What You Can Do About Pain During Anal Sex

Photographed by Ashley Armitage.
It’s no secret that anal sex is becoming more and more popular — and for good reason. If done right, anal sex can be can great way to stimulate a major pleasure point. For people with penises, that’s the prostate, a gland located a few inches inside the anus. For people with vaginas, that’s the “anterior fornix erogenous zone,” aka the A-spot — a sensitive area of the internal part of the clitoris that is indirectly stimulated during anal sex. Some people can even squirt from anal sex!
While some simply don’t like the feeling of anal sex, many people love it. But if you try anal sex and it’s painful — instead of simply uncomfortable or just not your thing — should you be worried? We talked to Jennifer Driver, sex educator and State Policy Director at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), to find out.
“Pain after anal sex could indicate a number of things,” Driver explains. “For example, the anus doesn’t typically produce the lubrication needed for comfortable penetration, so the pain could be a result of not using enough lube. It could also be caused by moving too quickly, not giving the muscles in the anus enough time to relax.”
Both these situations are common and not cause for concern, unless the pain is severe or lasts more than a few days. However, some already-existing anal conditions — such as haemorrhoids — can be irritated by anal sex, and rough anal sex without lube can sometimes cause tearing. “If you experience prolonged discomfort after having anal sex, be sure to see a health care provider,” Driver says.
But if you experience minor pain during anal, using more lube, going more slowly, changing the position you're having anal sex in, and communicating with your partner will likely change how anal sex feels. (STIs can be transmitted through anal sex, so you'll likely want to use a condom as well.) You can also try anal penetration with something smaller than a penis or dildo — like fingering or a using a small butt plug — to see if you like how that feels. The most important thing is to listen to your body and communicate with your partner.
“The best way to ensure that anal sex is pleasurable and painless is to focus on communicating effectively with your partner,” Driver says. “Having patience and clearly identifying what might feel good and what might not feel good is vital for ensuring any healthy, enjoyable sexual activity.”
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