One More Story About Anal Sex

That is a title I never imagined writing

Photo by Kristina Bratko on Unsplash

Shannon Ashley recently wrote an excellent article about hard limits in the bedroom (and any other room). Her hard limit, and mine, is anal sex.

I can hear all the groans out there from those who write about this activity as if you are the first ones to discover it. Joe Duncan has written in-depth about the history of the practice, and it’s been around since way before any of you accidentally touched your anus, or someone else’s and went, “Whoa. What have we here? This feels interesting.” Which is probably how any and all sexual sensations were discovered historically. People just naturally play with what they are given. And a lot of that feels good.

I’m not denying that anal sex can feel good. I just have some observations and my own reservations to share, along with the observation of a biology professor.

My friend, who is gay, vividly remembers when his biology professor said, “The anus is designed for things to come out from, not for things to go into.” That cannot be argued. It’s a simple biological observation. Even when you talk about the voluntary and involuntary muscles there, and how you can relax progressively to accommodate any number of household items, or a penis, the point is that allowing something to enter anally requires going against the design. Since it can then feel good, I certainly understand the willingness to put in the work required. However, as my mother would say, “I have a hole designed for that.”

Indeed, while the vagina and cervix can also let things out, ie. babies, it is designed perfectly to let, allow, or even help things enter. And please do not argue that the vagina gets looser with use. It does not. Older women, indeed, can feel as tight as ever with kegel exercises, hormones, and/or hyaluronic acid (that’s the same stuff used to puff up your face to look younger. So many benefits, so little time.) The vagina can feel as tight as the anus, and the mouth is even more flexible.

So, if we eliminate tightness as the driving need for anal sex, what is left?

Even though I am a therapist, I’m not going to get into all the psychological theory here. I could, but then this would become a boring treatise. Of course, the taboo is part of the allure. That’s enough psychology to deal with for the purposes of this article. Things that are nasty, dirty and taboo can rev up sexual response, and those things are hard to come by (I totally did that on purpose) in these enlightened times. Anal sex for couples can fit that bill.

However, it should be totally consensual every time. Duh. Also very important is safety. Most articles I’ve read about anal sex emphasizes plenty of lubrication and taking it slowly. This is because of the aforementioned design that is meant for things to exit, not enter. Also, the tissues of the anus are thinner and more prone to injuries and tears, which can be invaded by the bacteria in feces. Infections and abcesses can be the result. Not very sexy.

What none of the articles about anal sex has said is that, for a any couple, it is imperative that the penetrating partner not switch from vagina to anus and back to vagina. Some very scary infections can be caused by doing this, both vaginal and urethral. Urethral infections can lead to bladder and even kidney infections. If you simply have to shift back and forth, use a new condom for each entrance. And use a water based lubricant on that condom. Her vagina and anus will thank you.

There is no consensus in the literature on whether anal sex causes hemorrhoids, but it should be obvious that it can aggravate them. Those of us who have carried and given birth to large babies often develop hemorrhoids. When those are swollen, itching, hurting or bleeding, I assure you the person with them is not going to roll over to allow you to stick something in there that can only make them hurt worse and bleed more.

For me, the risks of infection and discomfort are too great. Plus, I enjoy vaginal penetrative sex so much, I see no need to expand my repertoire. And, to ward off all the proselytizers, I have tried it. More than once. With three different men who had various approaches and styles. From the first time at age eighteen, to the last time in my late forties. I’m also well aware of the bundles of nerves that run through the perineum, and the contractions of the anus that can accompany clitoral orgasms. It is an interesting sensation, but simply cannot match for me the unabashed abandon of penetrative vaginal sex, with no worries of fecal matter, tears in a sensitive area, or aggravated hemorrhoids.

In a competition, my vagina wins. Every time.

Psychotherapist, Hypnotherapist. Leans Left. Mindfulness practitioner before it was cool. LPC, M.Ed.

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