Anal sex can be a lot of fun and adds another sexy dimension to intimacy. But, like any sexual act, it can come with risks.
Proper prep helps reduce accidents that can cause infections. It can include an enema, cleaning, and using water or silicone lubricant that won’t deteriorate sex toys.
1. Clean Your Anus
A dirty anus can lead to infection, which is not the best for sex. People can clean the area by squirting water on it from a bottle, using soapy bathing gel or shower wash in the tub, and with an all-natural wet wipe (if the anal skin is not too sensitive). It’s also important to not scrub down there, which can cause tiny tears in the delicate anal skin that allow bacteria in.
A douche or anal rinse with water, saline solution, or salt water can flush out the anus after a bowel movement and help prevent infections from fecal matter. A sitz bath is another option, and can be a great way to relax before sex.
It’s generally recommended to douche while sitting, as this allows you to reach behind your back more easily without having to stretch. Wipe your bottom from front to back, so that the fecal matter moves away from your vaginal canal and toward the anus (the perianal space). Don’t wipe too hard, as intense wiping can make the skin sensitive and could even cause microtears.
If you’re going to use a douche, choose a kit with two pieces that include a bulb made of rubber or silicone into which you insert a nozzle; the nozzle can be filled with warm or hot water and squeezed to release it. You should always have a lubricant with you to ease the insertion, whatever delivery method you’re using. Douching too often or too vigorously can break down the anal skin barrier, which can let in bacteria and lead to infection.
If you’re worried about fecal matter being left behind during anal play, you can take some preventative measures. One method is to do an enema before starting, which can help keep your rectum clean and prepare it for penetration. “It’s very important to douche before anal sex,” says sexual health specialist Angel O’Reilly, who has been in roughly 300 anal sex scenes. “You need to get rid of any waste before you have penetration.”
She recommends a hot water bottle (not the type used to warm up beverages) filled with just a couple cups of very warm water. The nozzle of the bottle can be inserted into the anal opening and then slowly released, allowing the water to enter and cleanse the area. Some people may experience mild cramping, but this should subside within a minute or two.
O’Reilly also advises using an anal lubricant to help with the process, such as silicone anal lube or a natural oil like coconut oil. Be careful not to use too much lube or you could overflow the anal opening, which she says can be uncomfortable. You don’t want to use water that is too hot, as this can burn the rectum and make you more susceptible to infection.
Using an enema too often can also dehydrate your colon, which can cause you to rely on enemas and make it harder to have bowel movements. It’s recommended to only use enemas when necessary, and never for a long period of time.
Anal play requires lube, lots of it. Your anus doesn’t self-lubricate like your vagina, and if you go in there with anything other than a condom or an anal ring it could tear the delicate tissue and cause infections. Lube also reduces friction, which is great for both bottoms and tops (especially for the tops, who tend to have more pain in their anus from abrasions).
You can use lubricant on your anal sphincter, ring, or even a condom. Typically thicker, water-based lubes work well for anal because they don’t dry out as quickly and are easy to clean up. You can also try silicone or oil-based lubes, but remember that the latter may not be compatible with some toys.
Many people find it easier to start anal sex by rinsing their anus first with liquid expelled from a douche bulb. While anal douching isn’t necessary before having anal sex, it can help make you and your partner feel more comfortable by washing away any leftover poop or pee that’s lingering in the rectum canal.
If you do decide to anal douche, be sure not to do it too often, as repeated rinsing can damage your anal sphincter and cause irritation. It’s also not recommended for people who have a rectal cancer or tumor. For best results, use a disposable plastic bottle so you can easily throw it away afterward.
Using towels is not only a good way to clean your anus, but it also keeps it from drying out or becoming irritated. You may find it easier to wash your anal in the shower, especially with a bidet attachment or a hand-held sprayer. Washing with water is also a lot more environmentally friendly than using wet wipes, which are often a major contributor to clogged toilets and deplete the anal area of its good bacteria.
Anal play can be messy, with lube and bodily fluids wetting the sheets. You can prevent this by placing a towel down before you start anal sex. It’s also a good idea to use anal-specific toys for anal foreplay, which can stimulate the nerve endings around your anus and prepare it for penetration.
Just remember to use a lot of anal-safe lube! The anus isn’t self-lubricating, and without a good amount of lube you could end up with painful micro-abrasions in the hole. Keep a small container of your favorite lube next to the bed so you can get it on quickly before anal sex. Then you can focus on enjoying yourself! (And don’t forget a condom, if you’re sexually active.)