Sex Ed

Your Biggest Questions About Anal Sex, Answered

November 23, 2016 by Justin Lehmiller


As someone who’s in the business of sex education, I get asked sex questions all of the time. These questions cover every topic you can possibly imagine, with one of the most popular being anal sex. For example, I’ve received questions regarding how many people are doing it, whether women enjoy it, and how to make it more pleasurable, among other things. One anal sex question I haven’t yet written about, though, is whether it can harm your body. Specifically, are receivers of anal sex likely to develop problems with their rear ends? This is a surprisingly common question and it turns out that there’s not a lot of good scientifically-based information about it online, so I figured it was time for me to tackle it.

I recently published an article on VICE’s new health channel, TONIC, in which I document what I learned after scouring the scientific literature on this topic. As you’ll see, only a handful of relevant studies have been conducted to date; however, they all point to a similar conclusion, which is that the vast majority of people who practice receptive anal sex don’t seem to be having issues with their anal health or functioning.

That said, there is some research to suggest that people who practice extreme anal exploration–we’re talking things like fisting and double penetration–sometimes experience complications as a result. Because these activities are common in the world of porn (for example, a search for anal fisting on Pornhub brings up more than 3,000 hits, whereas a search for double anal brings up more than 8,000), it seems advisable to recommend that porn not be used as your how-to guide when it comes to anal stimulation.

Check out the full article in TONIC for more, including information on best practices for safe, mutually pleasurable anal sex.

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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