1892 lithograph by Paul
Avril depicting male-to-female anal sex
Rules of Anal Sex
by Jack Morin, PhD.
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
1. Anal intercourse is the least practiced form
of anal sex.
There are many ways to enjoy the anus erotically.
The most common techniques include touching the anal opening while
masturbating or stimulating a partner's anus during intercourse or oral
Some people enjoy the sensation of a finger - their
own or a lover's - insinuated into their anal opening and gently
rotated. Others may prefer the insertion of a dildo or vibrator beyond
the anal opening and short anal canal into the larger rectum. Many men,
including hetereosexuals, prefer this form of penetration.
Oral-anal lovemaking is popularly known as rimming.
The very idea disgusts some people. Others enjoy performing it or
allowing themselves to be probed in this special way.
2. Anal stimulation, including intercourse, is
not painful if done properly.
The belief that anal stimulation, especially
intercourse, has to hurt is a persistent and dangerous myth. Just as
pain anywhere in the body indicates that something is wrong, so is the
same true of the anal area. With its high concentration of nerve
endings, the anus can produce extreme agony when it is mistreated. Yet
it can be a source of great pleasure.
When a finger, object or penis is intorduced into
the anus, the anal muscles go into spasm, as if fighting off an
invasion. Pain will result if the partners do not wait for these
muscles to relax. Under sufficient stress they will eventually collapse
and the pain subside, unless further damage is done. But, any
'pleasure' afforded from this kind of activity derives mostly from the
absence of discomfort.
Maximum anal pleasure requires the elimination of
all pain or physical trauma from the anal experience. Self-protection
on the part of the passive partner involves being ready to say "no"
until he or she is ready to proceed. Readiness is a combination of
physical relaxation, usually helped along by plenty of leisurely anal
touching, and desire.
Occasionally the anal muscles are relaxes, but the
passive partner is still not in the mood. Stimulation should mount only
in proportion to the degree of receptivity.
3. Anal sex can be enjoyed even if it has been
consistently uncomfortable in the past.
Sufficient desire alone does not necessarily
guarantee pleasurable anal sex. Nor is an uncomfortable previous
experience always the reason for a lack of interest in or desire for
Chronic anal tension is the most common cause of
anal discomfort during sex. Hemorrhoids and constipation are usually a
sign of this condition. Tension can be relieved by touching the anus
and becoming more familiar with it. An ideal time to explore the anal
opening is while taking a shower or bath. Deep breathing also affects
the anal muscles. Tensing the anus and the letting go in another way of
learning to relax it. Anyone who enjoys masturbation might want to
experiment with some form of anal stimulation, though he or she should
stop if any discomfort occurs.
For many people the turning point in anal sex is
when they allow a partner to massage the anus with the understanding
that intercourse will not be attempted. Then the recipient of anal
caresses can concentrate solely on the pleasure that this erogenous
zone is capable of generating.
4. Two muscle rings called sphincters surround
the anal opening. Each functions independently.
If you insert a finger about one half-inch into
your anus and press your fingertip against the side, you can clearly
feel the two sphincter muscles. There is less than a quarter-inch
between them. The external sphincter is controlled by the central
nervous system - just like the muscles of the hand, for example. You
can readily tense and relax this sphincter whenever you want.
The internal sphincter is quite different. This
muscle is controlled by the involuntary or autonomic part of the
nervous system, which governs such functions as heartbeat and stress
The internal sphincter reflects and responds to
fear and anxiety during anal sex. It will cause the anus to tense up
automatically even if the passive partner is trying to relax. Thus,
precautions about safety and comfort are essential here.
Even if a person does feel comfortable during anal
sex, he or she may still need to learn voluntary control over his or
her internal sphincter in order to relax it at will. Doing so requires
regularly inserting a finger, perhaps in the shower each day, and
feeling the internal sphincter. The muscle changes spontaneously and in
response to behavior. In this instance, simply paying attention is more
important than trying to relax. Anyone can gradually learn to control
the internal sphincter at will.
5. Anal stimulation provides many kinds of
The highest concentration of nerve endings is
around the anal opening itself. A finger can focus on them especailly
effectively. When an object or penis is inserted beyond the anal
opening into the rectum, other pleasures are involved. The outer
protion of the rectum, like the vagina, has several nerve endings. The
inner portion responds mostly to pressure.
Some people enjoy the feelings of pressure and
fullness once they understand that these sensations do not presage an
impending bowel movement. Rectal pressure is especially important to
enthusiasts of "fisting," a form of anal sex in which several fingers
or een the entire hand and forearm are inserted into the rectum and
sometimes into the lower colon.
In men, the protate - which is just beyond the
rectal wall, a few inches in, towards the front of the body - can be a
source of pleasure when massaged by a finger, an object, or a penis.
Also, the lower end of the penis, or "bulb," is near the anal opening
opening. It is stimulated indirectly by most types of anal sex.
Anal pleasure can be psychological as well as
physical. The anal taboo adds to the thrill of the forbidden. The most
common anti-anal message (it's dirty!) sometimes returns as a source of
raunchy, sleazy excitement. Rimming enthusiasts may enjoy the feeling
that they are being disgustingly - and delightfully - perverse. Other
people regard the anus as a secret, special place. Sharing it with a
partner is an act of openness and giving.
6. Anal stimulation can lead to orgasm
A minority of men and women can respond
orgasmically to anal sex without direct genital stimulation. Women
probably do so through pelvic muscle contractions - and a small
minority even though the sheer excitement of being anally penetrated.
When men expereience an orgasm from anal stimulation, they tend to
focus on the prostate. No doubt they are also responding to indirect
stimulation of the penile bulb.
Orgasms from anal stimulation are most likely to
occur when the participants become thoroughly absorbed in their
sensations and fantasies. An lmost certain way to prevent such an
orgasm is to be become determined to have one. Seeking an anal orgasm
will create new pressures and disrupt the pleasure.
It must be remembered that most people require
direct genital stimulation in order to climax. On the other hand, a few
people have orgasms only with anal stimulation.
7. Diet contributes to the enjoyment of anal sex
Regular bowel movements are the major function of
the anus and rectum. There must be sufficient fiber in a person's diet
to make his or her feces soft, bulky and well formed. This allows a
bowel movement to be produced without force or effort. Forced
evacuations irritate anal tissues, causing discomfort and adding to
muscular tensions. Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains or
unprocessed bran are important sources of fiber.
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
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
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 realtionship 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 indespensible for full erotic
enjoyment of the anus.
Jack Morin, PhD, was a San Francisco sex
therapist and researcher, authored Anal Pleasure
and Health: A Guide for Men and Women and same
Jack Morin (1946-2013) was a
psychotherapist, sex therapist, and professor of Human Sexuality in San
Francisco for almost 40 years.
wrote an all-time best seller which has remained in print since its
first publication, Anal Pleasure and Health (1981). Notable of
Jack's other three books is his classic treatise on the psychology
of sex---now so familiar to many in this organization---The Erotic
was an active member of the Western Region of the Society for the
Scientific Study of Sexuality (Quad S), contributing almost every year
as Program Chair, panel moderator, host/MC, a presenter, council
member, and/or president.
his work, he is going to be missed and remembered for his compassion,
love, friendship and his ability to be so non-judgmental and
accepting of others. His smile, love of life, and his ability to
connect with others will never be forgotten.
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