How to have anal sex

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.

A young man is sitting at a bus stop wearing a grey jacket. He is worrying about man boobs.

What is the appeal of anal sex?

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 a bit of bum sex. Here’s our guide for how to have anal sex.

Preparing for anal sex

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.

Anal play

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. Read our guide to how to use lube here.

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 foreplay with someone who has a vagina, be careful not to use the same finger for the vagina, as trace amounts of faeces can cause infection. Keep a pack of baby wipes handy, or switch hands.

Receiving anal sex

Before you have anal sex for the first time, it’s a good idea to practise 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, a small dildo or the tip of a butt plug. “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 a penis while you face them 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.

Giving anal sex

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 person withdrawing after anal only to find a piece of sweetcorn up their foreskin? While this may or may not be true, there may be a small amount of poo. Although it will be on the condom – that you definitely should wear. It’s kinda part of the deal. Read more about anal sex and poop here.

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 bum sex make me 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 women?

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 from anal sex?

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 sexually transmitted infections

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. Check out our safe sex resources here.

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.

Don’t be pressured into doing something you’re not comfortable with

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. We’ve got a guide on how to say no to sex here which might be useful.

Further help with anal sex

Brook provides free sexual health and wellbeing services for young people in the UK. Brook’s services include local clinics and online digital sex and relationships tool. Share your thoughts and questions about anal sex on our Discussion Boards.

Next Steps

  • Brook provides free sexual health and wellbeing services for young people in the UK. Brook's services include local clinics and online digital sex and relationships tool.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.


anal| anal sex| lube| sex

By Nicola Scott

Updated on 06-Jan-2023