Mastering the art of pleasurable anal play is certainly not something many of us are taught over the course of our lives. Unfortunately, like many aspects of sex that deviate ever so slightly from “the norm”, for many people, anal play can bring with it all sorts of taboo, stigma and shame. Whether it’s stories about anal play being “dirty” or perhaps your own internalised homophobia rearing its head, the stories, conditioning and misinformation present in relation to anal play can make it feel really daunting or “wrong” for whatever reason.

In addition to this, I’m sure there are many people who have dabbled in anal play before and can relate when I say that when done too quickly or without a refined technique (particularly if you are on the receiving end), anal play can be seriously uncomfortable and even quite painful. 

These aforementioned pieces and unpleasurable experiences are often enough to put people off experimenting with anal play all together. However, for many male and female bodied people, our anuses are a hugely erogenous (pleasurable) zone, filled with lots of sensitive nerve endings, the location of prostate (for male bodied people)  and the potential to lead us into deep states of pleasure and orgasm when stimulated in the right way.

So let’s talk tips and tricks to exploring and refining our anal play experiences: 

Start by exploring solo and slowly

If you’re new to anal play, or testing the waters again after an unpleasurable experience, I suggest beginning your exploration solo during self pleasure. Unlike many of the unrealistic representations of anal play and anal sex that are present in mainstream pornography, any sort of anal penetration usually requires some serious time leading up to it. So take your time to stimulate your whole body, turn yourself on and when you get to exploring anal play, I suggest initially starting small. You may like to incorporate gentle touching, pressing and massaging the anus and the area around the anus. Once comfortable with this, you may wish to progress to penetration with either a fingertip or a toy, such as the Pleasure Plug by Elsker Elsker. The shape of this kind of toy is perfect for beginners to slowly ease their way into anal penetration.


In both my personal and professional opinion, lubrication is going to be your best friend when it comes to anal play. Unlike the vagina, the anus is not self lubricating so it’s really important to use a great quality lubricant. I personally prefer a water based lubricant for anal play as it absorbs easily into the anus, however, oil based lubricants can be used too, such as an organic sweet almond oil or organic coconut oil. The wetter the better when it comes to anal play so you have as much slip and slide as possible. (Keep in mind that oil based lubricants are not condom compatible).

Create Safety 

In mine and many other people’s experience, anal sex requires a deep opening, not just of the anus, but also of the energetic body, the mind and the heart. Whether you are exploring solo or partnered, ensuring to create a really safe and intimate space enables this opening. If exploring solo, ensure that you have the adequate privacy that you require to feel safe and open. If exploring with another, it is essential to create a safe container so you can relax and enjoy the experience. One of the most effective ways to do this is to have a conversation prior to the experience where you can express your needs, desires and boundaries surrounding anal play. It’s also essential that everyone involved feels comfortable communicating throughout the experience, especially if you are new to exploring anal play together. Open communication allows us to get out of our heads and into our bodies so we can have a present, relaxed and embodied experience as we know we’re not in for any unwanted surprises along the way.

Also, don’t forget to check in or express yourself throughout the experience too, for example:

  • “How is that feeling?”
  • “Do you like it when I ____”
  • “Is it okay if I ___”
  • “I would love to ____, are you comfortable with that?”
  • “Can you slow down”


The way I like to think of the anus is that it actually has two gates that need to be relaxed enough to pass through when exploring anal penetration. These are the external and internal sphincters. It’s really important that we feel super relaxed so these muscles can in turn relax too. Personally, one of my favorite things to do when indulging in anal play is requesting a full body massage during outercourse which allows me to really melt into my body and in turn allows all of my muscles and the gateways to the anus to relax. 

One of the other most important tools we have access to when it comes to relaxing and softening into anal play is our breath. Oftentimes people (during all types of sex), forget to breathe and in doing so, accidentally hold tension in their body. When it comes to anal sex, this can be especially true if we have had not so great experiences in the past and we are anticipating pain or something unpleasant. When we consciously connect to our breath, we can soften our body and come into deeper connection and presence with sensation and pleasure. To help your whole body relax, I suggest inhaling deeply through the nose and exhaling audibly via the mouth, staying with your breath throughout the whole experience. 


Good hygiene is essential in all of our sexual experience, however, there is of course the greater need for good hygiene practices when we start to explore anal play. Given the nature of this kind of sexual experience, there can be more bacteria and of course the presence of poo!

One of the big things to note when exploring anal play is that it’s important to not go from vaginal penetration to anal penetration and then back to vaginal penetration without washing the finger/toy/penis beforehand as this can transfer bacteria from the anus to the vulva and vagina and cause all sort of uncomfortable conditions such as urinary tract infections. If you are choosing to use condoms, the same goes, no double dipping! Having a shower or washing the anus and surrounding area well is also a good idea, heck, you may like to try anal play in the shower! 

The good old, “but what if there’s poo!?” conundrum

Given the nature of anal play, the way I see it is that there is always the potential for there to be the presence of poo. It comes with the territory and there is actually nothing embarrassing about it once we start to normalise it. Ways to mitigate this, is of course to not explore anal play if you need to go to the toilet or directly afterwards and if there is some, know that it doesn’t mean anything about you other than you’re a human!

With a little practice, anal play when done right can be super pleasurable. As a sex coach, I speak to a lot of people who are under the impression that our sexual knowledge and abilities should be this innate thing, when truthfully, sex of all kinds and refining our sexual experiences is something that takes practice, patience and time.

Having deeply pleasurable sexual experiences is actually a totally learnable skill and this absolutely goes for anal play, it's something that, if we’re curious about, is a skill that can be gently practiced, refined and incorporated in our sex lives, if we so desire. 

Written by Ruby Josif

Image by Kim Shin Akrich

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