Sex & Lust Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other staff.


I had a girlfriend once who asked me at the end of a love making session if I wanted "to do anything else?" She was asking if I wanted to have anal sex. I have never had anal sex. I don't recall ever being conditioned that this was not normal but my instinct tells me that this activity is abnormal. Is this safe? Are there things one should know about if it is tried?


You are not alone in having mixed feelings at the thought of anal intercourse. It is not as frequently talked about as penile-vaginal intercourse nor as commonly practiced (see previous column for information on frequency). As with any sexual practice, do not allow yourself to be pressured into any activity that does not feel OK. You, as well as your partner, have the right to say no and either of you can change your minds in either direction at any time. That is what the phrase, "between consenting adults" is about. You are wise to gather as much good information as you can to help clarify your decision. Then you may decide to give it a try or to keep things as they are.

So here are some things that are good to know about anal intercourse. Is it safe? Well, certainly, there is reduced danger of becoming pregnant. However, one drop of seminal fluid or semen spilled too closely to the mouth of the vaginal opening can lead to impregnation. Keeping track of such secretions can be a chore when in the throes of passion. Make sure that such fastidiousness is not the last thing on your lover's mind if you choose to experiment with any type of sex that might result in sperm being deposited in the general area of your vagina.

Also, while anal intercourse does not cause AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), it can lead to transmission of AIDS or other STDs when either partner is infected. This is because the rectum is not self-lubricating like the vagina or even the mouth. The delicate tissues there are easily irritated or damaged and can be an easy route into the body for infecting agents.

And of course, there is the matter of fecal matter. It is filled with bacteria that can cause very painful infections if transferred to the mouth, penis or vagina. Therefore, there are some very Important Things To Do if anal intercourse is to be a safer and more pleasurable experience:

  1. Use lots and lots of lubricant. This should be water-based (have no oils in it), especially when used in conjunction with condoms.
  2. Use condoms to reduce the possibility of transmitting STDs or transferring feces. Remove the condom and carefully wash the penis before engaging in any other activities.
  3. Entry should be gentle and thrusting slower and shallower than in vaginal intercourse to prevent or reduce irritation or tearing of rectal tissues.
  4. Experiment with angles of entry and positions to reduce discomfort and increase pleasure