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Let’s get right down to it. Anal sex doesn’t have to hurt — and shouldn’t if you’re doing it properly. A little prep work and some patience could mean the difference between pleasure and pain when it comes to backdoor fun.

If you’re new to anal, read on for everything you need to know to make your first time a great one.

It’s your first foray into butt play, so of course you’ve got questions.

Why does it sometimes hurt?

For starters, the natural lack of lubrication.

Unlike a vagina, which gets wet in preparation for penetration, the anus doesn’t. Without enough lubrication, the friction created by dry penetration is painful and can even cause tiny tears in the delicate skin of the anus.

If you’re not relaxed, that can be another cause of pain. Those are some pretty tight quarters back there because the muscles in the anus are meant to be closed tight to keep things in. Without relaxing those muscles, getting anything inside can cause discomfort.

Will the pain go away immediately after?

The pain should go away pretty quickly. If the pain is severe or present after a couple of days, make a trip to a healthcare provider.

Will it always hurt?

It shouldn’t. But anal is like other any other kind of sex in that it might hurt when not done correctly.

It’s not unusual to have some discomfort as your anus gets used to penetration. This should improve with each anal session, as long as you’re being careful.

Will numbing creams help?

They might, but they’re generally not recommended.

Pain is your body’s way of letting you know something’s not quite right. Numbing those sensors can prevent you from knowing there’s a problem. And if something is off, like your angle or position, you could end up doing some damage.

Will I bleed?

You might. A tiny bit of blood isn’t usually a big deal the first time and might be due to some irritation. If you see more than just a few drops of pink blood or if it’s there even after a few days, follow up with your healthcare provider.

Bleeding can be caused by friction and being too rough, or by an underlying condition, such as hemorrhoids.

Anal sex requires a little advance prep, especially the first time. Here are some things to get you ready to get busy.

Go to the bathroom

Going to bathroom before anal is generally a good idea anyway, but it’s especially important if you’re worried about poop making an appearance.

Knowing you’re empty back there can help you focus on the fun.

Choose your lube wisely

Silicone lube is often the best way to go for anal because it’s thicker and longer lasting than other types of lube.

If you’re going to be using sex toys made of silicone, however, you’ll need to use a water-based lube because silicone lube degrades silicone toys. You can get around this by using a condom over the toy.

Speaking of condoms, oil-based lubes and other oil products should be avoided because they break down latex.

Water-based lube is always a safe bet as it’s friendly to condoms and toys.

Find silicone and water-based lubes online.

Talk things over

An open and honest convo between partners is important before trying anal sex for the first time so you’re both on the same page.

Anal — or any other type of sexual contact — shouldn’t happen without clear consent from all parties first.

First-time anal is also not the kind of thing you do on the fly. Trust us. Doing a bit of prep work is key to having a safe, enjoyable experience.

This is also the time to discuss any concerns you have and set clear boundaries. Have specific turn-ons? Be sure to talk about those, too. The key is to be as comfortable and prepared as possible when inviting someone in your backdoor to play.

Try to relax

Being relaxed before you begin will make anal a lot more pleasurable for you and your partner.


Start small

A penis or dildo shouldn’t be the first thing that you put in your butt. Start small using fingers or small toys and gradually work your way up.

If using fingers, begin with a well-lubed pinky. If you prefer toys, start with a very small butt plug. Over time, you might be able to start a little larger.

The time has come and you’re ready to give anal a go. High five!

Use a lot of lube

Here we go with the lube talk again! Not to be a nag, but your behind isn’t going to lubricate itself and anal sex without lube is painful and potentially risky.

There’s no such thing as too much lube when it comes to any type of butt play, so don’t be stingy. Apply it liberally around the anus and a little inside using your fingers. You’ll also want to apply it to the penis or toy that’s going to be doing the penetrating.

Go slow

Forget any of the hardcore banging you’ve seen in porn. That’s not someone’s first time (even if the title says otherwise). Going full speed ahead could do some major damage. How major? Anal fissure or rectal perforation are just a couple examples.

Be vocal

Sex isn’t the time to be quiet. Plus, communicating only makes it better.

Be sure to tell your partner what feels good and what doesn’t, and speak up if you’re uncomfortable or want to stop. This helps you both become better lovers and ensures that you’re both still into it all the way through.

Adjust your position

Sometimes, just tweaking your angle a bit can make all the difference when it comes to anal sex.

If you’re not feeling it or are having discomfort, try a small adjustment to your position, like arching your back or having your partner turn slightly in one direction or another.

Don’t worry, you’re not about to poop

Anal penetration can make you feel like you need to poop even if you don’t. That’s because many of the same muscles are involved. Relax and rest assured that you’re not going to poop. We promise.

Congrats! You’ve opened up yourself — and your bottom — up to a whole new world of erotic fun! Now it’s time for some cleanup and pillow talk.


The cleanup is a small price to pay for a potentially orgasmic good time.

A shower or at least a gentle wash of the anal and genital region is important to prevent the spread of bacteria. You’ll also want to thoroughly wash your hands and sex toys if you used either.

Lube can be a bit messy, so you’ll probably need to wash your sheets when you’re done. Water-based lube doesn’t require any special care, but stains from silicone lube should be pretreated with a stain remover before washing.

Have a follow-up convo

Enjoy a cuddle and a chat when you’re done to check in with your partner and get their feelings about the experience. Talk about how things went and what you might like to do differently next time, or whether anal is something you even want to try again.

Anal sex can be pleasurable, but that doesn’t mean that everyone likes it. If you try it and find that it doesn’t float your boat, there’s no need to do it again. Life’s too short for sex that’s anything less than ahh-mazing. Do what feels good instead.

Anal sex does come with a few risks, but you can avoid these with a bit of preparation.

Use a barrier method for protection

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risk of HIV transmission is higher with anal than other types of sex. You can also get other STIs from anal sex.

This is because the delicate tissues in the anus are prone to irritation and tears, which can allow bacteria to enter. There are also more bacteria in the area because of the presence of feces, even if you can’t see it.

Using condoms can reduce your risk of sexually transmitted and other infections. Avoid condoms with spermicide, which can irritate the rectum.

Do a nail check

If fingers are going to anywhere near the anal region, be sure they’re clean, trimmed, and without jagged edges.

Don’t double dip

If you plan on moving onto oral or manual vagina pleasure or penetration after anal play, don’t go there without thoroughly washing genitals, hands, and sex toys first.

Bacteria from the rectum can get into the urethra and cause a urinary tract infection. If bacteria make its way into the mouth, it could also cause gastrointestinal infections.

When switching activities, be sure to use a new condom.

Keep an eye out for anything unusual

Some mild pain after your first few times isn’t usually a cause for concern. If you experience deep pain or abdominal pain, pain that’s severe, or pain that lingers for more than a day or two, see a healthcare provider.

You should also see your healthcare provider if you:

  • notice bleeding, especially if it’s severe or lasts more than a day or two
  • have signs of infection, such as fever, fatigue, or muscle aches
  • notice signs of an abscess, such as redness, swelling, or a lump in or around the anus

Anal sex can seem complicated, but it’s really not. If you’re curious about giving it a try, there are a few things you can do to be sure you have good experience.

Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.