How to Have Safe, Pleasurable Anal Sex

By Betty Butch 

Anal sex is enjoyed by all kinds of folks. With 8000 nerve endings (and sometimes a prostate gland) to play with, it’s no surprise! There are countless ways to stimulate these pleasure receptors, from rimming to wearing butt plugs. But while there’s no right or wrong way to have anal sex, there are best practices you can abide by for better experiences. 

Don’t blunder your way through butt sex. Make sure what you’re doing is safe, comfortable, and fun.

Having Pain-Free Anal Sex

Despite its reputation, anal sex is itself not a painful act. If you’re in pain or causing a partner pain, you’re either rushing things, or you’ve missed a crucial step during preparation. 


Anal sex requires lubrication, especially if you’re involving any kind of penetration. Silicone lube is often preferred for anal because it’s long-lasting, but it’s not compatible with silicone sex toys (for that, you’ll want water-based lube.) Fully coat the toy or body parts you’re penetrating with. If uncomfortable friction persists or your session is running long, it’s important to stop and reapply lube. 

Never use numbing lubes. If you can’t accurately feel your body, you won’t be able to recognize when something you’re doing is hurting you. 


Another key component to comfortable anal sex is adequate stretching. Before inserting anything wider than a finger, it’s important to relax your body. Physical arousal and foreplay are a great way to start because your muscles will naturally begin to untense. Then, a well-lubricated finger or beginner butt plug will help acclimate your body to penetration. You can subsequently add additional fingers or use gradually increasing toy sizes.

“Stretching yourself for anal sex [involving a penis or dildo] is going to take several toys, and likely several months,” points out Squirrel Munk in his guide How to Train for Anal Sex. “If you rush the process, you won’t enjoy it and you might hurt yourself. Keep it slow to keep it fun.” 

Other Prep 

If you’re planning on doing any fingering, you need to make sure your nails are trimmed (or else guarded by nitrile gloves.) Your hands should be thoroughly washed before sex, and again during if you plan on using your hands elsewhere after contact with your ass. 

To ensure comfort, make sure you’re in a position that’s relaxed and receptive. Common positions include laying on your stomach or back with your hips raised on a pillow or sex wedge, laying on your back with your knees to your chest, or laying on your side. 

When penetrating yourself or a partner, do so from a comfortable angle. Fingers, plugs, etc, usually go in easiest when inserted slowly and angled slightly upwards towards the receiver’s belly button. 

Sex Toy Safety 

Flared Bases

To be safe for anal sex, sex toys must have a flared base. In other words, the toy needs a base that protrudes from your body and is adequately wider than the rest of the toy. This prevents the strong muscles in your sphincter from drawing the toy too deep to retrieve with your fingers. 

“For an especially comfortable fit, consider plugs with thinner necks (which allow the sphincter to relax) and rectangular/t-shaped bases (because they can comfortably tuck between buttcheeks),” I point out on my blog.    

Toy Sanitation

“It’s wise to sanitize toys frequently after anal use,” Felicity of Phallophile Reviews writes for Peepshow. Cleaning and sanitizing your toy can keep lingering scents at bay as well. “How to sanitize your toy depends on which materials it’s made of. For all methods, wash the toy with soap and water after sanitizing (and after the toy has cooled down, in the case of boiling and baking).”

There are multiple ways to sanitize body-safe sex toys. These methods include boiling, baking, bleach baths, and more

Risk Reduction


According to the CDC, anal sex carries the highest sex-based risk for HIV transmission. HIV is not just transmitted between gay men; in fact, nearly 1 in 5 new HIV diagnoses in the US are women. 

While HIV remains heavily stigmatized, it’s important to note that there are numerous ways both treatment and decreasing transmission risk has improved in recent years. “HIV medicine lowers the amount of virus (viral load) in your body, and taking it as prescribed can make your viral load undetectable,” says the CDC, “If your viral load stays undetectable, you have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.” 

If you are not positive, one way to lower the risk of transmission is PrEP. “PrEP stands for Pre Exposure Prophylaxis. It is the use of HIV medications by HIV negative people to prevent themselves contracting HIV,” writes Kelvin Sparks in his PrEP 101 guide. “It is not the same as Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), which is a treatment that can be taken after sex to help prevent HIV contraction.”

Other STD’s/STI’s 

“In addition to HIV, a person can get other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like chlamydia and gonorrhea from anal sex without condoms. Even if a condom is used, some STDs can still be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact (like syphilis or herpes),” says the CDC, “One can also get hepatitis A, B, and C.”

Anal sex can also result in exchanging “parasites like Giardia and intestinal amoebas; and bacteria like Shigella, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. coli from anal sex without a condom because they’re transmitted through feces.”

You can lower your risk of these by using barriers like condoms and dental dams

When putting on a condom, Planned Parenthood notes, “the rim should be on the outside so it looks like a little hat, and it will unroll easily. Pinch the tip of the condom and place it on the head of your penis. Leave a little bit of space at the top to collect semen (cum). If you’re uncircumcised, it might be more comfortable to pull your foreskin back before placing the condom.” 

Dental dams are lesser-known safer sex barriers, but they’re great for rimming. To use, simply place the dam over the receiver’s hole; you don’t have to stretch it out. For a more pleasurable experience, put lube on the side that’s in contact with your partner’s butt. 

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