Why does anal sex hurt? Can I use a numbing cream during anal play? We asked certified sex educators to answer all your questions on how to make anal sex less painful.
While anal play can be a lot of fun, it’s not always comfortable. Unfortunately, there’s an urban legend that anal sex is supposed to hurt or that somehow, it magically shifts from ouch to awesome. But if it ever does feel uncomfortable, there are better ways to deal with that than just hoping it’ll change.
Pleasurable anal sex is 90% preparation, and that includes getting mentally prepared. That’s even truer if you’ve had uncomfortable or painful experiences in the past because your body will expect the same thing again, which makes the anus tighten up. A little preparation will help a lot.
New to anal play? Below are the 5 golden rules on getting started with butt stuff:
Communication: How to talk about anal with your partner.
Preparation: How to get ready for anal play, step by step.
One of the common misconceptions is that anal sex will hurt, weaken or damage the anal muscles. The grain of truth in that story is that it’s possible to hurt yourself and cause permanent injury if you aren’t paying attention to what you’re doing or if you’re forcing your body (or your partner’s body) to do something that doesn't feel good.
It’s like bending over to touch your toes. If you never stretch or do yoga, you won’t be as flexible and forcing it can cause damage or muscle tears. But if you know how to listen to your body and only go as far as it can go, you’ll get more flexible over time without hurting yourself. People have enjoyed anal sex for many years without ever causing damage. The way they do that is by never going further than what feels good.
Even if you have anal sex regularly, you might have days where it just doesn’t work. That’s totally ok. You can do something else on those occasions and have anal sex another time. Listen to your body and let it tell you what it’s capable of today. That’s the best way to protect yourself.
There are a few different reasons why anal sex might not feel good. One of the most common ones is a stingy or friction sensation. That’s because there isn’t enough lubricant, so you’ll want to add a little more. Don’t tolerate or endure the discomfort because all that does it make your body tighten up more. Adding more lube will make it feel much better, so don't hesitate. That’s especially important if there’s a lot of in and out motion.
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There’s a different kind of sensation when the anal muscles aren’t relaxed enough. It’s less of a stingy, surface-level sensation and more of a deeper, muscular feeling. It might be difficult to tell them apart if you’re new to anal play, but if adding more lubricant isn’t doing the trick, it might be because the muscles aren’t warmed up yet. Back off and go with something smaller, like one less finger or a smaller toy. Don’t force it. Even if that means that you don't get to do everything you want to do this time, it’ll pay off next time because you’re not training your body to expect pain.
While it might seem like a good idea to use a numbing cream to reduce the discomfort from anal sex, it can actually increase the odds of hurting yourself. Most products use benzocaine, which is similar to novocain. If you’ve ever been to the dentist and later bit the inside of your cheek without realizing it because you were still numb, you know how you can cause damage without realizing it.
The same thing can happen with numbing creams. They make it easy to keep going even when the lube has run dry or your body tightens up, so it's a lot more likely that you’ll hurt yourself. At b-Vibe, we want you to feel amazing, so we don't recommend numbing creams. You’ll be better off learning other ways to make anal sex fun.
When you’re done with your anal play, you might want to head to the bathroom. It’s fine to clean up externally, whether with a warm washcloth or a hypoallergenic wipe. But resist the urge to sit on the toilet and squeeze the lube out. You’ve just worked those muscles and it’s good to give them a chance to recover before you ask them to work again. Cuddle up on the bed and enjoy the afterglow. Give your body 10-15 minutes to rest before you sit on the toilet and you’ll recover a lot more quickly.
Sometimes, everything feels great in the moment but you feel some discomfort afterward. There might even be a little bit of blood on the toilet paper. If it’s just a tiny spot and it goes away after 5 minutes or so, it’s probably because there was a little too much friction and you didn’t notice in the heat of the moment. Be sure to use more lubricant next time.
Whether there’s any blood or not, you might have a stingy sensation. You can soothe that with a little bit of coconut or a cocoa butter salve. It’s a lot like putting lip balm on, but at the other end. Don't use products with scents or dyes on the anus since they can cause more irritation.
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If there’s more than a tiny bit of blood on the toilet paper or if it doesn’t stop within 5 minutes, that might mean that you need to get checked out by a doctor. It doesn’t happen often (especially if you’re following our tips), but it can be a serious situation. Don’t delay, and be honest with the doctor. They’ve seen it before and telling them what happened will make it easier for them to give you the care you need.
If you’ve been using enough lubricant, giving yourself or your partner plenty of warm-up, and addressing any discomfort right away, it’s really not likely that anal play will cause problems. All it takes is a little preparation and attention, but when you do so you and your partner can have an amazing time.