Fear of the unknown is often what stops exploration in its tracks. “Here be dragons” was a common phrase used on maps of yesteryear to indicate uncharted—and uncertain—waters. For many people, their uncharted territory is anal sex. 

However, more and more people are overcoming their hesitancy and are trying anal sex for themselves. If you’re interested in seeing what all the fuss is about for yourself, you could be about to enter a new gateway to pleasure. 

The big question on everyone’s mind is: What does anal sex feel like?

And like every other form of sex, it depends. There are a variety of factors at play, from your body, your experience level, and how recently you’ve last indulge in anal sex—or if you’ve ever done it at all. 

In some ways, it’s exactly like other forms of penetrative sex. It’s different in that the real estate in the anus is typically much smaller and much tighter. Likely, if you’re on the receiving end, things might feel a bit more crowded than usual. Unlike the vagina or mouth, the anus is a vacuum that wants to draw objects in. Anal sex is less about thrusting than it is about enjoying the sensation for the sensations sake. It’s not the place to be quick and rough. Anal sex is like a liquor meant to be sipped slowly and savored.

 

Images courtesy of Teen Vogue

But in terms of the overall anatomical structure, the entire anal area is full of nerves. For those who have one, the clitoris has deep roots that extend throughout the genitals and all the way to the anus. As the clitoris is key in achieving an orgasm for most women, the fact that it’s deep roots spread all the way to the anal ring should give you an idea that it’s got the potential to be a very pleasurable experience. 

Anal sex is also a great way to stimulate your a-spot. Healthline explains that the a-spot is short for the anterior fornix, a powerful erogenous organ located about five-to-six inches inside the vagina. The anterior fornix is the pleasure center responsible for causing the wet sensation during arousal, and can be stimulated from deep vaginal penetration or anal sex. 

Aside from indirect vaginal pleasure you might feel from anal sex, the anus itself is made up of specialized sensory nerve endings. Chief among these is the pudendal nerve, located in the perineum. This nerve also spreads to the labia and the clitoris. 

The anus can be “trained” to be accomodating to stretching and external stimulation, but it is not a malleable space the way a vagina is. If you’re looking to work your way up to anal play with a partner, we recommend trying out anal training kits like these ones from B-Vibe and They-ology from CalExotics.

   

It takes time to build up the muscle memory to accommodate anal sex. Anal training kits include wearable anal training probes meant to let you safely and comfortably increase pleasure with every use. PubMed reports that “Less than a third (27.7%) of participants who regularly engaged in anoreceptive intercourse in the past 12 months stated that they rarely or never experience pain/discomfort with the practice.”

If you’d like to get an idea what anal sex might feel like, we recommend trying out a butt plug. A butt plug is a toy of varying sizes meant to be inserted into the anus and then left for as long as you like. 

Women’s Health actually endorses personal prep work prior to anal sex as way to make the whole experience more pleasurable. Instead of starting your anal sex journey with penetration by your partner, begin by yourself with anal beads, fingers, or a butt plug. This will not only help to “train” the muscle to accept penetration, but it’s a great way to familiarize yourself with your body and your hard and soft limits. 

If you’re looking for a butt plug to try, the A-Play Rechargeable Silicone Anal Plug is a velvet-soft, flexibly vibrating butt plug. It comes with 10 different functions selected by a remote control. It’s a great toy for the uninitiated as well as the experienced. You can try out this easy to use butt plug and see how you’d feel about any kind of anal stimulation before getting a partner involved.

 

That is, if you want to get a partner involved. Anal pleasure can be achieved on your own with both the help of a butt plug as well as a dildo. 

Whatever you do, we recommend (read: insist on) lube. The stretching of the anal ring is something that should never be rushed. This small ring of muscle is one of the most delicate and important parts of the body so take care not to damage it. Also, the anus does not provide its own lubricant like the vagina or mouth, so it will need some help from you to be slick enough for comfortable and fun anal play. 

The Relax Desensitizing Anal Lubricant by Clean Stream is a great, condom-safe anal lubricant. In addition to providing much needed lubrication, it's also infused with lidocaine to gently numb the area it’s applied to. For people who are nervous or especially sensitive, this lube could cut down on uncomfortable sensations. 

However, you don’t want to be too numb during anal sex. Pain is an indicator that something's gone wrong and you don’t want to miss any warning signs that you might be damaging your body. Anal sex might be uncomfortable at first, but it should never been painful. If you feel like it’s hurting, feel free to stop at any time. You can always try again later if you’re feeling up to it. 

More so than vaginal or oral sex, anal sex is a learning curve. It can take some time and experimentation to find your GoldiLocks combination of factors that make anal an enjoyable experience. If you’re trying to engage in anal sex with a partner, always communicate to them what works and what doesn’t. Your partner can’t read your mind, so if something hurts or something feels great, let them know. It’s definitely a collaboration to find what feels just right

Anal sex is certainly not for everyone, but certainly anyone can try it. Who knows? It might just be your new favorite thing.