For many gay men, anal sex can be a large root of anxiety. What is a top? What is a bottom? Does it hurt? With little representation in the media and in sex education, many gay men know little about anal sex. This lack of knowledge and the unfortunate societal taboo associated with anal sex can lead to unpleasant experiences that may affect the way you feel about sex forever. However, by knowing more about anal sex, you can make an informed choice about it and reduce the anxiety that comes from a lack of knowledge. It can become an important and enjoyable part of your sex life if you have some background knowledge and are willing to give it a try. This article is designed to give you scientific knowledge as well as practical advice to help you have a pleasurable anal sex experience.
Understand the Basics
To have better anal sex, it is important to understand the anatomy of your anus. The anus is the external opening of the rectum, and is controlled by two rings of muscles known as the external and internal sphincters. Control of the external sphincter is generally voluntary while the internal sphincter in involuntary, meaning you are not able to control it. Difficulties can arise if the two sphincters are too tense, which makes it difficult (and sometimes painful) for a penis to enter. After passing through the two sphincters, the penis travels through the anal passage, then into the rectum. Both the anus and rectum have the ability to expand and stretch, and can generally accommodate penises of any size.[i]
The Pleasure of Anal Sex
Like the penis, the anus is full of sensitive nerve endings, which can make anal sexual activity very enjoyable for many men. During anal sex the prostate gland (a walnut-sized gland located between the bladder and the penis) can be stimulated, which many men find extremely pleasurable. The prostate gland is oftentimes referred to as the male G-spot, and is believed to enhance orgasm when stimulated.[ii]
Along with the physical stimulation you experience during anal sex, the psychological stimulation can be just as important in order to have a pleasurable experience. Having anal sex with someone you are attracted to can be intimate and romantic, or perhaps hot, heavy, and erotic. Whichever the case, the psychological stimulation during anal sex is an important aspect in the overall sexual experience.
Become Comfortable With Your Anus
To have pleasurable anal sex, it is important for you to first become comfortable with your own anus. The majority of men experiment with the stimulation of their penis from an early age, but that is not often the case with the anus.
Start by lying on your back, on a bed, or even in a warm bath. Once you are comfortable, start by gently massaging the area around your anus, including the perineum. As you become more relaxed, add lubrication to your finger, and gently press against the surface of your anus. Repeat this several times, and increase the pressure slightly each time. When you become comfortable enough to insert your finger into your anus, keep things slow and gentle, taking time to relax your external sphincter. Once inside, you may be able to find your prostate. You will recognize it as a small, walnut-sized bump locates approximately two inches inside your anus.[iii]
Once feeling comfortable with the insertion of your finger, you can experiment with different sex toys such as dildos or anal beads. It is important to remember to take your time until you are comfortable and enjoy the sensations you feel. Becoming comfortable with your anus is a personal and ongoing process. Use plenty of lube and take it slow, there is no rush!
One thing on the minds of most gay men before they have anal sex is hygiene. Having an accident while having anal sex, whether it be an unwanted leak or smell, can be embarrassing for the bottom partner. It’s important to remember that everybody has bowel movements, and that accidents can happen to anyone. However, there are preparations you can make to have a clean anal sexual experience and minimize any unwanted accidents.
An enema is a device used to flush waste out of the anal cavity. An enema pushes liquid into your anus and rectum to clean them out. Enemas can be purchased at your local drug store at a very low cost without a prescription. Note that using an enema too often can be harmful to your anal cavity
How To Use an Enema
- Clean the douche before use. The tissue of your rectal cavity tears easily, and any filth on the device can increase the likelihood of contracting an infection.
- Fill the device with warm water. Do not use scolding hot water or water with soap. Soap can irritate the anal cavity and cause infections.
- Lubricate the douche and the anal cavity
- Lay on your left side, or in the downward position.
- Insert the douche into your anal cavity and squeeze the bulb to release the water into the rectum. Squeeze the bulb with ease. Notice how your body reacts to the water prior to squeezing more water into the body.
- Remove the douche and release the water inside your rectum.
- Continue the process until the water remains clear and free from any filth.[iv]
Anal Sex Without an Enema
Though many men prefer to use an enema before engaging in anal sex, it is not always necessary, and most certainly not a requirement. Though cleaning your anus with an enema may be helpful in planned sexual situations, it is not always a practical option for spontaneous sexual encounters.
While the anus and rectum do not usually store feces, there may be remnants left behind. Make sure to clean the area around your anus, showering if possible. You can use your finger to check and see if you feel any remnants of feces inside you, which can be cleaned out using your finger and warm water. If you do clean yourself out, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly.
Though the process of cleaning out your anus may seem embarrassing, it is important to talk to your partner about it if it is something you are worried about. Even in a spontaneous sexual situation, communication is important in ensuring both parties have a clear understanding of any preparations made beforehand, and can prepare for a potential accident if it occurs. This is an issue that affects every gay man, and is something worth discussing with your partner.
Safe Sex is Better Sex
Like in all sexual encounters, it is important to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) while bottoming. Be aware that anal sex is the riskiest form of sex when it comes to transmitting HIV, with the bottom partner having a higher risk of becoming infected than the top partner. The tissue inside the anus is more delicate than our external skin, and is at greater risk for tearing and infection. Tears inside of the anus allow STIs direct access into a person’s bloodstream, increasing one’s chance of contracting a blood-born STI such as HIV.
How to Protect Yourself
- Use condoms every time you have sex and use water-based lubrication (oil-based lube destroys condoms). Don’t let your partner pressure you otherwise – you are the one most at risk!
- Get tested for STIs regularly to know your status. If you are infected, early treatment will keep you healthier and reduce your chances of infecting others.
- Get vaccinated! Gay men are at greater risk for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and the human papillomavirus (HPV). For this reason, the CDC recommends that you be vaccinated against hepatitis A and hepatitis B. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is also recommended for men up to age 26.
- Get to know your partners before you have sex with them. Even if it is a casual encounter, do not be afraid to ask them about their STI history.[v
Though the importance of condoms cannot be stressed enough, situations do arise in which condoms are not used or break. If you are with a consistent monogamous partner and have both been tested, it is perfectly fine to have unprotected anal sex. However, if you are not with a consistent partner and still insist on not using condoms, please take note of the following information.
- It is safer to use oil based lube when not using a condom. Be sure to apply a generous amount to avoid tears of the anus.
- Do not use an enema. Cleaning out your anal cavity may also cause tearing and increase your risk of contracting an STI.
- Do not let your partner be too rough! Rough sex can cause anal tearing
- Make sure your partner does not ejaculate inside of you. Though you are already in a high risk situation, having your partner finish outside the anal cavity is slightly safer than having him finish inside of you.
Now that you have educated yourself on the basics of bottoming, preparation, and potential risks, it is time to have sex!
Getting It In
One of the most challenging aspects of anal sex is the insertion of the penis into the anus. You may want to start with some foreplay, such as letting your partner finger you (using plenty of lube) until you relax. Being relaxed is essential. Though you have some control over your external sphincter, it is important that you internal sphincter is relaxed or penetration will be difficult. Use plenty of lubrication, generously applying it to both your anus and your partner’s penis. When the penis is inserted into the anus, it is important it is done gently. Be sure to communicate with your partner, as forcing your partner’s penis inside of you will be painful. Instead, relax your anus onto the penis. If you are having difficulty, use more lubrication, and have your partner lead his penis with a finger during insertion. This can sometimes help your anus relax, and facilitate the entrance.
How Does It Feel?
For many, the first few times bottoming can be painful. When your partner’s penis is first inserted into your anus, ask your partner to go slowly. An initial burning sensation is normal, but should not be overtly uncomfortable. If you feel pain at any point, ask him to stop and be still while he is inside of you, and then let him try moving again. Some pain is natural, but if you are in too much pain, communicate with your partner and ask him to stop; you are the bottom, and you have the power.
Though often associated with passiveness, bottoms can dominate the sexual experience. Some bottoms are known as “power bottoms,” and enjoy taking control over the top partner and the penetration. There are many sex positions that you can enjoy with your partner that can have both dominant and passive roles. Do what feels right to you, and do not be afraid to switch it up. Engaging in a variety of sex positions can greatly enhance your bottoming experience.
Best of Luck! Hopefully this article was able to help you make a more informed opinion regarding anal sex and bottoming. The most important thing to remember is that anal sex is not mandatory. Many gay men abstain from anal sex and have very happy and fulfilling sex lives without it. You should never feel pressured into having anal sex if it is not something you are comfortable with. However, it is something that you will most likely get better at and enjoy more with experience and over a period of time. You will discover what works for you and what doesn’t, and discover that the anal sex is a unique experience for each individual. Relax, explore, have fun, and learn what feels right for you.
- “The Anus” WebMD. 2014. Web. 7 May 2015.
- “The Prostate” WebMD. 2014. Web. 7 May 2015.
- “The Happy Bottom: Tips for Hotter and Safer Anal Sex” Mamba Online. 24 April 2013. Web. 7 May 2015.
- “Beginner’s Guide to Anal Douche and Enema” HerbalLove. Web. 7 May 2015.
- “CDC Fact Sheet: What Gay, Bisexual and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men Need to Know About Sexually Transmitted Diseases” CDC Online. Web. 7 May 20
Last Updated 7 May 2015.