Ask Kayy

Dear Kayy,

I’ve been considering having anal sex with my boyfriend. We’ve been having sex for about a year now and we started talking about having anal a few months ago. We’re both curious, he’s not pressuring me or anything, but I realized all I really know about anal sex is that a lot of people don’t want to talk about it and I don’t feel comfortable asking my friends.

Curiously curious

Dear curiously curious,

It’s understandable why you’d be hesitant about asking someone about this topic. Common responses to the mention of anal sex are gasps, cringes or stunned silence. But why?

From a “moral” standpoint, any sex that is not strictly for the purpose of producing children is sinful. People who give in to carnal desire are considered weak. Sex for play or strictly for pleasure is inappropriate.

Enter anal sex. With anal sex, there is no possibility of becoming pregnant. So even while vaginal sex out of marriage may still be deemed immoral by some, it’s much more accepted.

But anal sex is not the only sexual act that simply functions as a means to an end – pleasure to the point of orgasm. For instance, the use of hands and fingers, or mutual masturbation, is very popular. Also, oral sex has nothing to do with procreation. Many people see oral sex as an alternative to regular sex if they’re not ready to or unable to have other types of sex. In these ways, oral sex is not very different from anal sex, yet the majority of the sexually active community sees oral sex as perfectly acceptable.

So why is anal sex different? Certainly one can argue that it involves penetrating an area that was not meant to be penetrated – but the same could be said of oral sex! So this can’t be the only reason anal sex is taboo. Every person who is against or at least uncomfortable with anal sex is hardly a religious zealot; many healthy, sexually active and open-minded people certainly avoid the topic.

Anal sex is socially different. If one researched anal sex, some of the topics you would come across are sodomy, HIV/AIDS, rape and homosexuality. These things cannot be ignored because they are historically appropriate.

Ideas of sodomy became so ingrained in modern society that it was actually illegal across the entire country for many years and is unfortunately still banned in certain states. To me, this seems to be less about the act and more about the people who are perceived to have anal sex. Such bans allow men and women to enjoy “normal” sex, while gay men’s sexuality and behaviors are restricted at the risk of legal repercussions.

This leads to one of the reasons why you might be uncomfortable with talking about anal sex: its link to homosexuality. When one thinks of anal sex, a mental picture may consist of two gay men in a sexual situation, when in actuality it is something that many straight couples have experimented with or enjoyed on a more regular basis. It may be strange to think of straight couples having anal sex, but that’s only because it’s relatively unmentioned in almost all mainstream media and sex education classes.

At first, many couples may be hesitant to explore this region because of all these taboos. Some people try it out and are totally turned off. However, others end up truly enjoying it. It’s been said that while sexual urges are biological, the way desire is expressed and e xperienced is socially constructed.

In other words, once two people can let go of the fact that anal sex is forbidden and not widely approved of, they often find that their bodies like what their neighbors look down upon. If it turns you on, it turns you on.

Now, I can already hear the disapproving grumbles. I’m not suggesting everybody go run out and try it – but the fact of the matter is that people think about anal sex. They’re curious about anal sex, and some people are even having anal sex. So my only goal is to make sure people do it in a healthy and safe manner.

First off and most importantly, I am not saying that there is absolutely no risk with having anal sex. Thus far, I’ve only talked about social consequences. So it is necessary to say that there is a higher risk of contracting or spreading sexually transmitted infections and diseases during anal sex than with vaginal or oral sex because of pressure and possible tearing. That is why it’s crucial, and I mean crucial, to use protection.

Even though I always urge using protection during other types of sex, it really is necessary with anal sex. Condoms also provide extra lubrication, and it’s also important to use a lubricant that is compatible with condoms as well. It is also important to know that there is a good chance this will hurt a lot.

Lubricant is necessary because condoms are more likely to break during anal sex than during vaginal sex. It is also dangerous to switch from anal to vaginal sex or vice versa, because of bacteria that can cause infections. If you insist on having both in one session, you have to change condoms.

It isn’t completely pleasurable for a woman. I would try getting “extra” attention at the same time by your man. If for some reason you let him “complete the transaction” during anal without a condom, be careful of leakage because that part of your body is not used to things going in.

I hope this helps and that you continue to thoroughly think out any sexual decisions before acting. Anal sex may not be for everyone, but investigating it couldn’t hurt! Take it slow, very slow, and make sure you tell your partner if you’re uncomfortable at any point.

– Kayy