Ask the Doctors: Prep for Anal Sex

What should I do to prepare for anal… if anything at all! I’ve heard enemas… I’ve heard nothing.. I want to make it as enjoyable as possible for both of us. Your help is appreciated.

It’s not 100% clear from your question whether you’re asking about how to have anal sex or if you’re just interested in finding out how to keep things clean. If you’re new to exploring anal play, or even if you’ve been doing it for a while, check out this page for lots of helpful tips about lubrication, relaxation and getting started. You could also check out Tristan Taormino’s Expert Guide to Anal Sex.

So assuming that you’re asking about cleaning things up before anal play, there are definitely some different approaches. The first thing to know is that if you do any kind of anal play, especially anal penetration, it’s pretty likely that sooner or later, you’ll come into contact with feces. The body’s digestive system isn’t entirely predictable and even with a good diet and excellent planning, it can still happen. Wearing gloves and condoms can make that less of a hassle, as can putting a dark towel down before you get started. But I think it’s best to be realistic about the fact that “shit happens. We can take steps to minimize the chances, but there aren’t any guarantees.

One of the best ways to improve your odds of keeping things neat is for the person on the receiving end of anal play to have a good diet. If you don’t eat enough vegetables, or if you eat really fatty foods, that tends to make your stools soft and therefore, there’s likely to be more left behind. A good diet with lots of fiber means there’s less chance of anything messy happening. Of course, even folks who generally have good diets sometimes eat things that upset their digestion.

Some people advocate doing an enema to rinse out the rectum, while others don’t. Mostly, that’s a personal choice. In general, there’s no harm to doing them, although if you regularly do enemas, you can disrupt your electrolyte balance. So I’m going to assume that we’re talking about occasional rinsing out. For the most part, this is more about personal comfort than anything else. If you and/or your partner find that it makes anal play more relaxed, go for it. After all, it’s hard to enjoy things if you’re worrying. And some people discover that the preparation can help put them in a sexy mood, just like lighting candles or putting on lingerie. On the other hand, if you don’t want to bother, then don’t worry about it.

There are a few different options for doing enemas. First, you can buy a hose that attaches to the bath faucet. The advantage is that it’s super-easy to use. But if your water pressure or temperature is prone to change when someone turns on a sink, that can be a problem. Also, you’re getting water straight from the faucet, with all of the chlorine and other chemicals that tap water can contain. Depending on how sensitive you are and what’s in your water, that can be irritating.

Your second choice is to get an enema/hot water bottle kit from the drug store. These are pretty easy to use, although you’ll want to wash the hose out well after each use. If you have a filter on your sink or a filter pitcher, use that. Add ¼ teaspoon of salt for every 6 oz. of water to make it saline. (1.25 ml of salt to 30 ml of water) and put it in the microwave for a minute or so. You’ll want the water to be approximately wrist temperature- too hot can burn and too cold can cause cramps. Check the temperature before pouring it into the bottle and make sure the valve is closed, first!

With these sorts of enema kits, you hang the bottle on something and gravity does the work. The higher you hang it, the faster it’ll flow, but I don’t recommend doing it more than waist height. Lubricate the nozzle, lie on your back or side, insert the nozzle and open the valve.

The third choice is the disposable enemas that are available at any drug store. They contain a laxative, but you can empty and rinse the bottle out pretty easily. Follow the same directions for making saline water and for getting into position. You simply lubricate the nozzle, insert it and squeeze the water out. Once the water is inside you, remove the nozzle. You can also release the water into the toilet and reuse the bottle a few times (in the same session!) because there’s a valve that keeps it from getting backwash. Once you’re done with it, toss it in the trash. These are great for travel since there’s nothing to have to take home. There are also non-disposable versions of this style, but they work pretty much the same way.

People offer different advice regarding how long to hold the water in. For anal play, you’re really just rinsing the rectum out, so you don’t need to hold it in there for too long. You may feel some discomfort if you’re unfamiliar with enemas, but most people seem to get used to it.

When you’re ready to be done, just sit on the toilet and release the water. Some people like to repeat the cycle a couple of times- it’s up to you. But there are a couple of tips I can offer. Since the rectum and colon have all sorts of folds and pockets, water can get trapped until you move into a new position. So when you’re releasing the water, shift your body around to get as much out as you can and you may want to stay near a bathroom for an hour or two, just in case. It’s also helpful if you do your prep a few hours in advance to give things time to settle out.

Another option, either on its own or in addition to enemas, is to use wipes before starting your anal pleasures to make sure that the external area is nice and clean. Use the unscented, hypoallergenic wipes that they make for babies. Plus, you can use them to clean up afterwards, too.

I hope that helps!


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Dr. Charlie Glickman

Charlie Glickman is the Education Program Manager at Good Vibrations. He also writes, blogs, teaches workshops and university courses, presents at conferences, and trains sexuality educators. He’s certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, and loves geeking out about sex, relationships, sex-positivity, love and shame, communities of erotic affiliation, and sexual practices and techniques of all varieties. Follow him online, on Twitter at @charlieglickman, or on Facebook.

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