Anal 101: What Sex Education Didn’t Teach You

Written by Caitlin Chow-Ise (she/they), Creator of @thes3xtalk

Welcome to Anal 101! This lesson is being taught classroom-style, since anal is something many of us were not taught about in our (mediocre) sex education classes in school.

When I and other sex educators say anal, we mean any sexual activity focusing on the butt and/or anus. That can include anal penetration, rimming, spanking, and more! Perhaps you have engaged in some form of anal play before, perhaps not. Anal is very culturally taboo, and because of that, most of us never learn what safe anal play looks like. So, when we are inevitably curious about exploring the backdoor, folks tend to perform anal in dangerous ways. I’m here to tell you that anal can be pleasurable and fun when practiced in the right ways. In this article, I will go over the key tenants of anal play. All of these things are important to remember whenever engaging in any form of anal.

Lube lube lube

The anus does not self-lubricate. So use plenty of lube! Thick, water-based lubes are perfect because they are toy and condom-safe. If you’re not using a silicone toy, though, anal lovers swear by silicone lube.

Don’t cross-contaminate

Don’t spread bacteria from the anus to other body parts. If you want to move on from butt stuff, wash your hands with hot water, switch the condom out, boil/sanitize the toy, etc. Hygiene and safety come first!

Only use toys that are anal safe

The anus is like a vacuum. It will suck up whatever’s inside of it if it can. There are far too many ER horror stories about things getting stuck in people’s anuses. Use toys that have a flared base. If you’re unsure whether a toy fits that criteria, check whether it’s marketed as anal safe. (Hint: check out Sedure’s “anal toys” section)


Just as with any sex, it is important to communicate with your partner(s) as you engage in anal play. Create a check-in system to make sure you’re practicing anal in a way that feels good for all involved. I enjoy the red, yellow, and green stoplight system. Communication is a large part of consent!

Don’t skip the warmup

Anal play can take a lot of warming up. Don’t skip this. Allow your body to tell you when it’s ready. Massage, spanking, and rimming are all ways to warm up the anus for penetration. Take your time, and only do what you’re comfortable with.

No numbing products

Numbing products might seem cool, but they are actually dangerous for this type of play. If anal hurts, don’t do it. Numbing products make you numb, which means they can keep you from knowing if something bad like tissue tearing is happening.

Have wipes/towels ready

Yes, there might be a bit of residue from penetrative anal. That comes with the territory! No need to fear, you’re safe and human. Just have some clean up gear (and nonjudgement) ready.

“Anal play” is not just penetrative

Anal play doesn’t just mean partnered penetration. For me, anal play includes massage, spanking, rimming, and more, whether partnered or not. Get the narrative of anal=penetration out of your head!

Anal is for every body

Anal can feel good for every body. It is not reserved for people of any one sexuality or gender. Although not everyone has a prostate, which is the widely known pleasure spot in the anus, everyone has nerves in and around their anus! Experiment with what feels good for your body, specifically.

There you have it, all the basics of anal! Congratulations on making it through. I hope you take this information to heart, and consider it the next time you find yourself wanting to do anal.

Photo credit: Laker from Pexels

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