Maybe you've always wanted to try it but feel nervous about taking the plunge. Or maybe anal is already part of your sex routine and you're looking for tips to make it even hotter. Or maybe you're just curious to know what backdoor sex is really like. Whether you're an anal virgin or a die-hard fan, you'll want to keep reading: We talked to sex experts Jessica O'Reilly, Ph.D., author of Hot Sex Tips, Tricks and Licks, and Jane Greer, Ph.D., a New York-based marriage and sex therapist and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship, to get answers to all of your butt sex-related question
"The biggest misconception about anal sex is that it's disgusting, dirty, messy, or that it hurts," says Greer. Yes, she says that for some people, some of those things may be true. "But everyone should know anal sex can be an extremely erotic, exciting activity," she says. "If you're willing to try it, you might find it an unexpectedly fun addition to your sexual repertoire."
But No Really—Does It Hurt? Research suggests that pain is common, especially in the beginning. However, it definitely doesn't have to hurt—and there are ways to make it pleasurable, not painful. "With adequate relaxation and arousal, it should feel good for both parties," says O'Reilly. "If you find insertion painful or difficult, stop and go back to the drawing board. Get yourself all riled up and excited in your usual reliable manner, and then return to anal play."
How Do I Get Started? "The most important thing is feeling comfortable—you can even wash beforehand if that will help," says Greer. Then, she says, it's all about starting slowly. "You can begin with inserting a finger first and using lube to get comfortable with the pressure in your rectum," she says. "Pay attention to other erotic zones—breasts, neck, etc.—to get excited at the same time as you're being stimulated anally."
O'Reilly suggests dipping your toe into the water before you dive all the way in: "Wait until you’re very close to orgasm before introducing new sex acts—like anal penetration—into your routine," she says. "When you're aroused, the hormonal changes in your body have a palliative effect and help you to relax and experience pleasure more profoundly."
Is Penetration Absolutely Necessary? Nope—you can enjoy butt play even if you're not ready to go all the way just yet. Before you go the penetration route, O'Reilly recommends playing with your "pucker" (a.k.a. your butt hole). She says to, "press, fondle, stroke, and swirl your way around to become more comfortable with pleasurable sensations in the region."
Try Solo Play First "Your two sphincter muscles are not only essential to anal health but also to pleasure," says O'Reilly. "These ring-like structures control what goes in and out of your butt, so you need to become familiar with their functioning and learn to exercise control over them. When you’re in the shower or touching yourself, try sliding a lubed-up finger inside as gently and slowly as possible, and allow your sphincter muscles to contract and release." This will make you more comfortable—and help you discover what feels best back there.
Breathe Deeply "Holding your breath interferes with muscle relaxation, which is essential to anal sex," says O'Reilly. "As you breathe deeply, your inner sphincter muscle will relax to facilitate penetration." You may feel like you're in a Lamaze class, but practice your breathing while you're doing the DIY route—so you have a good breathing pattern going when you introduce your partner.
Use Lube "Most people prefer silicone-based lube for anal sex," says O'Reilly. But no matter what type of slippery stuff you choose, you'll probably want to use something to make anal more pleasurable: "Lube is a non-negotiable when it comes to anal play," says O'Reilly.
Try Oral "If you've been doing it for a while and want to make it even better, see if oral sex anally is an exciting way for you to get aroused before penetration," says Greer. "If it starts to feel uncomfortable, stop until your muscles are relaxed enough to move forward."
Double Your Pleasure "If you have a vagina and a clit, use them," says O'Reilly. She suggests inserting a toy into your vagina during anal in order to "press against the cul-de-sac from both sides." By "cul-de-sac," she means the little space along the lower/back wall of your vagina, between the cervix and the vaginal wall. "Some women attribute orgasm from anal sex to this hot spot," she says.
Try the "Lap Dance" Position O'Reilly explains what this means exactly: "The penetrative partner sits on a chair, and their partner stands over them as though they're giving a lap dance. This not only provides a sexy view, but it also allows the standing partner to exercise total control."
Incorporate Some Toys If you really want to amp up the sensation, O'Reilly suggests playing with a sex accessory, like a vibrating penis ring.
No Matter What...Always Be Safe "The anus is sensitive and prone to tearing and infection," says O'Reilly. "Be sure to practice safer sex with lube and condoms." It's also important not to cross-contaminate: "You never want to put an object in your bum and then back into your vagina," she says.
One Last Thing... "If you’re not into anal sex, that's okay too," says O'Reilly. "You don't have to create a sexual bucket list and cross off every item in order to enjoy fulfilling sex life—you simply need to keep an open mind. If you're not into it today, you may want to revisit the possibility in a few months, as your erotic script, arousal pathways, and interpretations of pleasure are constantly changing."