Women in the UK who are having anal sex with men are facing injuries and other health problems, two NHS surgeons have said.
While you can engage in anal sex with no issues if you follow some simple steps, some women are experiencing pain, bleeding and bodily trauma after trying it. Other consequences include sexually transmitted infections and incontinence, the doctors wrote in an article in the British Medical Journal.
Young women cite pleasure, curiosity, pleasing a male partner and coercion as factors for having anal sex, said Tabitha Gana and Lesley Hunt. Worryingly, up to 25% of women with experience of anal sex report they have been pressured into it at least once.
But the authors also noted that “within popular culture it has moved from the world of pornography to mainstream media”, adding that TV shows including Sex and the City and Fleabag may have contributed to the trend by making it seem “racy and daring”.
The journal added that women who have anal sex are at a greater risk from injuries than men.“Increased rates of faecal incontinence and anal sphincter injury have been reported in women who have anal intercourse,” the report found.
The report continued: ”“Women are at a higher risk of incontinence than men because of their different anatomy and the effects of hormones, pregnancy and childbirth on the pelvic floor.
“The pain and bleeding women report after anal sex is indicative of trauma, and risks may be increased if anal sex is coerced.”
Does this mean women shouldn’t engage in anal sex? Not really, but there should be knowledge around the subject before you think about taking part.
Pippa Murphy, the sex and relationship expert at condoms.uk has a step-by-step guide.
Use lube plenty and often
Whilst the vagina produces a natural lubricant, unfortunately, the rectum doesn’t so it’s incredibly important to use a lubricant to prevent friction or, in a worst-case scenario, tearing, she says.
“To begin with, you should get the penetrating partner to apply lots of lube into the anus and use the pad of their finger to gently massage the entrance,” she explains.
“However, lube should be applied thoroughly throughout anal sex too. Many people feel themselves drying up midway. Use this an opportunity to take a break and reapply the lube whilst checking in with each other that you’re both enjoying it.”
Make sure you’re using the right kind of lube
Whilst lube is vital, you can’t use just any lube – it must be anal-friendly. Fortunately, most lubricants will mention whether it’s anal-friendly on the packaging, however, the best are water-based lubricants.
“This is because it makes less than silicone lubricants, which become sticky once dry and can leave greasy stains on bed sheets,” Murphy explains.
“If you don’t, however, like the feeling of water-based lube, you can try a silicone-based lubricant, but you should place a towel down beforehand to prevent staining your sheets.”
Make sure you’re in a comfortable position for penetration
By now, you may feel comfortable enough for anal penetration. If so, set yourself up in a comfortable position – in the doggy or on your side – and make sure you are supported by pillows.
“The penetrating partner should then approach gently and allow the receiving partner to pick the pace,” says Murphy. “For example, it may be more comfortable for the receiving partner to back toward their partner instead of being thrust into.”
Never go from anal to vaginal sex in one session
“Any bacteria found in your stool can increase the risk of getting a UTI, bacterial vaginosis or yeast infection – so it’s incredibly important for your partner to wash his penis, finger and any toys placed in the anus, before being introduced to the vaginal canal again,” says Murphy.
If it hurts, stop
Like any sex act, if it starts to hurt in a way that is no longer pleasurable, you should stop. “Perhaps you’re too tense or you didn’t use enough lube, you should listen to your body,” says Murphy.
Go straight to the bathroom once you’re done
Just as you would urinate after vaginal intercourse to prevent a UTI, you should go to the bathroom after anal sex.
“This is because bacteria from the anus may accidentally end up in the vagina and urethra, due to being so close together, which can lead to a UTI,” says Murphy. “Also, don’t be alarmed if you experience similar sensations to flatulence, this is perfectly normal when it comes to anal play.”