Pleasure Activist

Part iii: Anal sex is not supposed to be painful and addressing anxiety regarding anal cleanliness

In our workshop, Jessy Schmidt discussed the unfortunate misconception that many people have regarding anal sex—that it's supposed to be uncomfortable (or even painful) and we just need to "push past the pain" in order to get to that pleasure part. Not if we're doing it right. Sex is supposed to feel good. That's the whole point (procreation is just a weird side-effect). Pain is a warning to your body telling you to stop, slow-down, or change what you are doing. Our anal sphincters are muscles that are in charge of opening and closing our anus. They are densely packed with nerve endings, are in a state of contraction by default, and are largely responsible for whether anal penetration is pleasurable or painful. Lots of friction leads to chaffing and tearing, and on such a densely enervated area, that leads to lots of pain. We already went over this, though. So just use lots of lube! All the time!

Anal sphincters are muscles and just like other muscles, they require some stretching and warm-up before rigorous activity.

Our anal sphincters need to be in a state of relaxation in order for anal sex to feel comfortable. Thus, the "warm-up" in this context involves the type of foreplay that creates feelings of safety and relaxation. However, to take anal sex past feeling comfortable and into feeling pleasurable, our anal sphincters not only need to be relaxed, but also receptive. Arousal takes us past passive relaxation to active desire, and this is reflected in our anal muscles. (If you're curious, look at your partner's sphincter as they're leading up to and having an orgasm.) And "stretching," in this context, includes starting small and slowly working your way up. A finger, then two finger, a very small dildo (with a base), a slightly larger dildo, your partner's penis, and so on. This is not achieved all in one night! This is over a period of time. Some folks refer to this as "anal training."

However, relaxing a tightly contracted sphincter may also sometimes be out of our control. Whatever the reason for a tightly clenched sphincter may be, it is trying to tell you that it doesn't want anal sex today. Don't you want to pay attention to what your cute butt wants?

Then there is the kind of discomfort that may come with the feeling of fullness and pressure in your rectum or even just the experience of a new intense sensation. Take a moment to examine this feeling. Is it painful? Is it uncomfortable? Or is it just "weird"? If it's not painful, is this the kind of sensation you would like to explore further and see how things go? Or is it the kind of uncomfortable you don't care to spend any more time experiencing? If we're going to stick with the penetrative-anal-sex-as-running-marathon analogy, not everybody is into running.

Anxiety Regarding Anal Cleanliness

Individuals commonly express their concerns regarding fecal matter. Specifically, they are worried that their poop will get everywhere and it will be stinky, dirty, risky, and humiliating. Or something like that. Some basic knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of our rectums help alleviate some of those concerns.

Feces is not typically stored in the rectum. Feces in the rectum is accompanied by the feeling of having to go to the bathroom. So if you have to go "number two," then you have feces in your rectum. If you ignore this urge and don't go to the bathroom, then the material in your rectum is often returned up to your colon. There may be matter in our rectum if we are constipated, or there may be some leftover matter if the consistency of our feces is very soft. Many anal sex manuals strongly encourage a healthy high-fiber diet.

What this means is that penetrative anal sex is usually not messy (or at least not any messier than any other kind of sex). However, that does not mean it will never be messy. Sometimes it can be. Or if not messy, there may still be a little trace of fecal matter on that condom or dildo. There are three ways to deal with this. The first, and the one Schmidt strongly recommends, is to just be okay with it. Sometimes sex is awkward. Just consider anal sex that falls short of squeaky clean as something to add to that list of things that sometimes happen during sex.

Some folks opt for option two: enemas. This is not necessarily the healthiest route to take, as enemas can strip our rectums of a lot of its healthy microorganisms.

Option three for dealing with cleanliness related anxiety in the context of penetrative anal sex, especially if this anxiety is preventing you from enjoying said anal sex, is to simply not engage in penetrative anal sex. This is not necessarily an absolute. People feel differently at different times or around different lovers. You may feel less self-conscious about messy anal sex depending on the situation, your lover, or your mood, and choose to have anal sex only during those times and not others. It's all fair.

Ally Booker is a pleasure activist. You can often find her at her Tucson shop, Jellywink Boutique, 418 E. 7th St.. You