How to Prepare for Anal Sex

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How to Prepare for Anal Sex


Fact: anal play can definitely be a fun and exciting activity to add to your repertoire. It does, however, require some prep to help avoid some of the less-sexy aspects of anal sex and penetration. It’s worth it, though — the anal canal contains certain erogenous zones (hello, P-spot!) and nerve endings that can’t be triggered by other forms of sex. 

If you’re interested in exploring the sexual pleasures you or your partner’s booty has to offer, read on for our comprehensive guide on how to get clean, aroused, and slick before diving into anal sex.

Educate yourself

First off, there are things specific to anal sex that you may not be aware of. For example, the anal area doesn't self-lubricate. Because of this, anal sex comes a few with inherent risks, and can require a bit more finesse compared to vaginal sex.

If you're going to be an anal sex regular, it's good to know how everything works back there. Let’s get the obvious out of the way - if you're going to enjoy receptive anal penetration, note that fecal matter (poop) doesn't generally reside in the area of the anal canal that’s commonly penetrated during sex. If you’re worried about it, though, there are things you can do to eliminate some mess-stress. We’ll get to that later. 

There are great comprehensive educational resources available, such as articles and videos from Evan Goldstein of Bespoke Surgical. He has lots of great information and related articles on all the ins and outs of butt stuff, both from the perspective of an anal-sex-haver and from the perspective of a medical professional. His video on anal fissures is particularly informative.

If you are just starting out, and have more questions about anal sex for beginners or are wondering “is anal sex safe”, read our linked blogs!

Talk with your partner before anal sex

Receptive anal sex in particular is harsh in the realm of sexually transmitted infections — it’s the form of sex that has the highest chance of HIV infection. It’s important to know you and your partner’s sexual activity and sexual health history. Having unprotected anal sex is considered a high-risk activity, so if you choose to do, it’s important to understand all the risks you’re taking on together.

If you’re new to butt play, there are some more beginner-friendly anal sex positions to help you ease into things. 

Try anal alone first

Before getting a partner involved, it’s a good idea to get familiar with your own anus to understand the experiences being had by bottoms (the person on the receiving end of anal sex).

If you plan on being the bottom, getting in touch with your own booty is a great way to figure out your preferences. If you don't already know those things going in, you're going to be depending on your partner to establish those baselines, which can be more difficult in the moment.

If you're not comfortable with actual penetration, anal stimulation of the exterior sphincter can be extra pleasurable in its own right. Try exploring the sensitive skin on and around your anal sphincter, including the muscles just outside and just inside with a lubricated finger. You could also experiment with anal sex toys, like butt plugs, anal beads or anal vibrators.

The more you know about your own body, the easier it’s going to be for you to advocate for what your needs and sexual limits are. If you’re interested in learning more about how to have an anal orgasm, read our linked blog!

Use sex toys to prepare for anal sex

Anal sex toys are a great way to help you dive into the world of pleasurable anal play. Whether you're an anal aficionado or relatively new to the act, it's critical that you take time to prepare before having penetrative anal sex. Everything needs to be well-lubed, and your anal muscles need to be relaxed prior to any type of penetration. One of the best ways to do ease into things is to use butt plugs or anal beads in graduated sizes.

For example, if you plan on engaging in anal play later in the day, it can be a good idea to insert a butt plug and allow your body to relax into the sensation of having something up there. And once you become comfortable with the size of that butt plug, you can move up in size to something that might more closely resemble the size of what you plan upon being penetrated with.

Go slow

Listen, the muscles around the anus don't usually relax right away! Even if you’ve done all the prep work and are feeling relaxed, when you begin anal sex it's important to go slowly so your body can get used to the sensations. This is especially important during the first moment of penetration — getting past the exterior anal sphincter for the first time can feel abrupt, and waiting directly inside afterward allows the body to relax and will go a long way in making the experience enjoyable.

Once you’re well and fully aroused, the butt can take a fair amount of pounding if that's what you're into. 

Keepin’ it Hygenic: Anal sex and mess

Anal sex can be messy if it’s poorly timed (don’t do it right after or before a bowel movement). However, most of the time there’s not actually fecal matter in the lower chamber of the anal area. 

That said, there may be a small amount of residual fecal matter inside, so if you’re worried about it, you can use an anal douche beforehand, and/or have some towels at the ready. Taking a shower or having a relaxing bath beforehand is a good idea, too.

Having some body-safe cleaning wipes nearby is also helpful, and important if you’re wanting to have semi-spontaneous anal intercourse, or either of you are interested in any anal-oriented oral sex (aka analingus, or rimming). Bacteria reside in butts, and it’s best to not combine that bacteria with any other non-butt mucus membranes.


As a precaution before anal sex, it's a good idea to have extra towels on hand to catch any fluids that come out of your body of the receptive partner, or bottom. After sex, it's great to have them around in case you want to wipe up. It's always a good idea to take a shower and clean up post sex, and it's an especially good idea for the penetrative partner to clean whatever objects have been inside someone’s rectum.

It’s just a fact: butts, while fun to penetrate, naturally house bacteria, so be sure to get cleaned up directly after sex.

Think about using an enema or anal douche

You don't have to have anal sex like a pornstar, but preparing for anal sex like a pornstar is a worthy goal if you're really into it. Using an enema or anal douche before anal play will help wash away any fecal leftovers and can help you feel clean and confident. 

It’s important to note that fecal matter normally resides higher up in the anal canal, so you don’t actually need to clean more than 6-8 inches deep. It’s best to gently insert fluid so the washing happens closer to the opening of your anus rather than deep inside. 

Stock up on lube

Lube is the absolute most crucial element of anal sex (or anything butt-related), aside from consent, of course. Have lots on hand before getting started, Any good quality water or silicone based lubricant will work great for anal sex and butt play in general. That said, silicone based lubes usually last longer than their water-based counterparts, and can be more slippery in the long-term. The one caveat to using a silicone lube is that you can’t use it with silicone sex toys. 

Unless you’re anally experienced, please don’t use any type of numbing or desensitizing lube or gel. Your body's pain and discomfort responses are very important, especially while getting used to the sensation of anal sex. If anything you’re doing hurts, or hurts your partner, stop immediately. 

Most importantly, explore and have fun!


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Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Sunny Rodgers

This content was reviewed for accuracy and relevancy by Dr. Sunny Rodgers.

Dr. Sunny Rodgers is a clinician, author, and speaker who has worked in the wellness industry since 2000. She holds a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality, a Master of Arts in Clinical Sexology, and is an accredited Sexual Health Educator. She is the Founder of The Institute of Intimate Health, an Ambassador for the American Sexual Health Association, regular lecturer for the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Sexual Confidence Coach for the Marigold App, and a professional Sex Toy Concierge™. Rodgers hosted a popular weekly show on Playboy Radio, has been an expert guest on several TV and radio programs, and is a regular contributor to HuffPost, Men's Health, Cosmo, Bustle, and many more publications.