As 2018 winds down and we settle into the swing of the holiday season, it’s time to start thinking about the New Year’s resolutions we want to set for the year ahead. Although practical things like saving money, landing a new job, or forming healthy habits are totally worthwhile goals to set, the truth is that your New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be all work and no play – and if you’ve been curious about anal play, the start of the new year is the perfect time to experiment.
“Patience, communication, slowing down – all of these are pillars in a pleasurable anal experience,” says Alicia Sinclair, sex educator and CEO of b-Vibe, a company that makes body-safe anal play products. “These are great traits to apply to your sex life in 2019, and anal play is the perfect way to explore them.”
The idea of setting sexual “goals” might sound silly, but having a fulfilling sex life is just as important to your overall health and happiness as any other part of your life… so why wouldn’t you make it a priority to explore and grow as a sexual being? Because it involves time, patience, and lots of prep work, getting started with anal play can be intimidating – which actually makes it the ideal sex act to proactively “work on” at the start of a new year, when you’re feeling inspired and future-focused.
“Setting sex-related goals for yourself is a great way to step outside your sexual comfort zone,” says Dr. Zhana Vrangalova, LELO sexpert and NYU professor of Human Sexuality. “Anal play specifically can be intimidating for anyone, but even taking small steps to incorporate it into your sex life can open up a new world of sensation.”
In fact, anal play has become much more mainstream and accepted in recent years,Dr. Vrangalova says. In the early 1990s, she says, only about 8-10% of US heterosexual married couples reported trying anal sex. In 2015, on the other hand, about 40% of US men and women report having tried it at least once – and about 17% have used anal sex toys.
Clearly, the stigma that anal sex is “dirty” or reserved only for gay men is finally on its way out (and good riddance). Now, conversations about pleasure are more inclusive and all-encompassing, and society as a whole is becoming less judgmental where sexual interests, desires, and kinks are concerned. In regards to anal, this means that more folks are realizing that there’s nothing gross or taboo about it. Anal stimulation can feel good regardless of your gender identity or sexual orientation, and that’s something worth celebrating, not shaming.
“The great thing about anal play is that everyone has a butt regardless of gender, and everyone’s butt has nerve endings that can feel good when stimulated,” says Dr. Vrangalova. “For people with prostates, the prostate is an additional pleasure point that you can reach with anal penetration. People with vaginas may also be able to stimulate their G-spot through anal penetration.”
If you’re a butt-stuff beginner, Dr. Vrangalova suggests starting slow with non-penetrative activities, like stimulating the outside of your anus with your fingers or a vibrating toy. Once you feel ready for penetration, make sure you use lots and lots of lube, start small (one finger or a small toy works well) and go slooow. It’s also a good idea to spend some solo time experimenting anally before bringing a partner into the mix, just so you can get acquainted with your body and what does – and does not – feel good.
“Anal play is a great New Year's resolution because it's not a one-and-done goal,” says Sinclair. “It takes time to train your body to be able to enjoy certain types of anal play. Make it a sexy project to work up to a toy you've had your eye on this year.”
The more time you spend working on anal training, the more doors to pleasure you can potentially unlock. But it’s important to keep in mind that being interested in anal play doesn’t necessarily mean you have to want to work your way up to full-blown anal sex. If you figure out that a little light anal play is all you want or need, that’s totally OK: your journey with anal is yours and yours alone, and not having anal sex doesn’t mean you “failed” at your goal.
So if anal play is something that’s piqued your interest but you never felt like the time was ripe to get started, consider the New Year your chance to make your own pleasure a priority through anal experimentation – and maybe put some lube on your holiday shopping list while you’re at it.