Get to Know Your Anus: 10 Rules of Anal Sex Part III

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Jack Morin, PhD, a San Francisco sex therapist and researcher, is the author of Anal Pleasure and Health: A Guide for Men and Women.

Anal Eroticism is surrounded by a powerful taboo. Yet millions of men and women – straight, gay and bisexual – are experimenting with anal sex. The anus, richly endowed with nerve endings and interconnected with the main pelvic muscles, is the closest erogenous neighbor of the genitals and contracts rhythmically during orgasm. Thirty-five years ago, Kinsey stated that the anal region had erotic significance for about half of the population. In a survey of 100,000 Playboy readers, 47 percent of the men and 61 percent of the women admitted to having tried anal intercourse.

Yet the anal taboo inhibits most people from thinking, talking and learning about the sexual use of the anus. Listed here are the ten things most men and women still do not know about anal sex. (Previously we published the first seven, here are three more facts you should know):

8. Different rules of hygiene apply to the vagina and rectum

Since intercourse can be vaginal or rectal, many people assume the the same rules apply for the penetration of the vagina and rectum. Although both are lined with soft tissue and are capable of expanding, they are radically dissimilar.

The rectum is not straight. After the short anal canal which connects the anal opening to the rectum, the rectum tilts toward the front of the body. A few inches in, it curves back – sometimes as much as 90 degrees. Then, after a few more inches, it swoops toward the front of the body once again. A person can learn about the shape of his or her rectum by gently inserting a soft object, trying different angles and body positions and concentrating on how it feels. Make sure the object has a flared base so that if you loose your grip, it won’t slip into the rectum and become irretrievable.

The rectum does not produce lubrication like the vagina but only a small amount of mucus. Therefore, rectal penetration always requires a lubricant. Chemical additives should be avoided. Water-based lubricants are latex-compatible.

The main function of the rectum is to act as a passageway for feces. But feces are not normally stored in the rectum except just prior to a bowel movement. Yet small amounts may remain in the rectum, expecially if the feces are not well formed. Anal douching before lovemaking will help some people especailly concerned with cleanliness to relax. For others the idea of dirtiness heightens the joy of the forbidden; for them, douching is anti-erotic.

9. Anal intercourse is not necessarily an act of dominance and submission.

The top-bottom imagery associated with anal intercourse is widespread. No doubt the belief that anal sex has to hurt contributes to this notion. And in fact some people are intensely excited by top-bottom fantasies about anal sex. The thought that they are submitting to such a degrading act is a terrific thrill. However, actual, not fantasized, anal pain can lead to trouble.

For others, the enjoyment of anal sex is inhibited by top-bottom imagery. The idea of surrendering control, and perhaps submitting to humiliation, causes immediate, protective tensing of the anal muscles. These individuals are more likely to relax and enjoy themselves if they can learn to regard anal sex as pleasurable rather than as an expression of power.

10. Anal sex can be perfectly safe, even beneficial.

The taboo against anal eroticism is perpetuated by the almost universal belief among physicians that anal sex is inevitably dangerous. No physical injury from anal stimulation results if both partners refuse to tolerate pain, never use force and avoid the use of drugs.

All the other risks center on sexually transmitted diseases. Each of the common STDs – gonorrhea, syphillis, herpes – can affect the anus. Intestinal parasites, bacteria or tiny bugs are usually passed along when fecal matter finds its way into someone’s mouth or vagina, most likely through rimming.

AIDS has complicated the matter. The HIV virus can pass from the semen or blood of an infected person to the bloodstream of a partner through a tiny break in the rectal tissue during anal intercourse.

To avoid this risk, anal intercourse and rimming should not be practiced casually. Those who do enjoy anal intercourse should always use a condom. Rimming should always be accomplished by a latex barrier. Of course, in a monogamous relationship with two healthy people, the risk of disease transmitted anally is reduced.

Thousands of men and women with chronic anal medical problems have restored their anal health by challenging their negative attitudes. This approach is indispensible for full erotic enjoyment of the anus.

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