry about poo may help you relax, which is a big factor when it comes to the comfort and ease with which you can have anal sex. We regard those horror stories kind of the way we do stories about terrible and rare drug side effects – the people who have terrible stories are more likely to share them than the people who had an uneventful or positive experience because, well, those make better stories than, “We tried anal sex and it was nice enough but kind of boring. I might do it again.”

You mentioned that you’ve been taking baby steps – we figure that means some fingering, maybe a small toy? Excellent! This will help you get accustomed to what having something up your butt feels like, and it will get your muscles used to relaxing – anal sex can feel a little strange at first, since most of us are only used to having things come out instead of going in – and slowly working up to penetration with something larger like a penis, dildo, or even fist (for the truly adventurous and experienced anal sex-ers). If you’re concerned about lubrication, try a few different kinds; regular old silicone or water-based lube can be used for anal sex, but there are also some thicker lubes out there specifically made for anal play that you could try if you find that the lube you’re using isn’t lasting long enough or feels too thin. (A note: even though there are some warming lubes on the page of anal lubes that we linked to, don’t. Just, trust us. Don’t.) There are also a lot of “desensitizing” anal lubes on the market, but these are, to put it kindly, a terrible idea that no one should ever try ever. Pain is your body’s way of telling you you’re doing something you shouldn’t, and you need to know if something hurts in order to avoid causing any damage. If you find that you enjoy and make bum sex a regular part of your sexual repertoire, you may find that it gets a lot easier after a while and that you don’t need to dedicate much or even any time to working up to it, but in the beginning you definitely want to err on the side of taking things slowly (and experiences vary widely – some people will always need a lot of preparation, other people never need any).

Position can also play a really big part in how easy and comfortable penetration is. You can have anal sex in any position you like. Many women like to be on top especially the first few times they have anal sex because that allows you to be completely in control of the speed, angle, and depth of penetration, and you’ll probably want to go very gradually and slowly at first. If you or your partner feel your muscles tensing up or if it’s difficult to penetrate any further, stop where you are and give it a moment or two. Personal anecdote: the first time we had bum sex, it was in a kind of modified doggy-style; future Mr. sat back on his heels and paperispatient controlled the movement until she felt comfortable enough to tell him to thrust. (And if/when your partner does start thrusting, slowly is still the key word, at least until you’re certain that everything feels good.) For a slightly more intimate experience, you can lie on your back with your hips tilted back and legs in any number of places (knees bent, legs in the air, feet on his shoulders, etc). Experiment – what is heaven on earth for one woman might be awkward and uncomfortable for another, and small changes can make a big difference in how it feels for you.

Also, anal sex doesn’t have to be the only activity going on. Some women find anal sex on its own extremely pleasurable and satisfying, likely because anal penetration can indirectly stimulate any sensitive spots in the vagina that provide pleasure during vaginal intercourse or because there are so many nerve endings in that body part that can provide some unique sensations. Other women really enjoy additional stimulation – you or your partner can lend a hand with some clitoral stimulation if that’s what does it for you (just make sure that any fingers or toys that have been in your ass don’t go near your vulva). Many women find that being ridiculously aroused and even having had an orgasm before beginning anal sex makes them more relaxed and makes that penetration feel even better. If it doesn’t immediately feel amazing, give it a chance (as long as it doesn’t hurt or feel unpleasant) – paperispatient has found that every time she has anal sex, the first few thrusts just feel vaguely like she’s taking a poo and are mostly about her body adjusting to the feeling, and it starts getting very pleasurable after that.

We should also mention, though, that plenty of other women find that they just don’t enjoy anal sex or that it is painful and unpleasant no matter how much preparation and precaution goes into it (or that they’re simply never interested in it in the first place). We don’t want to suggest, as some other columns and websites are wont to do, that anyone who doesn’t like it is doing it wrong or not trying hard enough. It’s also worth pointing out that not all men enjoy and are dying to have anal sex, though you might not know it from the way that anal sex is often framed in our culture. One of the themes in many of our posts has been that different things work for and feel good to different people, and that always bears repeating.

If you’re interested in learning even more about all things anal sex related, we’ve heard Taormino’s book praised as well as the book Anal Pleasure and Health: A Guide for Men, Women, and Couples by Dr. Jack Morin. It’s fantastically detailed and is packed with information that will help you (and your partner) understand your ass and explore different ways to enjoy it.


Got a ques­tion you’d like us to dis­cuss, myth you’d like us to bust, or general topic you’d like us to talk about? You can e-mail us at, and we’ve also set up a Tum­blr for the sole pur­pose of receiv­ing com­pletely anony­mous ques­tions at

By paperispatient

I recently earned my MA in women’s studies. I enjoy reading, working out, playing Scrabble, watching cheesy movies, and cooking yummy vegetarian meals with my partner and Frisky Feminist co-author, Future Mr. paperispatient.

16 replies on “Bum’s the Word”

We actually had really good luck at the Hustler store. We’ve got two strap-ons and both came from there; they were both fairly inexpensive and have served us very well. :)

If you’re feeling a bit more bashful, EdenFantasys ( ) has a lot to offer and so do Babeland ( )and The Stockroom ( ). They all sell dildos and harnesses separately and in kits together, and I like how detailed they get about size, harness style, materials, etc. If you want all vegan materials, unfortunately you’re not going to have quite as much to choose from, but if you’re okay with leather you have a ton of options!

This is probably the best written response to anal questions I have read. Thanks!

I am a new convert to anal thanks to my bf who LOVES it. For me the most important factors, even more important than lube, is trust and communication. The more you trust your partner the more relaxed you will be. Communication though is number one. Your partner will not know when you feel uncomfortable or in pain so you HAVE TO TELL THEM. Without communication it will be a horrible experience.

Toys are great. My bf started me with fingers then moved to toys of various sizes. We have three different plug sizes. One is longer than the other two and on the skinny size. Its good for getting use to length (anal beads are good for this also). We have two short plugs in a small and larger size. These are great for getting your sphincter used to being spread open as they are about the width of I would say average penis. I have found that I have amazing orgasms when my bf has fingers or a toy in my bum and is also stimulating my clit and vagina at the same time. Its a lot but seriously amazing.

Positions are a funny thing. A lot of the traditional ones like woman on top or on back with knees up have not worked for me so far. For awhile the only position that seemed to work was me lying on my stomach with pillows underneath my pelvis. We would try with me in doggy position but with my height it positioned my anus to high up. The only way that position works is if I’m in doggy on the bed and he is standing off the bed. I also like being in the spooning position. The position had the easiest of entries for me.

I find the more I have anal play and anal sex on a regular basis the easier it gets and the faster he can penetrate with his penis. If its been awhile then getting the penis in can be slow and kind of uncomfortable. Sometimes I have to have him stop half way and just let my body relax. I think because we always take it slow and use lube that I have never experienced actual pain. I have had uncomfortable moments that pass but usually its because I am unconsciously tensing my body. If I have tensed he will rub my clit or even just my back and it helps. Other times we will go from vaginal intercourse to anal (never the other way around) and I find a pretty quick entry from that cause the body is relaxed. Plus going in that order means less thrusting in the anus (it can be more intense though cause you are already fired up) which sometimes I prefer

On the poo issue, my bf says that he has never come out of me covered in poo (he has with other girls). Either that is true or he is being really nice and lying. If he is lying I really appreciate it :) There is also the result afterward that sometimes happen when lube and cum being thrust up there mixes with poo. Its not pleasant but goes away quickly.

Personally I like anal. Its not always on top of my list of sex faves but it does feel really good and mixes things up.

Thank you for sharing your experiences! Like you, I find being on top during anal extremely uncomfortable – I’m not sure why, but the angle just doesn’t work for me and it has only ever felt awkward. Also like you, I’ve found that doing bum things on a regular basis can make a really big difference; future Mr. used to need to work up to it very slowly when he was on the receiving end, but once pegging became a regular part of our sex lives, the amount of time that we needed to spend on preparation significantly decreased.

And oh YES re. your comment about communication. The ass is a funny body part and really different from the vagina, and you’ve got to be able to go “No, that’s weird, go slower and move your body differently like this!” because your partner might be completely unaware that what they’re doing doesn’t feel good.

Ok, we can ask questions here, right?

I always want to offer or suggest finger-up-the-butting, going both ways, but the idea of sticking a bare finger up someone’s butt wigs me out. Won’t it smell bad? Shouldn’t the person with the up-the-butted finger, like, immediately go dip it in bleach? I’m going to worry about what else it touches until it’s cleaned.

I know that Babeland carries velvety black latex gloves, and those seem like a good option…But I worry a bit about the lack of spontaneity. “Well, honey, are we done with finger-up-the-butting? Are you sure? Cuz once I take this glove off, we’re pretty much done with that for the night.”

Thoughts? Anyone?

@LutherNipperkin You can definitely ask questions here! Like Christina said, you can use finger cots or even just a condom pulled tightly over your finger(s) if the prospect of putting your bare finger up someone’s butt weirds you out. I’ve done it both with condoms and without, and I’ve never noticed a smell; however, I do remain conscious of what else that finger touches as we move onto other activities because I tend to be a bit of a hygiene freak, so I like using a condom over my fingers to get rid of that distraction.

And when you’re first exploring anal play, frankly, it may not be super-spontaneous, because you need to figure out what you’re doing and what the person being fingered likes. When we first began exploring pegging, I had this image in my head of how it was going to be spectacularly porny and I was going to immediately be this really smooth sex goddess, but in reality it took a lot of preparation and lot of “Does this angle feel okay? No? Does this feel better? If I go like this, is it too deep? Let me know when you’re ready for me to start thrusting” and so on.

I have fingered my partner before. He likes it but is always worried about poo even though I tell him it wont matter. Because we are usually doing other things when I finger him I actually cannot reach to fully place a finger and its essentially the fingertip stimulating the nerves of the rectum ring. That can be stimulating on its own. It might be a good place to start.

For the most part I have not encountered poo except for once. I had a little on my nail. I thought I would be grossed out but I wasn’t. I usually pee after sex anyways so I just washed it then and he never knew. I always make sure that whatever finger I used I don’t go rubbing him elsewhere with

I have a million condoms left over from my visits to planned parenthood (my partner and i don’t use them, and i tell them not to give me any, and yet…) Keep ’em in your nightstand and put one over your finger(s).

You should also stock up on condoms if you use dildos (anally or otherwise) — they cut down on cleaning time!

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