Does Anal Sex Hurt?

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Does Anal Sex Hurt | PinkCherry


When people ask "does anal sex hurt?", we would love nothing more than to say “Nope! Go have some toe-curling, heart-pounding, erotic fun!” The truth is, anal sex shouldn’t hurt, but sometimes, it can. Now, before you jump to conclusions and cross butt sex off your list, hear us out. Armed with some good information, great relaxation techniques and lots and lots (and lots) of a good quality lube, painful anal sex is usually avoidable. 

Notice the word usually? Even when both partners are willing and eager to have anal sex, and have done everything right, a small amount of pain or discomfort can still happen, on occasion. So, how can you be preventative when it comes to avoiding pain in between the sheets?

We’re here to help! PinkCherry dives into all the reasons you might experience pain during anal sex and what you can do to minimize it, swapping that pain for some oh-so-sweet pleasure.


What Causes the Pain?

Let’s break it down, because no one enjoys painful sex of any kind. Assuming that everyone involved consents and is comfortable with anal sex, there are a few reasons why you could still experience some pain. These are often due to inexperience with anal sex and, luckily, they usually go away as you and your partner learn the ropes. We’ve got the answers for why does anal sex hurt? So, let’s explore safe backdoor play together!


You’re Skipping Foreplay

This should be a crime no matter what type of sex you’re having. Why would you skip the best part? Sure, the main event is nice, but the foreplay is where everything comes together. You set the scene, put on your sexiest smile, give a come-hither shimmy, and things progress from there. Foreplay is when you take the time to relax and start preparing for what’s to come (pun intended).


You’re Not Using Lube

Lube, lube, lube – we really can’t say it enough. A lack of adequate lubricant is one of the most common causes of pain and injury during anal sex. Your anus, unlike the mouth or the vaginal canal, does not provide its own lubricantion, so lube is what you have to bring to the party. Water-based and silicone-based lubricants are both great, as well as any lube specifically made for anal sex. Bottom line - DO NOT skimp on lube. It’s definitely your friend when it comes to backdoor frolicking!


You’re Not Relaxing

Hey, we get it; it’s hard to relax when you’ve got something going the wrong way up your backdoor. This comes back to why foreplay is so critical. You need to take deep breaths and slowly work your way up to a penis or a dildo. In addition to remembering to breathe, you can start with a single finger and then move up to two, then three, and even four as you slowly stretch out the muscle. Go slow and enjoy. This is not a race, at all!


You’re Not Switching Up the Angles

While most people prefer doggy-style for anal sex, there are plenty of different angles available. Should your partner be thrusting downwards? Upward? Maybe shuffling to one side or another? Or you might be one of those people who prefer to hitch their legs up to their chest and lay on their backs while being penetrated.

Whatever you decide, you’ll want to try a variety of positions and angles with your partner to see what feels right for both of you. Plus, switching it up can help the pleasure last longer, and prolonging pleasure is always a good thing.


You’re Not Easing into It

Unlike vaginal or oral sex, anal sex isn’t something that can be rushed into. There’s no such thing as spur-of-the-moment anal sex. You both need to be prepared, mentally and physically. Sure, there will always be people who complain that too much planning is a mood killer, but there are plenty of sexy ways to get into the groove without compromising your safety and comfort.


You Haven’t Done This Before

For many people, their first few times experiencing anal sex can be a little bit painful. You might notice some mild pain or tiny drops of blood afterward. These are things to monitor for a few hours after you’re finished, but you don’t have to stress too much about it.

It’s only if the pain becomes intense, continues for more than an hour, or if you’re bleeding more than a drop here and there that is cause for concern. If you notice any of those symptoms, you should immediately seek medical care.

You might feel uncomfortable explaining to your doctor that you just had anal sex, but we promise you’ll be a lot more uncomfortable if there’s something really wrong and you ignored it. Doctors can check for possible tears or perforations - both possible due to the delicate nature of  your anal canal. Better safe than sorry!


How to Prepare

As you know now, in order to allow something to pass through without hurting you, your anal sphincter must relax. Take the time to gently massage the region with your fingertips, lips, or tongue. You'll need to be careful and try to relax as much as possible, so keep in touch with your partner and take your time. We guarantee your erotic romp will go much smoother if both parties are happy, relaxed, and moving slowly. Consider familiarizing yourself with the sensation by using starter sex toys like anal beads or butt plugs.

Start by rubbing around the area to help the muscles relax. Once you’ve added some lubrication, try gently inserting the finger, just to the first knuckle. After you become accustomed to the feeling, you can pump it in and out until you’re ready to take it deeper. We recommend being able to comfortably accommodate at least three fingers before trying a penis or adult sex toy.

Oh, and to answer the surprisingly common question does anal sex make your butt bigger?, the answer is no.


What to do During Anal Sex

Anal sex, like any other kind of sex, requires constant communication. Since some anal sex positions will see partners facing away from each other, your partner won’t be able to read your facial expressions or hear those sighs of pleasure you’re muffling into the bed. However, you agree to get the message across, you need to let your partner know what feels good, what doesn’t, and if you start feeling like there’s a concern.


Safety Tips

When asking the question “is anal sex safe?”, there are some crucial safety tips that you should keep in mind if your partner wants to try anal sex.


Use Protection

We cannot recommend using protection enough. Yes, it’s very unlikely that you or your partner could get pregnant from anal sex, but trust us, condoms are really the best way to go. They don’t just protect from pregnancy, they also help stop STIs from spreading.


Switch Condoms

If you decide to switch from anal sex to vaginal or oral, it is essential that you switch condoms or wash your toys before you switch. The reason is a little gross but bear with us. Fecal matter has lots of harmful bacteria in it that can make people sick and cause infections. Just rinsing with plain water isn’t enough; you need soap to do the job.

Even if you rinsed yourself out beforehand with an enema, you can’t get rid of everything. Microscopic bacteria are virtually impossible to totally wash out of yourself, and it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health and wellbeing. Does it take a few extra seconds? Yes! And sure, it might break the mood a little, but we think that’s a pretty small price to pay.


Trim Those Nails

Long nails scraping delicate skin is the last thing you want. It's not a pleasant sensation, believe us. What's more, when you start moving the finger inside? Ouch! Sharp items, such as human fingernails, are simply too much for a sensitive anal canal to handle. Make sure no one has a scraggly nail or needs a trim before you start heating things up. 


Practice Communication

Make sure to check in with your partner—whether you're given or receiving. It's important to know when to slow down, and when to speed it up!


In Conclusion

Now that you know what may cause pain during anal sex, you can take steps to prevent discomfort and help ensure that you and your partner both have a pleasurable experience. After all, anal sex is supposed to be exhilarating, sexy, and totally hot, not painful. Plus, there are some exciting and unexpected benefits of anal sex that you may have not considered before! So, prep your backdoor properly and prepare for some erotic fun like no other!  



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Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Sunny Rodgers

This content was reviewed for accuracy and relevancy by Dr. Sunny Rodgers.

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.