The Beginner's Guide To Butt Play, According To A Sexologist

While butt play used to be a taboo subject to mention at brunch, things have since come a long way when the subject of anal comes up. And that's how it should be. Anal stimulation is just another way to experience pleasure and just because the butt is involved, it shouldn't take away from the conversation. While the anus may not have as many nerve endings as the clitoris (which has around 10,000), it's still an erogenous zones which means it's very high in nerve ending concentration, per Baillière's Clinical Gastroenterology. In other words, it's a place worth exploring either solo or with a partner.

But jumping into anal exploration can feel daunting. Even when you strip away the taboo factor, concerns like pain, bodily fluids, noises, or just a general fear of the unknown can stand in the way of uninhibited enjoyment. However, despite all the unnecessary worrying, more people are having anal. According to a 2016 study published in AIDS and Behavior Journal, 30% of women and 35% of men had reported having heterosexual anal intercourse (HAI), while a 2022 research by Statista put that figure at 40%. And, yes, even people without prostates can thoroughly enjoy anal stimulation of some kind, per Plos One.

If you've been flirting with the idea of anal but aren't sure where to start, we've got you. In an exclusive chat with Women, sexologist Suzannah Weiss helped us understand that butt play isn't just the next frontier, but one that's pleasurable and shouldn't be feared.

Start small and slow

Anal stimulation feels different from other types of sexual sensations. Because of this, you want to take your time. Anal surfacing — where you just lightly rub the outside of the anus — is a good place to start. If you want something a bit more intense and internal, this is where your digits come in. "I would recommend first trying anal play by yourself. The easiest thing to start with is a finger," sexologist Suzannah Weiss exclusively told Women. "If it makes you more comfortable, you can put a condom around your finger or wear latex gloves. It will be much easier if you use lube; silicone lube is good because it's long-lasting." From here, just feel around and see what you like.

Because the rectum might naturally clench if anything gets near it, Weiss suggested getting your body in the mood first. "You can begin by arousing and relaxing yourself via clitoral stimulation," said Weiss. "Some people even prefer to have an orgasm first because that will loosen your pelvic muscles and make anal penetration easier."

When you think you're ready to feel the expansion that comes with butt plugs, then that's the next avenue in anal play. "I recommend b-Vibe's Novice Plug or Maude's Cone," said Weiss, adding that b-Vibe also has an anal training kit that allows for gradual increasing of butt plug sizes. It's all about experimenting with different sensations and realizing which you prefer most. Important fact: all butt plugs should have a flared base to prevent possible internal loss — while rare, it can happen.

What to know about lubes and partner play

When delving into anal play, lube is everything. Not only is lube essential in reducing pain and friction newbies, but it also helps prevent anal fissures and tears in the anus. If you're new to using lube, there are a few things to keep in mind here too. There are three lube options on the market: water-based, oil-based, and silicone-based. Water-based can be used with everything — like toys, and condoms — without having to worry about any type of degradation. Silicone lube can't be used with silicone toys, which your butt plug is probably made of (if it's not steel or glass), because it will degrade the silicone. Oil lube can be used with toys, but not with condoms because it will destroy the latex. Consider what will be involved in your butt play and choose a lube that will complement everything perfectly. Then use a lot of it.

If you're ready to combine your lube and toys with a partner, sexologist Suzannah Weiss shared some of her exclusive insight on that too. "When you are with a partner, you can start by having your partner finger you anally and/or wearing a butt plug while you are engaged in another sexual activity, like vaginal intercourse, fingering, or oral sex," said Weiss. "It's a good idea to get a sense of what you like in terms of anal stimulation before you engage in anal intercourse with a partner. That way, you can make sure you are doing it to please yourself, not just your partner." 

How to prepare

When the topic of butt stuff comes up, so do horror stories. There's always that person who heard about a friend of a friend who had a run-in with poop during anal play, right? Of course! We've heard these tales and there's always a layer of truth to them. But just because you have anal penetration, doesn't mean you're signing up for a bed full of poop. So how does one prepare for such a possibility?

"Anal douches and enemas are not necessary, but they may give some people peace of mind if they are concerned about cleanliness," sexologist Suzannah Weiss exclusively told Women. "I recommend a product specifically made to prepare people for anal sex, such as Future Method's anal douche solution." As Weiss explained, other than the choice to anal douche, the next big step in preparation comes back to lube and knowing which one is best for what you'll be doing. "Lots of people like Sliquid lube for anal play," said Weiss.

Before you try full-on anal intercourse, you want to revisit the technique of being aroused or having just had an orgasm, "because the more pleasure you feel, the less likely you are to feel pain," said Weiss. "Using a vibrator on yourself during anal sex can make it more pleasurable and comfortable," Weiss continued. "Go as slowly as possible; if someone is penetrating you with a penis or strap-on, ask them to move in just a tiny bit at a time and pause until you tell them to go in a little further, then a little further."

Talk about your concerns

Trying anything for the first time can bring up a lot of feelings and concerns — this is normal. When it's something that's been shrouded in taboo and a boatload of myths are attached to it, the feelings and concerns can be all-consuming. Instead of giving in to these thoughts, talk to your partner.

"Speaking that fear out loud can give it less power," sexologist Suzannah Weiss exclusively shared with Women. "Express your concerns to your partner beforehand, and they can put you at ease. Maybe you can even have a laugh about it." As Weiss pointed out, if just bringing up possible bodily fluids makes your partner uncomfortable, then maybe they're not ready for anal play. "If they want to have anal sex with you, then they should be in a place to accept everything that comes with, appreciate the vulnerability you are showing, and help you feel more comfortable and less embarrassed," said Weiss.

As much as sex is supposed to be fun and exciting, there's also space for it to be goofy and messy too. So, don't let the "what ifs" stress you. If you're interested in butt play and you're ready to put that curiosity into action, then go for it. Just don't forget the lube.