Most of us have had some sort of sexual education class during schooling. It was most likely taught to you by a very awkward P.E. teacher who was forced to briefly go over the birds and the bees of cis het sex. Or, you had an eighth grade science and life skills teacher that told you buttholes were for pooping and pooping only.
However, we ALL know that is not true.
We sat down with VOA FIT to discuss what kind of safety precautions people should take while engaging in anal sex. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), anal sex is primarily growing in popularity with couples under age 45. In fact, in a national survey, 36 percent of women and 44 percent of men reported that they’ve had anal sex with an opposite-sex partner.
According to VOA FIT, men who have sex with men make up about 80 percent of new positive HIV tests. So let’s talk safe butt stuff.
Before you start
While some enjoy playing in the mud, cleanliness is often one of the biggest concerns surrounding anal sex. There are many options out there, but most of them have significant risks or side effects. Any type of cleaning will strip away the natural lubrication of your rectum. So, the first rule is to try to do as little as possible. This will lower the risk of possible tissue damage during sex.
If you choose to engage in more aggressive cleaning, there are a few things you should know. Many people choose to use enemas for this process. An enema is a device used to inject fluid into the lower bowels to evacuate stool. While enemas can be safe to use, it depends on the fluid used. Prepackaged douches sold in stores are full of very strong chemicals that can damage your tissue. They are not recommended in any situation, but they should never be used anally. Similarly, non-saline enema fluid can contain harmful chemicals and laxatives that can result in long-term constipation and continence issues. The safest option is a reusable or disposable enema with warm water or saline, however even these should be used sparingly.
Like any form of human contact, there are diseases that can be spread through anal sex. One of the easiest ways to prevent sexually transmitted infections is with barriers. Dental dams, external condoms, and internal condoms all lower skin contact and fluid exchange. This significantly reduces the possibility of contracting any STIs.
In some situations, though, you may not want to use a barrier. Whether you are with an exclusive partner or you just decide it’s wrong in the moment, there are many times when people choose not to place anything between themselves and their partner’s body. At these times it is even more important to be aware of your body and to take care of your health. If you have any changes in your body, wait to engage in sexual contact until you see a doctor. Even if nothing is visibly wrong, get regular STI screenings. Regular testing means that if you do contract an STI you can get it treated faster and pass it to less partners.
Whether or not you are using barriers, PrEP could be right for you. PrEP is a medication regimen that helps prevent you from getting HIV. Depending on how you take it, PrEP is up to 99% effective. Talk to your doctor and see how PrEP fits in with your life and sexual practices.
One of the principal differences between vaginal and anal sex is that, though it does have some natural mucosa, the anus is not capable of producing extra lubrication during sex in the way that many vaginas can. This extra friction to be one of the best parts of anal, but it can also cause pain, tearing, and bleeding. This is why adding additional lubrication can make the sex more enjoyable and also reduce the chance of STI transmission.
While oils, lotions, and petroleum jellies may aid in lubrication, they will also break down a condom and make it more likely to tear. Water or silicon based lubes are typically the best option. Water based lube will provide a more natural feel and be easier to clean up. On the other hand, it will dry out faster and require more reapplication. Silicone lube provides a long-lasting moisture, but it will be harder to clean and can stain sheets and clothes.
Fingering can be an excellent way to play with your own or your partner’s body and build up to anal sex. That said, fingers can also cause a lot of damage including cuts and infections. If not managed properly, they can cause cuts and infections. Some chose to keep their nails trimmed close in order to avoid this, however it is not a fool proof method. If you are worried about possible pain or injuring from fingering, using a glove or finger condom can provide a barrier that will limit contact with sharp nails and any open cuts of the hand.
As always, talk to your partner. Every sexual encounter is unique and requires that you communicate your needs and listen to those of your partner. Sex can be whatever you want it to be. So, take the time to ensure that you and your partner are working together to gain the most enjoyment possible.