Heads up, nerds! This is the first part in a 5-part series we’re launching on anal sex FAQs based on some of the most common questions we see here on the blog and on other forums on the web.
In this first installment we’re going to do a quick overview of you anal anatomy, detail the best way to perform an anal enema, and discuss the health concerns and FAQs involved.
In part 2 we’ll look at how to pick the perfect first anal toy. Part 3 will cover lube and lubing up. In part 4 we’ll cover how to properly warm up for anal. And lastly, in part 5 we’ll look at how to talk about anal sex with your partner.
Let’s dive in!
Anatomy of an Anus
We’ll keep this quick and high level. There’s some basic stuff you should know about your anal anatomy to help prepare for butt sex the right way.
Starting from the bottom-up (pun intended!), we have the anus, rectum, sigmoid colon, and descending colon.
Anal sex is usually only directly involving the anus and rectum. However we’ll also look at the sigmoid, descending, and transverse colon as it is relevant to our interests.
Sphincter (inner & outer)
Your asshole is comprised of two sphincters – the aptly named internal sphincter and external sphincter. The outer sphincter is the one you can control, and can contract or relax at will. This one isn’t usually the problem.
The inner sphincter, on the other hand, is an involuntary muscle that is normally your best friend. It’s the muscle that keeps you from having an involuntary bowel movement when you’re walking around.
It has some nerve endings that can feel internal pressure, which is how you can tell if you need to go to the bathroom. It’s this muscle that’s going to pose the biggest problems fitting anything into your ass, and going to make things feel unnatural as they slide out as well.
Beyond the inner sphincter of the anus is the rectum – the lowest 4 – 6 inches of the large intestine. This is where the overwhelming majority of all anal play is done. Lucky for us, it’s also devoid of poop 90% of the time. More on this in a bit.
Keep in mind the rectum and large intestine’s job is to absorb water and nutrients. Mostly water, but it is a very thin lining and it can absorb other particles. It is fairly pliable and elastic, but still be careful inserting any long, hard objects. The longer a toy you put in your ass, the softer and more flexible it should be.
Cutting-edge demographic data informs us that roughly half of our readers will have a prostate. This is a big incentive to get into anal play for men. It’s also a big incentive to convince your man to try anal play. As comedienne Ali Wong so eloquently put it:
You see the look in a man’s eye… and it’s like you’re the first lady to show him he had a magical clit up his butt hole!
The prostate is located roughly 3″ inside the rectum, on the front side of the body. If you completely insert your index finger and curl it upwards in a “come here” motion, you should feel the prostate. Sort of like a fibrous, spongey bulb. Sort of similar to locating the G-spot, only it’s a bit more bulbous against a slightly smoother cavity.
Sigmoid, Descending, and Transverse Colon
The sigmoid colon is the S-shaped part of the large intestine that connects the rectum and the transverse colon, which is the part that crosses the body. The purpose is to re-absorb water and other trace nutrients from feces as they move toward the rectum. In general we don’t need to worry about the descending or transverse colon unless doing depth play – anything longer than 6 inches or so.
Alright, biology lesson aside now we’re ready to look at the pros and cons of using an enema for anal sex!
Your Rectum is Clean Most of the Time
Getting cleaned up for anal sex and using enemas is a sort of controversial subject, and there’s a lot of conflicting advice out there. The gist is that anal enemas may not be necessary and may upset your friendly digestive bacteria and cause inflammation, among other things. We take a rather minimalist approach, but you can make things more involved if you’d like. It’s all about finding a process that works for your and your body.
The fact of the matter is, your rectum is actually fairly clean most of the time. This depends on what you’ve had to eat in the last 24 hours and when you last went to the bathroom, but in general you’re safe for anal play 80-90% of the time.
Feces are mostly found in the transverse and descending colon, where water is re-absorbed by the body until expulsion. This is a process that can take hours, only arriving in the rectum before final expulsion.
Only occasional small bits of poop that get stuck from prior BMs end up in the rectum over time. If there’s any appreciable amount of poop in your rectum, you’d feel pressure like you had to use the bathroom. If you don’t feel that sensation, you’re most likely in the clear.
That said, we understand that nobody likes accidental poop during anal sex, and it’s important to feel clean and sexy and be confident knowing that nothing will come up while you’re relaxing into a toy or your partner.
How To Use an Enema: The Basics
The solution is to use an enema. You have 3 basic options:
- Pre-bought saline enemas
- A squeeze-bulb style
- A colonic bag with nozzle
Any of these designs will work, but we generally like the simple squeeze bulb kind. Pre-bought saline enemas are super convenient, bust cost more in the long-term compared to the other 2 reusable options. Colonic bags are useful if you’re into depth play, but that volume of water is more than is needed to clean out for most anal play and can be counteractive to our goals. We’re also not going to be holding in for any length of time, as that is only useful for a full colonic enema.
Step-by-Step Anal Enema How-to
- Take 2 tablespoons of psyllium fiber the night before. (Optional)
- Use the bathroom to expel any large feces in your rectum.
- Clean your asshole with a baby wipe or some soap and warm water.
- Fill a small bowl with lukewarm water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt (for electrolyte balance) and let dissolve.
- Get your bulb enema, squeeze the air out, and insert the tip into the bowl to fill. Once ‘full’, squeeze the last bit of air out again and re-fill completely.
- Place a towel down in your bathroom or bathtub, and get down on all fours. Get a small amount of lube and apply to your asshole and the nozzle of the enema bulb.
- Reach behind you and gently insert the tip of the enema bulb into your ass. If it feels stuck, do not force it. That means your angle is off; re-position and try again gently. Forcing it will only cause tears to your anus.
- Once inserted, gently squeeze the contents of the bulb into your rectum. Don’t press too fast to irritate the anal lining, and try to keep steady outgoing pressure so you don’t accidentally suck anything back in.
- Hold the water in for 30-60 seconds to clean out the rectum, and then expel over the toilet. (It’s safe to leave the water in for up to 15 minutes, but we prefer the quick rinse approach)
- If you don’t feel 100% clean after the first wash, you can refill the bulb and repeat once more. If you routinely need more than 2 rinses, look at your fiber intake before getting too aggressive with the enemas.
Colonics vs Enemas
A colonic is when you flush large amounts of water up into the entire large intestine. These are performed before colonoscopies, and are generally not needed for regular anal sex. That said, they can be a good idea if you’re planning on any depth play – going deeper than 6″ with a toy – or just want to REALLY clean things out before a special night.
To perform a colonic, follow all the same steps we did for a simple rectal enema above. The only differences are:
- Use more water. You will need to use the larger colonic bags for these (or alternatively do 2 – 3 full squeeze bulbs).
- Hold the water in for 10-15 minutes. The idea is to actually get water into the sigmoid and transverse colon, stimulate peristalsis, and let the solution soften up any stools up in there. We recommend a saline solution for this purpose.
Keep in mind all that water won’t come out at once – it can take another 30 – 90 minutes for everything to work it’s way back out from the depths of your large intestines. This is why we do not recommend full colonics right before anal sex. Do it at least an hour beforehand, and we recommend taking a shower afterwards. to further clean up
What Kind of Enema? Water, Saline, Coffee, Herbal, Oil, and more…
Another conflicting area of research is what to include in your enema. Various health blogs tout the benefits of things like coffee, lemon, sugar water, or even cayenne enemas for various colon health benefits.
The fact is: many of these “healthy” enemas cause a significant amount of inflammation in the rectum, and can make the lining dry and irritable during anal sex. This is the opposite of what we want, and opens your ass up to micro-tears which can increase complications or chance of transmission for STIs.
In short, these various alternative enemas may or may not have their own unique health benefits. But when it comes to preparing for anal play we do not recommend any of them.
This leaves either plain water or saline (salt water) as the enema of choice. We actually like a 1/2 teaspoon of salt added to your enema water to help prevent the loss of electrolytes via osmosis. That said, using plain tap water is fine as long as you don’t leave it in for more than a couple of minutes for a quick flush.
Are Enemas and Colonics Safe?
Yes, they are safe as long as you use a clean solution like saline and do not more than a couple per week. When you perform an enema, it can actually cause minor irritations to the lining of your large intestine. At the same time, there is a delicate biome of gut bacteria and microfauna that help you digest food and stay regular. Performing an enema flushes out some of these helpful microfauna, which can make you gassy and uncomfortable afterwards.
If you perform enemas too often, you risk severely throwing off the balance of your gut biome which can cause digestive issues, headaches, and even rashes. The inflammation that immediately follows an enema can also make it easier to transmit and receive STIs.
This is why we do not recommend flushing until the water runs clear, as some health blogs suggest. Repeated anal douching can harm gut bacteria, cause inflammation, and is generally unnecessary.
As a general rule, how thoroughly you flush is inversely related to how frequently you do it. These aren’t hard and fast rules, but general suggestions to stay on the safe side:
- Daily or multiple times per week: only use a single bulb at once, and try not to flush more than once.
- Once every 1-2 weeks? Still only a single bulb at once, but you can flush 2 or 3 times to ensure things are clear
- Less than once a month? You could get away with full colonics fairly safely
But all things considered, if you follow proper instructions and don’t do them too often or with unsafe solutions, enemas are perfectly safe.
Do I Really Need To Use An Enema?
So given that enemas and colonics can be harmful to your gut biome, do you really need to use an enema before anal sex?
In our non-professional opinions, enemas are not necessary for everyday use before anal sex.
As we’ve mentioned above, there’s generally not much poop in your rectum. Which is the only part of the butt that’s accessible to most anal sex.
This is also why we don’t want to use more than a single bulb of water during an enema. Too much water will push up into the sigmoid colon, which will trigger peristalsis, which will cause poop from further up to move down into the rectum.
Trying to be “extra clean” can often result in more of a mess once you start doing the act!
So given the health risks involved, the fact that the rectum is often clean, and the fact that enemas don’t always improve the situation necessarily, we recommend doing the bare minimum and only performing an enema if you really feel you need it.
We end up doing enemas only if we know we’ll be doing a lot of anal play that day/night. For everyday quick excursions an anal enema probably isn’t necessary.
To put it another way: it won’t hurt you to do an enema every now and then. But they aren’t medically necessary, not necessarily helpful for sex, and doing them too often may be unhealthy.
Get Your Diet in Line Before Anal Sex
Perhaps even more important than any enema or anal douche is getting your diet straight. Don’t just take it from us, take it from porn star Joanna Angel:
Eating solid food with lots of fiber the day before/the day of anal sex is the ultimate key to success. I’ll make myself smoothies with scoops of fiber in it (psyllium husks!) and well, yeah. Without giving too many gross details — it makes you all regular and stuff.
Here’s some high-fiber foods that can help, especially the day before your anal session:
- Green vegetables and salad greens
- Beans, lentils, and leghumes
- Whole grain oats and breads
- Nuts and seeds
- Bananas, apples, mangoes, and berries
- Greek yogurt (less fiber, but has probiotics)
Furthermore, we’ve found highly processed foods that contain lots of gluten or sugars to also inflame the gut. This causes much less-solid bowel movements, and leaves particles of poo stuck inside the recesses of the large intestine, which could come avalanching out at any time.
That’s not to say you need to overhaul your whole diet or lifestyle to have amazing anal sex, we’ve just found every little bit helps if you’re worried about the cleanliness of it all.
Use Bulking Agents Like Psyllium Fiber Instead
As briefly mentioned above, we also like to recommend a fiber supplement like whole psyllium husk for a natural, healthy cleanse from within. Take a tablespoon or two of fiber before bed will help you have an amazing bowel movement first thing in the morning, which will leave you 100% clean and ready to go for hours.
We recommend standard bulk psyllium that usually comes plain or orange flavored. You can mix it with water and it tastes like shitty knockoff tang, or just throw back a spoonful and wash it down with water like you were swallowing a pill.
Psyllium does come in actual pill form to make it easier to swallow, but the cost is like 3-4x that of the bulk powder, so we don’t really recommend it unless you can’t stand the texture of the raw powder.. A $10 jar or bag of the powder will last 3-6 months.
Both of us feel much ‘safer’ and able to relax during anal sex when we know things are cleaned out and there are no surprises waiting!
Alright, we made it through perhaps the most un-sexy subject of this entire series!
But with that dirty bit of business out of the way now we can get down to the fun parts: like buying your first anal toy!