If you’re the kind of person who, upon hearing the words “anal” and “sex” strung together–you know, in the school hallway, at a restaurant, at badminton practice, etc.–you immediately start to turn red and clammy and look for the nearest exit, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Anal sex is something that, if it is brought up in casual conversation, tends to be brought up for shock value alone, and is usually left there.
Because anal sex isn’t really talked about in, like, a constructive sense, it stands to reason that there are some pretty pervasive misconceptions about the act. But this doesn’t have to be the case–anal sex is perfectly normal, first of all. It just has to be done safely (i.e. with protection) and with consent (two people who have said “yes” to anal sex without the influence of drugs and/or alcohol). Also, being curious about anal sex doesn’t mean that you have to do it. You can, of course, under the previously described guidelines, but finding out information about something is not the same as signing a contract to go ahead and do it. Like, maybe your friend mentioned anal, for whatever reason, but you want to learn more about it. Maybe you heard it mentioned in Ali Wong’s excellent Netflix comedy special. Or maybe you are just a curious student of the world who is determined to get down to the bottom of all truths, and the truth today just so happens to be anal sex. Whatever the case may be, you should probably start by tackling your own misconceptions. So, check out these common myths about anal sex that you probably believe:
If You Like Anal Sex, You're A SlutPlease. I don't really know how this rumor got started (though "the firm grip of the patriarchy" is as good a guess as any), but, uh, this obviously isn't true. Anal sex does not make you a slut. You shouldn't even have to argue this, given that the term "slut" is reductive, at best, but liking a certain sex act does not actually impact who you are as a person. Okay? Okay. Image source: iStock
Anal = Poop ExplosionThere's a popular anal sex myth that basically says that any time anyone attempts anal sex, they'll automatically expel all the contents of their bowels upon their (soon-to-be-ex, in keeping with the scare tactics of this type of lore) partner. But, like, think about it--if this were always the case, would anyone have anal sex, like, ever? Probably not. Now, as with any good myth, this one does have a tiny kernel of truth to it. Pooping can happen, but it relies on certain circumstances, and, subsequently, is rare. As long as you aren't intoxicated or have a gastrointestinal illness or food poisoning, you should be okay. Image source: iStock
Anal Sex Will Destroy Your Backside ForeverAnother common anal myth is that anal sex leaves one's butt a hollow, distended hole that can never be used for anything other than anal again. This, uh, is not the case (just like a similarly pernicious rumor that too much vaginal sex can stretch out the vagina beyond repair). Your anus is a muscle, so it will be able to return to its previous state after intercourse. Image source: iStock
You Don't Need To Use Condoms When You Have Anal SexUh. No. While it's true that your chance of getting pregnant from anal sex is much lower than they are when you have vaginal sex, there's still a small chance it could happen if semen slips from the anus and gets into the vagina (they are, like, literally right next to each other, after all). Plus, STIs can definitely be transmitted through anal. This is because the skin in the anus is delicate and prone to making tiny tears that you might not notice, but creates more entry points for STIS. So, use condoms just as you would for any other kind of sex. Image source: iStock
It Will Always HurtA lot of people talk about anal as something that will always, always cause pain to the person who's being penetrated. But this, according to Cosmo, is just because anal is so often done incorrectly. For a pain-free experience, make sure you move slowly, pause any time you do feel pain rather than trying to stick it in all at once, and start with smaller instruments like fingers and toys. And, of course, use lots of lube. A real lube, too--stay away from things like baby oil and Vaseline, which can break down latex in condoms. Instead, try a water-based lube or silicone lube that has "condom-safe" on the label. Image source: iStock
If Anal Hurts, Use Painkillers To Make It StopNow, just because anal doesn't have to hurt, this doesn't mean that you should do everything in your power to make, like, nothing hurt. Your body uses pain to tell you that something isn't right, so if you're intentionally muting these signals by taking painkillers or numbing creams. Instead, listen to your body and go with what you feel comfortable with naturally. Image source: iStock
Nobody Actually Likes ItThe idea of anal sex can be, uh, scary. Because of this, it's hard for some people to believe that people actually like anal, and it's not just something that one must endure. But a lot of people do really like it, since it's right by other parts you're probably just fine with using during sex and contains a bunch of delicate nerve endings that can enhance one's overall sexual experience. That being said, you shouldn't feel like there's something wrong with you if you try having anal sex and discover it's not really your thing (or you just plain hate it). Everyone's body is different, so while some people might find it great, other people don't. And that's cool. Image source: iStock
Once You Have Anal, You Have To Keep Doing ItThis should go without being said, but I'll say it anyway: Just as with any other kind of sex act, the simple fact of doing anal one time does not mean that you are contractually obliged to do it again. Your body is your own, not your partner's. Even if you liked it, it's up to you when--and if--it's going to happen again. If that's tomorrow, great. If that's a year from now, great. If that's never again, that's also great. The point is, nobody gets to dictate what goes on with your body except for you. If you meet someone that tries to change that, show them the door. (The, uh, front door. Not the backdoor.) Image source: iStock
Did you believe any of these anal sex myths? Do you have any other questions? Let us know in the comments!