When we consider the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior conducted in 2010 revealed that almost 1 in 3 American women, aged 18 to 59, reported some difficulty with pain the last time that they had sex, there are bound to be problems with anal sex. As with vaginal intercourse, anal sex should not be painful and there is a lot of false information over inflating the risks of having anal sex. If you want anal play or anal sex easy and worry free, then it is good to know the structure of your back passage and how to control it.
People have been shoving things up their asses for millenia without knowing anything much about their back passage. Anal Sex has historically been a standard method of contraception, preserving a woman’s “Virginity” as well as just for the pleasure of it. Yet, in the modern, western world, mainstream media and sexual education resources warn of many perils and risks associated with the practice. This article will explain in some detail where things commonly go wrong for people trying anal sex and dispel most of the negative press.
Two sphincters and two brains
It is very common for people to refer to the human anus as “the sphincter” which is not accurate, is misleading and leads to assumptions that cause many problems people have with anal sex. The term anus is rather ambiguous. It can mean just the visible exterior opening or the entirety of the complex structure(s) that controls the release of digestive waste (Poo). Just inside the visible opening is the channel between the rectum and the outside world. This is called the anal canal.
The anal canal varies considerably in length from person to person. In some people the anal canal is less than 2cm (maybe 1/2 an inch) long but can be as long as 5 cm (2 inches) in others. There are multiple muscles structures that surround anal canal and these are grouped into two collections of muscles. These two separate collections of muscles are called the internal (inner) anal sphincter and the external (outer) anal sphincter.
Most people who know about the two anal sphincters think they are stacked one on top of the other with the External Anal Sphincter (EAS) at the bottom of the anal canal and the Internal Anal Sphincter (IAS) at the top. Not true.
Both sphincters surround the full length of the anal canal with the outer sphincter encasing the inner sphincter. The sometimes visible “ring” of the anus is only the lower end of the outer sphincter which rolls over the end of the inner sphincter. It is just the end of one of the sphincters that creates the familiar puckered ring which can be quite prominent on some (see figure “Lower Ring of EAS”).
The EAS is actually separated in to three muscle structures that are also connected to other muscle and tissue structures. All this considered, it is very hard to find consistency in the illustrations and descriptions of the anal sphincters. This is most likely due to individual differences which result in Lower Ring not present or not obvious on many people.
The three sections or parts of the EAS are clearly illustrated below (see parts A, B and C).
It is universally accepted that the three parts of the EAS work together and are control by the voluntary nervous system, but the IAS action is entirely involuntary, and it is in a state of continuous maximal contraction and is responsible for 85% of the closing force on the anus. So the first problem people have with anal penetration is getting the IAS to relax/open. Just as they think it is all systems go because they feel the EAS relaxing which they can see at the very entrance to the anal canal, they strain the inner sphincter by forcing it open – Ouch!
Problems with the outer sphincter
Most people open their anus on a daily basis to pass solids as wide as an average erect penis and could comfortably accommodate something wider than what they pass. To open the outer sphincter as wide or wider than the average cock is as easy as having a shit.
Because most people don’t want to actually shit on their partner, the most common piece of advice when starting to explore the pleasures of anal sex is to have an enema before you start. It is so you will be confident that you will not actually shit when you try to.
But relaxing the outer sphincter is only going to reduce the pressure on your sphincter by 15% because the inner sphincter is still clamped tight and if you force that open it is going to hurt.greatly.
Problems with the inner sphincter
Being mentally and physically relaxed is important to the process of opening the inner sphincter, so a fear of shitting in the middle of proceeding is a show stopper for both sphincters. Even if you consciously over-ride your fear and start pushing out to open the outer sphincter, the inner sphincter is not going to let go while there is any fear or anxiety. Here again is why enemas are so often recommended. It is to make sure you passage is clear and you are mentally comfortable.
When trying to avoid pain from anal penetration, you don’t ram something through the outer sphincter so remember to be considerate of the inner sphincter. You need to take time to massaging the inner sphincter with the tip of what ever is going in, finger(s), penis, toy, whatever.
Control of the inner sphincters is a semi-Autonomic response (see: Autonomic nervous system). The internal sphincter responds automatically to pressure from stuff accumulating in the rectum. When pressure is put on the inner sphincter from the inside it starts to “let go”. That is when you experience the sudden urge to poo. But you can consciously control you outer sphincter to stop yourself shitting. You don’t just shit as soon as you get the urge, just because the inner sphincter recons it is time to do so.
This is why pausing just as you get past the outer sphincter is standard advice. The inner sphincter will respond to the pressure as long as the Receiver is calm/relaxed. It can be a great help for the receiver to take control in the initial stages. Position is everything to give the receiver control. Even if the Giver initiates proceedings, it can help greatly to get the tip of the penis (or toy) in and then stop and wait and let the Receiver control the next step of the penetration, when they are ready. That is to say when they feel the internal sphincter relax. Many don’t even realize that it is the internal sphincter relaxing that makes them feel read for more penetration.
So you take the initial penetration in stages. Pushing out to pass the outer sphincter and even while you are still pushing your ass out, wait for the relaxation of the inner sphincter before pushing through. The Receiver should try pushing and then resting repeatedly to let the cock slide in.
Problems with the overwhelming urge to poo
The inner sphincter’s response to pressure from solids can become a problem once the ass is fully penetrated. An overwhelming urge to run to the toilet just as you are getting started is a very common problem for beginners. As soon as something passes through the inner sphincter the autonomic nervous systems tells the brain it is time to poo. The receiver often feels an uncontrollable urge to shit which sends them running to the bathroom.
Most need to be confident that the urge is not from shit that will end up all over their partner or the bedding, so again if the Receiver has had an enema to clean out their back passage then you know there is no need run off.
Problems caused by the angles
The next issue is only seen when you look at a side cross-section. It is the same for males as it is for females.
Normal positioning of the Anorectal flexure
Sitting, standing, lying flat on your stomach or your back, kneeling, etc., most of the time the anal canal is roughly in-line with your belly button (although the diagrams above show two entirely different interpretations of how things are positioned). Then there is a sharp turn towards the spine to enter the rectum (the Anorectal flexure). In addition, these illustrations show the rectum to be inflated and normally it is not. When the rectum is empty, as most want it to be for anal sex, the top wall of the rectum is lying flat over the top of the anal canal with the weight of the other internal organs pushing it down. The first time many people put their finger in an anus they believe the top of it is sealed shut. When the finger is hooked towards the back of the tail bone they discover the expanse of the rectal cavity.
The anorectal flexure join between the anal canal and the rectum is intentionally choked shut by yet another muscle you have to coax your way past. In some people this turn can be a very sharp bend, in others not so much (as shown by the different depictions of the human abdomen above, and it has nothing to do with being male or female). This sharp turn (also called the Anorectal Angle) is maintained by a very important muscle called the Puborectalis muscle that hooks around the top of the anus. Because it is not seen as part of the muscle structure of the anus or rectum it is commonly overlooked.
Straightening out the Anorectal flexure
So opening your ass is not just about opening your anus. Your Puborectalis muscles must also relax. Most people who are into anal sex would confess that getting excited by the thought or the anticipation of anal sex triggers the feeling that it is time to go to the toilet. What most don’t realize is this feeling is the Puborectalis muscle relaxing in anticipation. And if you are not yet into anal sex, not excited by the prospect of being buggered then the puborctalis muscles does not relax.
Remember also that part of the “Fight or Flight” response of the body is to tighten all these muscles. This is the single biggest issue for people have trouble with latent anxiety about having their ass penetrated. Being in the mood is so important. This is why there is such polarisation between some people who just don’t have a problem with anal sex and others. The good news is that the body makes its own adjustments as the mind and body get use to the idea of something being pushed in there. That is why wearing a but plug is so good for training. It is more about training the brain and nervous system than stretching the muscles.
Anal Sex Problems with Positioning
Position will help when you are first being penetrated. It is especially beneficial if you are not good at controlling those important muscles with will power alone.
This is why so many say it is better if the Bottom starts off on top and more specifically starts in a squatting position and trying to poo. Other very effective starting position is the Yoga Child’s pose which can easily transition to doggy style. Many find Spooning, lying on their side, to be a very mentally and physically relaxing position. With the receivers knees bent up to their chest it is also a position that lends itself to pooing action for easy entry. Finally there is Happy Baby. It hands a lot more control of the penetration to the top, but it also allows clear access and for them to adopt a very stable kneeling or standing position, minimising the amount of fumbling they might do otherwise. All of these positions allow the receive to take control of the rate of penetration as well.
Fig. 1 – Best position to begin with
Problems with Channel navigation
So if you get pasted the sphincters and the Puborectalis then there is a new kind of pain to avoid. A pain that is much harder to pin down, where it is or what it feels like. That is because internal distress often results in Referred Pain.
This pain can be a result of failing to navigate the Anorectal Angle and pushing straight into the wall of the rectum above the anus. It may not just be the rectum complaining. In the case of a male, right behind the wall of the rectum above the anus is the prostate and seminal ducts which you might be squashing. For a woman it could be the cervix or uterus. Body positioning and the angle of the penetrating object can dramatically ease navigating the Anorectal Angle. If you lean back the kink becomes sharper. Crouching forward, literally try to put you head between your knees, will straighten this section out. The chart provided by Wiki suggests quite specific locations for referred pain, but internal distress is often just referred as a head ache or pain in the neck or back.
But we are not all the way in there yet. Next you have to worry about the intestinal folds. Use gentle gyrations as you insert further to ensure you are not pushing the tip into and behind one of the folds.
Then there is the “POP” sensation and an associated sharp pain which is likely a referred pain. This can be caused by forcing either of the sphincters open before they are ready. Pushing passed the Puborectlis muscle before it is ready or pushing a straight object through the Anorectal bend or pushing past one of the Transverse rectal folds. To stop a savage POP and other referred pain, the Bottom must do the pooing thing while the Top works on navigating the channel.
The Top starts the entry by aiming for the belly button to pass through the line of the sphincters (the anal canal). Then you tilt things gently toward the back to follow the spine while not over stressing/stretching the Bottom. At this point it is again important for the bottom to try pooping things out. This is again a natural act that will pull rectum and anus more in line. As you go deeper you start tilting things towards you front again, following the line of the spine and giving the Transvers folds time to get out of the way.
Anal Sex Problems Summarized
As the body (ass) gets more used to things going in, as opposed to coming out, you will find that you need to worry less and less about all this maneuvering. The mind will learn to control all the muscles down there independently. But the first step is to simply try and do a poo when you are working something in. Just start by getting the tip in and then pushing it back out with your ass. As you try pushing out with your ass, start pushing the dildo (or whatever) in gently. Then let it be pushed out again and while still pushing out, push it back in with your hand.
You should also check out another reference I have written called Good anal lube. You will need lube, lots of lube. More lube than you can possibly imagine. injecting lube before you start is the place to start.
A lot of this material and the ideas for this article come from an online group I moderate. If you want to see these references and more, FetLife is free to join and your can follow this link to Anal 101 where the stickies have alphabetic listings to this and more.