After chatting with a 39-year-old mom who loves anal sex, I got to thinking about the precise ways in which anal is taboo — and how to mythbust them. Clinical Sexologist and Marriage and Family Therapist Dr. Kat Van Kirk weighed in on what’s true about anal, and what’s not.
The myth: It will hurt.
The truth: Anal sex doesn’t have to hurt. It’s often just done incorrectly. Many women find it incredibly pleasurable, and some even report having orgasms with them. If you and your partner start slow, work your way into insertion with smaller implements like fingers and sex toys and use plenty of lube, pain will be the last thing on your mind.
The myth: Once it hurts, it will always hurt.
The truth: So you tried it once and insertion hurt really bad. You made your partner stop and vowed never to go “back” there again. You don’t have to shut the backdoor because of one or two negative experiences. Most of these experiences have to do with not following the above instructions: go slow, graduate in size and use lube. Plus there is a nice trick to get you relaxed. If you also stimulate your clitoris at the same time it can encourage the pleasure over pain response.
The myth: Only “sluts” have anal sex.
The truth: You’ve always heard that bad girls are the only ones willing to have anal sex. In actuality, anal sex has been voted the number one taboo sexual behavior that heterosexual couples want to try. So obviously, we all can’t be sluts. There’s a natural curiosity about our bodies and if there is pleasure to be had, you should feel you can explore that in a safe and healthy way.
The myth: Having anal sex will save your sex life.
The truth: Yes, I have actually heard this in my office more than once. It usually has to do with a couple that has more than once sexual issue, especially a female who might be inhibited about her sexuality and it is getting in the way of her sex life with her partner. Some men behold anal sex as the holy grail and if they can just get their wives and girlfriends to partake then the floodgates (so to speak) about sex would open in general. Those other issues need to be worked out ahead of time and then if and when she feels open to the experience should they approach the subject. If she is just doing it out of fear of losing her relationship, she probably won’t enjoy it anyway.
The myth: Your man won’t respect you later.
The truth: So he got what he wanted from you and now wants nothing to do with you? I’m sure this happens occasionally but with more than just anal sex but any sort of sexual activity. Most men though, are modern enough to see anal sex as just one component of healthy sex life. And because of the taboo of anal sex, it might actually help you feel closer and more emotionally bonded to your partner.
The myth: It will cause you physical damage.
The truth: Having any sort of sex the “wrong way” could cause damage. Think about it: If you are vaginally dry and don’t use additional lube, you can cause micro-tears in the vagina. The same thing can happen in anal sex. Granted the vagina does create it’s own lubrication usually (depending on hormones etc.) and the anus does not but that just means real lube (not saliva) needs to be used for a healthy experience.
The myth: You don’t need to use condoms when you have anal sex.
The truth: This is a misconception because many people think that because there is no pregnancy risk that you also don’t need to use a condom. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Most STDs are transferrable through the anus (chlamydia, gonorrhea, infectious hepatitis and HIV). Some even more so, because the lining of the anus is much more thin and can be broken more easily if too much dry friction occurs (again, please refer to the importance of lube use).
The myth: Once you give your partner anal sex, it will be all he wants.
The truth: It’s no secret, many men do cop to the fact that they enjoy the additional tightness the anus affords as compared to the vagina. But most men don’t want to give up the main entry either. Vaginas are still revered. Anal sex tends to be a “treat” mixed into your regular sexual repertoire of play.
The myth: Your anus will get all stretched out.
The truth: Just like the myth that the vagina gets irreparably stretched out from childbirth, this is also a misconception. There were rumors in the late seventies of groups of men who engaged in so much anal activity that they actually lost control of bowel movements. Regular, healthy use of anal sex will not lead to this outcome. Through regular anal sex, your anus does learn to become more relaxed but much of that has to do with your ability to relax yourself mentally for the act. And we all know that the vagina accommodates a wide range of penises, the anus can too — with the right introduction.
The myth: It’s dirty (literally).
The truth: This is probably one of the biggest misconceptions I run across. The anus and the lower part of the rectum actually have very little fecal material in them, which means it tends to not be nearly as dirty as you think. This doesn’t mean you should transfer the elements into the vagina by having anal sex and then vaginal sex though because they are two different environments, even microscopic fecal elements can cause vaginal infections. Just be sure to as with antimicrobial soap before vaginal re-entry or just end your sexual exploits for that evening with anal sex. Regardless, if you are still concerned, you can always have a bowel movement prior followed by an enema, if you want to be squeaky clean.