Too Tight

Friday, November 19, 2004

Question

My boyfriend and I are starting to experiment with anal sex. It's a first for both of us. I bought a few dildos, trying to work my way up to his large-than-average penis. But any anal penetration still hurts. We are taking it very slow. He is patient and careful. But I am concerned I may receive some tearing. Should I be worried? My pressing concern is for the anal lubricants. Is there any possibility that these may stay in my rectum? Are the desensitizing lubricants safe to use, or could they cause irritation or an infection?

Answer

Was it your idea or your boyfriend's idea to experiment with anal sex? I ask this question because it sounds like you are ambivalent about this project. If it's something that you really want to do, try to stay in touch with why you want anal sex rather than allowing your anxieties to take over. Fantasize about doing it, being excited about the penetration, and enjoying receiving it. Don't just practice with the dildos during partnered sex. Use them when you masturbate. Make sure you have the very tiniest size available. Don't use it until you are aroused and breathing pretty fast. Then lubricate it and use the tip of it to just tease your anal opening. Stimulate your clitoris as well. Start with just experiencing an orgasm combined with pleasurable anal sensations from external anal tickling and stroking. Your body will get the message that feeling something "down there" does not mean there will also soon be pain. Deny yourself actual penetration with the little toy until you want it so bad you can taste it. Visualize your anus opening up and sucking in the dildo or plug, so that the orifice becomes active, rather than passively waiting to be hurt.

And be patient. If you are anxious and tense about anal sex (which most people are), you need to allow yourself adequate time to reprogram your mind and body. The discomfort of toilet training and the shame our culture associates with excretion don't help us to eroticize that extra opening. Nor does pain. Promise your fragile rear orifice that you will never allow it to be hurt. If you are feeling pleasure only, you'll know there's no tearing. And don't allow yourself to imagine that being injured is inevitable during anal sex. It's not. The anus can stretch enough to admit a penis, even a large one, without being torn.

Anal lubricants don't stay in your body; they'll be swept away by your next bowel movement. I wouldn't recommend numbing ointments because I think they'll just make you worry more. It's better to be in touch with your body, breathing deeply and slowly, and proceeding carefully. If you know you can pleasure yourself with anal toys, you can show your partner what size and angle of insertion are best for you.

However, if your anus starts to burn unpleasantly the minute a lubricant is applied, it could be that you need a different lube. Some people are sensitive to various common ingredients in lubricants. Nonoxynol-9 is the biggest culprit. It's a detergent that was added to lubricants and condoms because it killed HIV in the test tube, but it doesn't work that way in the human body. Instead, it may cause so much skin irritation that it's easier for HIV to enter the body. Glycerin is fine for most people, but a few develop yeast infections from it, or from grapeseed extract. Propylene glycol is another potential villain.

Pleasureglide lubricant does not contain glycerin or propylene glycol. Vitamin E oil doesn't either, but it's not condom-compatible. Unlike a water-based lubricant, the oil may cause holes or tearing in a latex condom. However, it could be used with Avanti or another brand of plastic condom. One variety of the KY Jelly products has glycerin but no propylene glycol. Be sure to read the label on any lube you try; any of this information could change. (You might also check out our All you ever wanted to know about lube writeup and the descriptions of the various kinds of lube in our catalogue. -VE)