Could Anal Sex Be Healthy?

Published on

Anal sex. Those two words bring to mind different images for so many people. But, no matter what image pops into your head, I can share that anal sex is on most peoples’ wish lists. However, when thinking about anal sex, doing it for health reasons usually isn’t foremost in your mind. Right?

I’m here to change that. Let’s explore the possibility that anal sex could be healthy.

First, let’s make sure we’re on the same page. What exactly is anal sex? Anal sex, or anal intercourse, is usually the insertion of a penis, sex toy or finger into a person’s anus, or anus and rectum, for sexual pleasure. And the act of anal sex can be traced back to ancient Greece over 4,000 years ago. At that time, it was referred to as ‘coitus a tergo’ because one person adopts a submissive posture during the act. 

For ancient Greeks, there were no sexual preference labels and most people had anal sex with others, no matter gender, because it felt good. That brings me to the first healthy benefit of anal sex.

Feeling good, especially via orgasm, helps release dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins, chemicals responsible for your happiness. Plus, every time you reach orgasm, your body releases DHEA, a hormone known to boost immune systems, improve cognition, and help keep skin healthy.

And we’re just getting started!

According to 2019 research on American anal sex habits, statistics show that anal play is gaining popularity. 

    • 72% have received OR given anal sex.
    • 26% have received AND given anal sex.
    • 17% have tried pegging.
    • 53% have tried anal sex toys or fingers on themself.
    • 49% have tried anal toys and fingers on someone else.
    • 28% of people surveyed have never tried anal sex.

Although anal sex can be considered taboo by some, it is one of the most common ways of having sex regardless of the sexual orientation of those who practice it. Something to keep in mind-anal sex can be enjoyed by anyone. It's not for one specific sexuality or gender identity.

Something else that isn’t gender specific? Stress. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, stress can affect everyone and long-term stress can harm your health. When it comes to stress relief, sex can help.

As previously mentioned, ‘happy hormones’ such as oxytocin and endorphins are released during sex, helping elevate moods and can help with overall relaxation. And anal sex can take your mind off stress-triggers even if climax isn’t reached. 

But why anal sex?

Because if releasing hormones and reaping the benefits of pleasure are important, having anal sex may be an almost guaranteed option. According to a study by The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 94% of females who received anal sex reported having an orgasm. 

The anus has an abundance of nerves, making it very sensitive and anal stimulation can be quite pleasurable. As a bonus, in males the prostate can be stimulated during anal sex, while females can enjoy indirect G-spot stimulation. This additional stimulation may lead to more intense orgasms. 

According to research by Harvard Medical School, an additional benefit of anal play is that prostate stimulation may help prevent and treat erectile dysfunction (ED), prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate), and painful ejaculation. 

In addition to other health benefits, studies by Paul Zak, PhD, at Claremont Graduate University in California have found the hormone oxytocin, released during sex, to be important in building trust and may also be involved in a persons’ sense of well-being. 

Can trying anal sex can bring a spark back to your relationship?

The short answer? Yes.

Trying something new or something considered forbidden, such as anal sex, can cause a rush of adrenaline. And adrenaline can naturally activate excitement and sexual feelings, making you feel closer to your partner in ways other types of sexual activities cannot. 

Anal sex demands good communication between partners as well, which can help intensify emotional intimacy. When both partners feel safe and understood, they may experience feelings of positivity that help them feel better connected.  

Healthful preparation is a great way to get ready for anal play. Consider starting with an anal trainer set to help prepare for sex play. This step can make anal sex more comfortable and enjoyable. Lubricant designed specifically for anal play is also important. Because the rectum is not self-lubricating, anal lubricant should be applied generously and often. 

Quick Recap: Why Anal Sex Can Be Considered Healthy

  • It can help release healthy hormones dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins.
  • It can help your body release immune boosting DHEA.
  • It can help relieve stress.
  • It may allow you a greater opportunity to reach orgasm.
  • It may help prevent and treat erectile dysfunction (ED), prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate), and painful ejaculation.
  • It can bring renewed sexual energy into your relationship.
  • It can help lead to greater intimacy. 

For me, there seems to be an abundance of information that anal sex just might be good for you. 

Have you tried anal sex? Would you like to? I would love to hear from you! Share your experiences, tips, and anal adventures. Have a question about anal sex? Let me know! I am here to help.

Back To Ask Dr. Sunny Blog

Dr. Sunny Rodgers is a clinician, author, and speaker who has worked in the wellness industry since 2000. She holds a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality, a Master of Arts in Clinical Sexology, and is an accredited Sexual Health Educator. She is the Founder of The Institute of Intimate Health, an Ambassador for the American Sexual Health Association, regular lecturer for the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Sexual Confidence Coach for the Marigold App, and a professional Sex Toy Concierge™. Rodgers hosted a popular weekly show on Playboy Radio, has been an expert guest on several TV and radio programs, and is a regular contributor to HuffPost, Men's Health, Cosmo, Bustle, and many more publications.