Q&A: Anal Sex: Cleanliness And Avoiding Pain

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QUESTION: I’m planning to have anal sex with my boyfriend in a few weeks and I was wondering what I can do to make sure that there will not be a mess. I am really nervous about it because I feel like it will be an embarrassing situation and I want to make sure that I will be fully clean.

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cartoon of a woman administering an enema to a man

Photo: psd (flickr)

Often, people find that it is enough to take a shower before having anal sex or to gently dab their anal area with a soft, wet cloth, but others feel more comfortable using an enema.

Although many women and men engage in anal sex, it is still considered a taboo topic in many social circles. As a result, people rarely talk to each other about anal sex, which can leave many people feeling confused or uncertain about how to try this particular sexual behavior about which they may feel curious.

Because anal sex involves the rectum, some people – like you – have concerns about cleanliness. You may want to take your time to ease into anal play so that you can become more comfortable sharing this part of your body with your boyfriend and making sure that you both feel comfortable with what you are doing.

Many couples, for example, experiment with using their fingers for anal play before ever trying anal sex, involving a man’s penis. By starting with finger penetration, you can take the time to become comfortable not only with the feelings and sensations related to anal penetration, but you can also explore issues related to cleanliness.


Often, people find that it is enough to take a shower before having anal sex or to gently dab their anal area with a soft, wet cloth.

Other people feel more comfortable using an enema before they have anal sex. This involves inserting fluids into the anus in order to expel feces from the body. Enemas can often be purchased from local drug stores or on the internet.

If you decide to experiment with anal fingering first, consider putting a lubricated condom on over your own or your partner’s finger before inserting it into your or his anus. Many people find that it is more comfortable if they add additional water-based or silicone-based lubricant to their condom covered finger.

As you become more comfortable with anal fingering, you may feel more comfortable trying anal play using sex toys or anal sex involving your partner’s penis.

Learning More

It’s important to know that anal sex should not be painful. If it is painful, you should stop. You can also try it again later that day, on another day or not at all depending on your interests and those of your partner.

To learn more about safer, pleasurable anal play, check out Because It Feels Good: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.

Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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