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Anal Play

Backdoor sex. Anal. Rimming. No matter what you call it, anal play is healthy and normal. It’s a good way to share pleasure and avoid pregnancy, but not everyone is into it.

What is anal play?

  • Anal play is any kind of sexual activity that involves your butt. This can include:
  • Putting fingers around/inside someone’s butt
  • Putting a tongue around/inside someone’s butt (rimming)
  • Putting a penis* inside someone’s butt
  • Putting a dildo or other sex toy inside someone’s butt
  • Putting a hand inside someone’s butt (fisting)

Who is anal play for?

  • Anyone can give, receive and enjoy anal play.
  • Anyone of any gender or sexual orientation can enjoy anal play, on their own or with a partner, as long as it is done safely and with everyone’s consent.

Is anal play normal?

  • Yes, it is healthy and normal.
  • Many of us are taught that anal play is wrong and that your anus wasn’t designed for sexual purposes. Yet there are thousands of sensitive nerve endings in and around your butt that can give pleasure.
  • Anal play does NOT cause conditions like constipation, diarrhea or hemorrhoids but if you already have these health problems, you may want to avoid it until your butt is feeling better.

Does anal play hurt?

  • Anal play should not hurt if you take it slow, are using lots of lube and have a sexual partner you can talk to.

Is anal play messy?

  • Anal play doesn’t have to be messy. Some people like to have a bath or shower before to clean the anal area, but this is not necessary.
  • Some people prefer to put down a towel or plastic sheet before play starts and/or have wipes nearby just in case.

How can I make the most of anal play?

  • Start on the outside: relax the area by touching near and around the outside of the anus with toys or fingers for at least 15 minutes before going inside the butt.
  • If and when you are ready to try something inside, start with small toys or body parts until you and your partner feel ready moving on to something bigger.
  • Take your time. Relax, breathe and be patient. If you are short on time or feeling stressed out, you may want to save anal play for another time.
  • Your anus doesn’t naturally get wet, so have lots of water based lubricants on hand (oil-based lubricants can break down latex condoms and silicone-based lubricants don’t work well with silicone toys). Use lots of lube and re-apply often.
  • Some people like to use sex toys for anal play. Make sure anything you put in your butt or someone else’s is: smooth, unbreakable, flexible, clean, comfortable in size and has a flared base so that it can be gripped and removed easily. Putting condoms on toys can help keep them clean.

Can pregnancy happen from anal play?

  • It is highly unlikely but not impossible. Pregnancy can only occur if sperm is ejaculated in or near the vagina.
  • For more on how pregnancy happens and how to prevent it, check out How Pregnancy Happens.

Will anal play expose me to STIs?

  • Yes, you could be exposed to STIs during anal sex.
  • Protect yourself by using condoms on sex toys and penises, gloves on hands and dental dams (or condoms cut up one side) for oral sex.
  • If you have an outbreak of herpes or warts around the anus, you may want to avoid anal play until the outbreaks have healed and/or been treated. This will reduce the risk of passing an STI on and make anal play more comfortable.
  • For more information on STIs and how to protect yourself check out the section on STIs.
Useful Tips
Talk with your partner before anal play and find out what you are each looking for.
Before,during, and after anal play, talk to your partner about what feels good and what doesn’t.
Don’t ever put a toy or body part into anyone’s vagina that has been used in anyone’s butt without washing or putting a new condom on it first. Moving bacteria from the butt into the vagina can cause an infection.

For a downloadable resource on this topic, please visit Planned Parenthood Toronto Factsheet Database.

If you have questions about this topic, feel free to contact one of our peer educators. [Link]

*We know that these aren’t the words everyone uses for their bodies (eg. trans folks), and support you using the language that feels best for you.

Last Edited: May 2020