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Anal Play 101

Essential Tips for Exploring Anal Play

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Updated May 16, 2014

Couple sitting on bed
Betsie Van der Meer/The Image Bank/Getty Images

It may still be a taboo subject in public but survey research suggests that more men and women are exploring anal play in one form or another. The term anal play is used to describe any kind of sex play that involves the bum, anus, or rectum whereas the term anal sex is used to describe sex play that includes anal intercourse.

We tend to think about sex as something "natural" and therefore not tied to social pressures or fads. But like any other human activity, different kinds of sex can go through periods of popularity or fads.  Anal play may be more popular now, but that doesn't mean it's an essential part of a healthy or fun sex life. Like any sexual activity, anal play should be a choice, not a pressure or goal you feel you must reach.

If you're curious about anal play, you may want to read answers to common anal sex questions. If you're ready to explore, here are five important steps to exploring anal play pleasurably and safely.

Learn about the anus. These are some of the pleasure points: The opening of the anus contains the highest concentration of nerve endings. Thereafter, the anus responds mostly to feelings of fullness or pressure. Putting pressure on the ventral wall of the anus a couple of inches in will stimulate the  prostate gland. The tip of the (internal) clitoral body can also be stimulated through the anus.

Relax and take the time to explore your anal opening (sphincter muscles), anal canal, prostate gland. Be conscious of what feels good, what does not. Stop if you are overwhelmed by difficult or negative emotions. Breathe, relax, continue if you choose. If it hurts, do not force it. Pain is an indication that something is not quite right.

Open your mind to all the possibilities of anal play. These include touching with fingers or other body parts or objects, licking or oral-anal contact (known as analingus or rimming), pulling open the buttocks thereby stretching the anal opening, and penetration with fingers, toys, penis. Do not forget fantasy and dirty talking to augment anal play -- or during another type of play entirely!

Play safely. Because the lining of the anus is very sensitive to damage, special precautions should be taken. Anything near or in the anus should be smooth or free of jagged edges; cut fingernails short and round the edges with an emery board. Dildos with a flared base are advised - anything that slips out of your grasp may not be easily retrievable! Lubricant is essential for anal penetration as the anus does not produce its own lubrication.

Keep clean. Do not put anything from the anus to vagina -- bacteria that live quite happily in the anus with cause havoc in the vagina. Use a fresh condom on penis or toys and a fresh latex glove on hands, or wash very thoroughly. Use a dental dam or slice open a condom to use as a barrier for oral-anal contact.

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