In case you weren’t already aware, playing with your butt can create the type of pleasure that makes you walk around the entire next day grinning to yourself like, “Wow, that happened.” (If you were already aware of this fact, my biggest congratulations to you and your backside.) See, your anus and its surrounding skin have a bunch of highly sensitive nerves that can take you on a pretty wild ride, depending on how your body works. For some people, it’s even possible to reach the back of the clitoris through the adjoining anal wall. (Yup, your clitoris isn’t just that external nub above your vagina—it has internal components, too. Surprise!)
This doesn’t mean you should dive right into butt play without the proper prep. If you do this, it might not be enjoyable, which could put you off something you might otherwise be into. Plus, it could really hurt. As a sex coach and educator, it brings me great joy to offer up the following tips on how to explore your butt in the safest—and most fun—way possible.
1. Make sure you actually want to try butt play.
Sometimes it might feel like everyone is obsessed with butt stuff. It gets a starring role in a whole lot of porn; and it’s even become more of media darling recently, with more publications (hi, including SELF) talking about why anal can be such a pleasurable activity. But none of that matters if you aren’t remotely drawn to the idea.
In my line of work, I often speak with people (especially cisgender women) who are only having anal sex for their partner. If your interest in anal is solely because you want to please a partner (or worse, because your partner is pressuring you to try it), it’s really unlikely to be fun or pleasurable. Anal play should be something you’re curious about or excited by if you’re going to try it.
So, explore your reasons for wanting to explore your butt. If it sounds sexy to you and you like the idea of giving it a go, that’s a great sign.
2. Have an open conversation with your partner ahead of time.
If you feel really safe and comfortable experimenting with a bit of anal stimulation in the moment, that’s up to you and your partner. But I really recommend sitting down with your partner beforehand and talking about anal play. Be open and honest about wanting to try something a little new. Anal play can feel great, so there’s nothing wrong or weird about wanting to give it a spin.
It might help to know your stuff before you have this conversation. Read a few articles on butt play. Ask a few experienced friends for tips. You won’t be an anal scholar after basic research (if only), but you’ll be more prepared to start your journey.
Consider coming to your partner with ideas, too. Perhaps there is a butt plug you’d like to try. (I’m a big fan of the b-Vibe Novice Plug and Doc Johnson’s various anal sex trainer kits). Or maybe there’s a hot clip of anal sex you want to share with them. Whatever the case, talking over exactly what you want to do (and laying ground rules like what you’ll say if you want to stop) can make the whole experience much better.
3. Don’t stress about the poop thing too much.
Anal newbies regularly ask me if they need to do an enema before any butt play. Some people decide to use enemas to flush their rectums with water or saline and basically clean themselves out as much as possible before anal, but you do not need to do an enema if you don’t want to. I promise you this isn’t necessary. (If trying an enema would really make you more comfortable, that’s fine, but you shouldn’t do them more often than once every couple of months, as SELF previously reported.)
Instead, I’d suggest a less intensive route. Try to poop within an hour or two of anal play so there’s less of a chance that a ton of poop is hanging out in your rectum. Then you can get in the shower and wash your butt with water and gentle soap before engaging in anal play.
There might still be traces of poop in your rectum, which probably isn’t ideal for you but is honestly fine. You’re playing with the hole where poop comes out, so…you might come into contact with some poop. This is a fact of life. So is the fact that poop is no match for soap and water, and using a condom makes it especially easy to get rid of any anal-induced fecal matter. (And you should really be using a condom unless you’re in a committed monogamous relationship and have both recently gotten tested for sexually transmitted infections.)
The sooner you accept that shit happens, the sooner you can really enjoy anal without worrying too much about a natural substance your body creates.
4. Start with fingers and toys.
Do not, and I repeat, do not jump into anal penetration with something large like a penis or dildo. Your butt is not up for that challenge. The anal sphincter is the muscle ringing the anus that keeps it nice and taught to prevent poop from slipping out at inopportune moments. It does not naturally expand the way the vagina does, so you need to work your way up to big objects.
Instead, when you’re as relaxed and turned on as possible, start your exploration with fingers and smaller anal toys. (Make sure any toy you put in your anus has a flared base so you don’t swallow it right up.) Breathe into the new sensation, which can feel a bit strange to start. It can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few weeks of experimenting to figure out if you like the feeling and get used to it even if you do.
Listen to your body, and only move on to bigger objects when you’re ready. Once you’re feeling up for trying penetration with something like a penis or dildo, I often recommend beginners start by lying on their sides (you can use a pillow to prop up your hips for more lift) or their backs. These positions don’t always allow for the kind of deeper, fuller penetration of being on all fours or on top, which may make your anal intro a little more comfortable.
Also, keep in mind that being penetrated doesn’t mean you can’t set the pace. You can still be in control; ask your partner to keep still and allow you to back up into their penis or the sex toy so you can really get a feel for the whole thing.
5. Use lots (and lots) of lube.
If you asked me for three non-negotiable tools for anal success, I’d say lube, lube, and, hm…more lube. For anal sex, lube is an absolute must-have. Your anus does a lot of great things, but that does not include lubricating itself. So, in order to avoid a lot of discomfort and possibly even tearing your delicate anal lining, you’ve gotta help out your butt.
I recommend using either a silicone- or oil-based lube for anal play. They have great staying power. My favorites are Boy Butter, The Butters, and Uberlube. Keep in mind that if you’re using condoms, oil-based lubes (like The Butters or Boy Butter) cannot be used with latex. Oil corrodes latex, which can make the condom break. And you shouldn’t use silicone-based lube with silicone toys such as butt plugs, as it can damage your toy’s material. I know it might take some mixing and matching, but I guarantee that finding the right lube for your anal experience can make the whole process way more fun.
6. Don’t push your limits.
There’s a difference between something feeling new and different and something actively hurting or not being right for you. If at any point you’re too uncomfortable or just not into trying out anal stimulation anymore, tell your partner it’s time to stop. (Or call it quits yourself if you’re masturbating.) Maybe you need more lube or to go more slowly, or maybe anal isn’t for you. No matter what, respecting your own limits is key. It’s perfectly fine to take a breather or bring your entire anal journey to an end!
7. Clean up afterward.
After you’re finished with anal play, it’s time to clean up. When it comes to your body, you can use gentle body wipes (that should be fragrance-free to avoid irritating your delicate skin down there), hop in the shower, or both. You should also thoroughly clean any sex toys you used. The exact way you do this really depends on the specific toy in question, so to help you out, here’s more information about the best way to clean all of your sex toys. Finally, we can’t talk about post-sex cleanup without mentioning stains. Luckily, SELF has a whole guide for getting rid of sex stains, poop or otherwise.
All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.