How to have anal sex safely, as research shows it's rising in popularity

The rise in popularity of anal sex among heterosexual couples is causing health problems in women in particular, according to two doctors.

NHS surgeons Tabitha Gana and Lesley Hunt say women are suffering injuries and other health risks without being aware of such problems.

In an article for the British Medical Journal, they say consequences of anal intercourse for women can include incontinence, sexually transmitted infections and pain and bleeding.

The doctors wrote that this can be a result of women experiencing bodily trauma while engaging in anal sex.

Gana and Hunt claimed that people are taking part in the practice without knowing potential risks as, doctors are reluctant to discuss the issue.

They said anal intercourse can affect women differently to men, as the former have a different bodily anatomy which can make them more prone to health outcomes.

‘Increased rates of faecal incontinence and anal sphincter injury have been reported in women who have anal intercourse,’ the report said.

It 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.

‘Women have less robust anal sphincters and lower anal canal pressures than men, and damage caused by anal penetration is therefore more consequential.

‘The pain and bleeding women report after anal sex is indicative of trauma, and risks may be increased if anal sex is coerced.’

But, authors wrote, doctors are more reluctant to talk to women about anal sex for fear of being judgemental or homophobic.

Data from the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes shows that the number of young people (16-24-year-olds) having heterosexual anal sex has increased by more than double, rising from 12.5% to 28.5% in recent decades.

Given the risks, whether you’ve already given it a go or anal sex is something you’re thinking of exploring, it’s vital to know how to engage in it safely.

Rebecca Dakin, sex expert and author of 101 Sex Tips says there are the things you should be mindful of when having anal sex.

She says the holy grail is lube: ‘The key thing is relaxation through lots of foreplay, lots of lube, and a sensitive lover who is going to take their time’.

Adult sex educator Chris Pinto adds: ‘The key to enjoying anal sex is relaxation and LOTS of lubrication. “Going in dry” will be unpleasant and painful for all involved.’

He recommends getting in the mood using fingers and tongues before any penetration, which doesn’t just feel good but helps prepare the body for the act itself.

‘There are a number of other ways to prepare for anal sex too,’ Chris continues.

‘Sharing a warm bath together with some candles can help release the tension in the pelvic area. You can even take the chance to explore ahead of time whilst bathing, with water itself as a sort of lubricant.’

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