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It’s impossible to say exactly what anal sex feels like. So many factors, from someone’s anatomy to their sexual experience, play a role.

To answer the question the best we can, we’ll look at how people who’ve had anal describe the feeling. We’ve also rounded up some first-timer tips to maximize pleasure.

Cisgender men and people assigned male at birth have a prostate. While this little gland’s job is to produce and propel semen, it also happens to be chock-full of sensitive nerves that can make for some highly pleasurable feels.

Anal penetration

Before you get to the prostate, though, you make contact with all of the nerve endings in and around the anus. If you’re not used to this, it can feel uncomfortable at first.

This initial penetration is also frequently described as feeling like a reverse poo, only way more pleasurable and satisfying.

And now that the other P-word is out there: Feeling like you might poop is very common when you’re anally penetrated. These are all the same nerves and muscles that play a role in pooping, after all.

Prostate stimulation

Prostate stimulation is often described as feeling insanely good. As part of your natural sexual response, blood flow to the prostate increases, causing it to swell and become more sensitive.

And speaking of swelling, many people also report suddenly feeling like they need to pee, even if their bladder’s empty.

This is because your prostate is located in front of your bladder, and your urethra runs right through it. The feeling is very common and totally normal.

You don’t need a prostate to enjoy anal — hallelujah!

Everyone has the same number of delightful nerve endings in and around the anus. Plus, there’s a highly erotic pleasure spot along the vaginal wall that can be indirectly stimulated via the anus. We’re talking about the A spot.

The feeling of initial penetration is the same as it is for people with a prostate. It can be a little uncomfortable at first, and you’ll probably feel like you’re going to poop.

It sure can.

Prostate orgasms

Prostate orgasms cause continual contractions that are described as intense waves of deep pleasure that can be felt throughout the entire body.

Some people also experience oozing of milky fluid from the penis when they have a prostate orgasm. This is totally normal and sometimes referred to as milking.

Anal orgasm

You don’t need a prostate to have an anal orgasm. Anal sex with a penis or sex toy can indirectly stimulate the A spot in the vagina, producing some serious vaginal wetness and intense, full-body orgasms.

The key to enjoyable anal sex and orgasms is the right mix of relaxation and arousal, so do whatever helps get you in the mood. Take a hot bath, touch your other erogenous zones, or watch some porn.

If you’re new to anal sex, a little discomfort is to be expected. But if you aren’t properly prepared, things can get downright painful.

Between the tight quarters and an opening that’s accustomed to being used solely as an exit point, friction is a given.

While some friction is enjoyable, too much can lead to skin tears, also called fissures, in the lining of your anus. These can increase your risk for sexually transmitted and other infections.

But there are a couple of things you can do to keep discomfort to a minimum.

Use a lot of lube — seriously

Lube is essential when it comes to anal. It keeps friction to a minimum and helps your backdoor sesh go a lot smoother (literally).

You’ll want to apply lube to the penis (or sex toy) as well as in and around the anus. When you think you’re sufficiently lubed, add some more. There’s no such thing as too much.

Choose wisely

Silicone lube has a thicker consistency and lasts longer than other types, making it the Cadillac of lubes for anal.

Using toys? Go for a water-based one instead. Silicone lube can break down silicone toys. Go figure.

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Go super slow

Just because you’re all worked up and in the throes of passion doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready for action. Slow and steady wins the race — the race being a pleasurable experience that doesn’t end with a trip to the ER.

If it’s too uncomfortable even when going slow, try a well-lubed finger or small anal sex toy before moving on to a penis or dildo.

Prepping for anal is especially important for newbies. Here are some other first-timer tips to get you started off right.

Consider anal training

Anal training refers to gradually stretching your anus in preparation for anal sex. You can do this using butt plugs or anal dilators, starting with a small one and working your way up in size.

Purchase an anal training kit here.

Take a shower

There’s no way around it: Butts contain poop, and there’s a chance that some will make an appearance during anal.

If this makes you uncomfortable, taking a quick rinse before the main event can help put you at ease. Plus, your partner will probably appreciate the gesture.

A soapy shower or bath is sufficient, but some people like to use an enema before anal sex for a deeper clean. It’s not necessary, but totally up to you.

Use protection

It’s totally possible to spread STIs through anal sex.

Use a barrier form of protection, such as a condom, to reduce the risk of STIs and other infections, including:

Switching between anal and vaginal sex? Make sure to roll on a new condom in between. If using your hands or a sex toy, wash thoroughly.

Anal sex can hurt, but it doesn’t have to. With some prep and a whole lot of lube, anal sex can feel ah-mazing, even if it’s your first foray into butt play.

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 paddleboard.