The Anal Foreplay Tips You Need To Know

Photographed by Ashley Armitage.
Anal sex is low-key very high maintenance. In theory, all you have to do is put a penis or object into someone's anus — but that doesn't always go smoothly, literally and figuratively. Foreplay is extra important, if not mandatory, when you're having anal sex, because you have to get the anus ready for penetration. "Preparing the anus" sounds like a vibe-killer, but there are ways to make anal foreplay hot, so the rest of the experience is more relaxed and enjoyable, too.
One non-negotiable anal sex foreplay step? Talking about your boundaries before, during, and after, says Kristen Lilla, LCSW, certified sex therapist. "Revisit the conversation after you engage in anal play, because you might discover something you like and change your boundaries or create new ones." How much butt stuff you and your partner are comfortable with is totally personal, but once you feel like you're both on the same page, then you can experiment.
Here are some foreplay ideas that will help make anal sex feel way better, according to Lilla, Rachel Needle, PsyD, licensed psychologist and director of Modern Sex Therapy Institutes, and Francie Stone, PsyD, certified sex therapist.
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Set up your area.

Sometimes anal sex can be messy, so it's a good idea to prepare your bed (or wherever you're having sex) ahead of time, Dr. Stone says. But this doesn't have to be a boring or clinical step, and you can make it part of your foreplay routine, she says. "Lay towels on the bed or use a sex throw blanket, like the Liberator Fascinator Throw, which is designed to keep your sheets clean while being soft and supple and machine-washable," she says. Lay out your toys, lube, and anything else you plan to use during sex.
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Stimulate other body parts.

Although the anus is supposed to be the star of the show during anal sex, you and your partner will be able to relax more if you focus on other body parts, too, Lilla says. Provide stimulation in other ways, by using your other hand or your mouth on their genitals, or you could use a sex toy (like a vibrator) while you also play with their anus, she says. It's a win-win situation, because your orgasm might be even stronger with a more holistic approach to stimulation, and you'll be more relaxed when it comes time for anal penetration.
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Massage the butt.

Erotic massages are always welcome, but they can be particularly helpful before anal sex. Lilla suggests having the giver massage the receiver's butt, working your way to right around the anus before you insert anything.
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Wear a butt plug.

Anal-specific sex toys, such as butt plugs and anal beads, are designed to rub against the nerve endings in the anal area, so they can feel very good, Dr. Stone says. You might want to try wearing a butt plug during foreplay to "help prepare the anal muscles for penetration," she says.

It's always important to use toys that are actually intended for anal play, because there's always a chance that your anal muscles could "suck in" the toy or object if they're too small, Dr. Stone says. "Toys or objects must be over seven inches long or have a flange on one end," she says. And you should definitely clean your anal sex toys with anti-bacterial toy cleaner after use.
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Go slow and savor.

Anal sex takes patience, and you really do have to work your way up to having a penis or object inside your anus. Make sure your partner is moving at a speed that you're comfortable with, and tell them if you need to slow things down, Dr. Stone says. "Slow insertion, along with communication, will help to set everyone at ease and help your partner to know what feels good and what does not," she says. In other words, don't rush it, and try to savor the moments.
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Do something relaxing.

Spend a few minutes relaxing your mind and entire body before you have anal sex, Dr. Needle says. You and your partner might want to try listening to a guided meditation or practicing some simple deep-breathing exercises together. "Part of being relaxed is being comfortable and also being present," Lilla says. "It's hard to relax and be present if you're going through your to-do list in your mind."

If that's not your thing, just try to relax your anal muscles, Dr. Needle says. If your anal sphincter is relaxed (rather than tight), it'll make insertion easier and more pleasurable, Lilla says. "To see what that feels like, you can tighten them by squeezing your butt muscles and holding for a few seconds, and then releasing," she says. If your mind and body are relaxed, it will make things feel a little less scary.
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Finger your anus solo.

Feeling a finger, object, or penis inside the anus can be a very surprising sensation for some people, so it's helpful to practice a little bit beforehand, Dr. Stone says. Trim your nails, and use your fingers to explore the anal area, she says. You might want to hold a mirror to actually see where you're touching, and definitely use a lot of lube. "Notice the sensations within the anal area," Dr. Stone says. Try inserting one finger, and work up to several fingers if you feel ready.
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Take a shower with your partner.

Showering or bathing with your partner before anal sex is practical, and it can also be sexy. "Take a bath or shower together, not only to clean, but also to begin to relax and take pleasure in each other's bodies," Dr. Stone says. If you're into it, you can set the mood and atmosphere with massage candles or music that turns you on. "Begin communicating with each other lovingly," and use all your senses and hands to "explore each other's bodies all over," she says.
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Use your tongue.

If you feel comfortable, you can try rimming, or eating out your partner's anus. Initially, use a "soft and wet tongue" to make circles around your partner's anus, Dr. Stone says. "Then, one can begin pointing and thrusting the tongue," she says. This motion can help prep the anus for penetration, she says.

One note about rimming: There's always a chance that bacteria from the anus could transfer to someone's mouth or vagina and cause an infection, so you might want to use a dental dam, clean your mouth and anus before and after, and avoid double-dipping (meaning: don't insert a penis or object into someone's anus, and then directly into their vagina).

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