It used to be often spoken about in hush-hush terms and considered taboo by some.
Now many people's minds are more open and, for many couples – homosexual or heterosexual – it’s now part of their sexual journey.
Anal sex might still be considered a no-go zone for some, but there’s nothing wrong with it, according to Dr Lerato Masemola.
Like the vagina, the anus has nerve endings that makes it just as pleasurable as vaginal sex. However, it remains the riskiest form of sexual intercourse.
Lerato Mkhize* (27) tried anal sex with her current boyfriend back in 2013.
Their first attempt was an epic fail due to a lack of lubricant. She says the second time around was easier when using a store-bought lubricant though, she says.
“Although he enjoyed it, we had to stop because I couldn’t take it anymore. It was just too painful. I was worried about tearing or an infection,” sats Lerato.
“Both partners can get sexual pleasure from anal play," says Dr Masemola.
"The male prostate can also be stimulated with a finger (directed towards his front or towards the testicles) or a sex toy.
“Stimulating the anus correctly can result in just as much pleasure as the genitals.”
Unprotected sex exposes you to unwanted pregnancy and the risk of contracting STIs, even with anal sex.
Dr Masemola explains pregnancy can occur if semen gets near the opening of the vagina and she recommends using a condom.
Anal sex exposes you to the same sexual diseases that can be contracted through vaginal intercourse. These include HIV, syphilis, hepatitis, chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
It also puts you at a risk of contracting human papilloma virus (HPV), which is incurable and can cause anal warts and cancer, adds Dr Masemola.
- Anal tears
The anus doesn’t have a lot of natural lubricant fluids so it can easily tear during penetration. Using water-based lubricants can help but doesn’t completely prevent tearing.
- Piles and continuous bleeding
Also known as haemorrhoids, piles can cause bleeding. Bleeding can also result from a deeper skin tear and needs immediate medical attention.
- Increased risks of STIs
Tears bleed and allow the transfer of bacteria and viruses into your body making you and your partner prone to infections due to the increase in blood contact.
- Faecal incontinence
Repetitive anal sex may weaken anal muscles, making it difficult to hold in faeces. Dr Masemola says this can be prevented with exercises to strengthen the anal muscles.
Speaking to your doctor first is advisable if you're nervous.
- Bowel injuries
These may occur when using sharp objects and sex toys – the delicate skin of the rectum and lower colon can be perforated. Seek immediate medical attention if this happens.
You and your partner must be comfortable, relaxed and prepared. There shouldn’t be any surprises, advises Dr Masemola, and you should stop as soon as one of you asks.
Lubricate, lubricate, lubricate
Anal sex can cause pain and discomfort, so minimise tears with a water-based lubricant.
“Start slow and gently to allow the anus to get used to the penetration. Consider starting with a finger or a small sex toy,” Masemola advises.
Find what works for you
Don’t rush it. Try different positions to find one that works for you and you partner.
Change a condom when you switch from vaginal to anal sex to prevent the transfer of bacteria.
* Not her real name.
This article was originally published in Move! magazine.