July 7, 2011

Q&A: Do Women And Men Received Pleasure From Anal Penetration?

In our recent survey, we found that 45% of women in some age groups had received anal sex, but that doesn’t mean they all received pleasure from it.

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Question: What percentage of women receive physical pleasure from anal penetration? What percentage of men receive physical pleasure from anal sex?

I wish I knew the answer to either of these, but science has yet to nail down exact figures on either of these topics.

Times, They Are A’Changing

Back when Dr. Kinsey and his research team interviewed Americans about their sexual lives from the 1930s to the 1950s, anal sex was rarely reported.

Things have changed, however. In our recent National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB) in which we surveyed men and women ages 14 to 94 about their sexual behavior, we found that as many as 40 to 45 percent of women in some age groups had received anal sex but that doesn’t mean that they all received physical pleasure from it.

In fact, most women have never had anal sex. Of those who have, most don’t do it all that regularly. Among women who partner with men, most have vaginal intercourse and oral sex far more often than they ever have anal sex.

As for men, we know even less about men and receptive anal sex. In our NSSHB study, we found that receptive anal sex (meaning, having a penis penetrate one’s anus) was quite rare among men in the U.S. Only a few percent of men reported having received penile-anal sex in the past month. However, more men – as many as around 10% in some age groups – reported ever having tried it.

The Many Faces Of Anal Play

Of course, far more men and women probably try different types of anal play than were asked about in our survey or other scientists’ surveys.

For example, one can engage in anal fingering or rimming (oral-anal play). Some people use strap-ons to penetrate their male partner anally. And others use sex toys, such as dildos or butt plugs or anal beads that are toys but don’t quite qualify as strap-on kinds of toys.

And any time that something is being used for anal penetration, whether that “something” is a finger, penis, or sex toy, the use of water-based lubricant can make a world of difference in terms of comfort and sexual pleasure.

Communicating about sex and what feels good or doesn’t feel good matters, too. And so does feeling confident about safer sex, such as using condoms, dental dams or latex gloves during anal play (depending on what exactly one is doing down there).

How Do I Learn More?

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a great deal of helpful information about anal sex and anal play even though an increasing number of American women and men engage in it.

In part, this is because many mainstream sex educators have shied away from the topic which is a shame because people often find that having good information about sex helps them to have sex that is safer and that feels good to them.

Recently, I published an e-book about anal pleasuring so that more people can read about sex in the privacy of their smart phone, iPad, Kindle or whatever other device they read their books on. It’s called The Good in Bed Guide to Anal Pleasuring and I hope it helps many readers, like you, learn about anal sex and its potential for pleasure, as well as the necessity for safety.

Next Question: Sexual Fantasy About Group Masturbation

I have this fantasy to be part of a coed masturbation group. Sometimes I feel like this is a weird fantasy but then I think that masturbation is a safe healthy form of sexual expression, so maybe other adults would be interested in forming such a group. Does such a thing exist or have you ever heard of anything like this?

Read Dr. Debby Herbenick’s response.

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