It can feel very intimidating if you're interested in trying out an anal toy but haven't before. Will it hurt? What if it goes up and you can't get it back? Is it sanitary? What size should I start with? What material is best? How do I clean it? Or perhaps you've tried anal toys before, and it didn't go well. Whether you want to try an anal toy during your solo sex time, partnered play, or really any other time, look no further — consider this your ultimate guide to anal toys for beginners (or anyone interested in anal play!)
Here's the thing — just like with any other type of new sexual experience, there is a learning curve for both the physical and the mental aspects. There is preparation you can do physically and mentally. There are best practices during play and aftercare. Usually, when someone reports having a negative first experience with anal toys or play, it's because they didn't know these best practices. After years of being a sex therapist and educator and interviewing experts on butts like Dr. Evan Goldstein and Bobby Box, I've got you. Let's make your experience with anal toys fun, safe, pleasurable, and memorable — in the best way.
First, we need to get your mind in the right place. Just like how orgasms happen in the brain (yes, that's true!), getting turned on occurs in the brain. So, if you're thinking about how scary playing with anal toys is or that you're doing something wrong, bad, or even sinful — it's tough to relax enough to enjoy the pleasures of anal toys and even penetrative anal sex. Repeat after me: anal play is a beautiful, natural, and pleasurable activity.
It's also essential to understand the anatomy of your butt! Three key things to know about your anatomy as a beginner to anal toys and play:
- Your butt hole (anus) has two muscles, the internal and external anal sphincters. The internal sphincter cannot be controlled or strengthened — it's an involuntary muscle. However, the external sphincter can be controlled, which means that you can breathe deeply and relax (this is also the one you clench when you have to go to the bathroom and aren't at a toilet yet!)
- Once you enter the anus, there is a lot of space before you get to the area where feces is kept (in the Sigmoid Colon), so if you're eating a fiber-filled diet, likely, there won't be a "mess." If you're worried about "mess," aka some poop, on the toy or wherever you're laying down, you can shower and use unscented soap or a scrub meant for your butt (like this one.) You can also use an enema bulb an hour or so before play — be sure to read the instructions and don't over douche. You may end up loosening up the feces in your sigmoid colon, making more of a mess than if you hadn't douched, to begin with.
- The tissue of your anus has its own microbiome (just like a gut or vagina). You can take probiotics that support the health of your butt's microbiome.
So, your mind is relaxed knowing that you can relax your external sphincter and that the more your mind is relaxed, the more your internal sphincter will relax (which creates more pleasure and less discomfort with penetration). I recommend trying an anal toy on your own first before trying it with a partner. If that sounds miserable to you — try it with a partner first! There is absolutely no reason to do it either way except for whichever feels most comfortable to you. If this is your first time with a new toy in a new location, you may feel some new things — and those are things you may prefer to feel alone or with someone else with you.
Did you pick your toy yet?
When deciding what type of anal toy you want to try first, there are a few things to consider. The two most common types of anal toys, especially for beginners, are anal beads and butt plugs. So, which one is right for you?
Anal beads are designed to stimulate inside the body AND body in and out. The beads are inserted one at a time and pulled out at varying speeds — depending on the sensation you're going for. The nerve endings around the sphincter are stimulated as you pull them out, and the beads create a massage-like feeling as they bump out one at a time. Typically the end of anal beads will have a circle to keep your finger secure at the bottom, ensuring they don't go up into your anus and into your digestive tract!
Butt plugs are designed to go in and stay in. In fact, some folks enjoy wearing a butt plug during their household chores or during other types of play. For example, you can masturbate and touch your clitoris or penis while having a butt plug inside you. They create a feeling/sensation of fullness rather than focusing on an in and out motion to create pleasure. The pressure of the fullness can help make mind-blowing pleasure and orgasms. A good rule of thumb is to start with a plug the size of your finger and go up one at a time. Just make sure your butt plug has a flared base. I mentioned above about anal beads not going up into your digestive tract — unlike the vaginal canal, the anal canal doesn't have an endpoint (the cervix for the vagina). So, if something goes up your butt — it's going up and up and away into the colon. This is why a flared base is so so so important.
Now you're prepped, excited, and ready — toy in hand. What's next? Lubricant. The anus is NOT self-lubricating (and if anyone tells you theirs is, they're lying to themselves or you!). Ideally, you want to use a lubricant specifically made for anal play — like Tush Cush! The two main things you want to pay attention to are what the lubricant is made out of (you can't use a silicone-based lubricant with a silicone toy) and making sure it's glycerin-free if you're a vulva owner. While you're only using the lube around your anus, it's not uncommon for some to sneak on over near the vulva and vagina, so it's best to avoid glycerin altogether.
How do you insert the toy?
The two easiest ways to insert an anal toy — are the "Captain Morgan" pose or laying on your back. Either way, find your anus with the toy's point and make little circles until you feel it open just a little bit. Use the toy to rub the lube on, around, and in your anus, and then slowly start to insert the toy. Go at your own pace and if you're with a partner, communicate, communicate, communicate.
Whether you are wearing a butt plug as a warm-up for penetrative anal intercourse, for increased pleasure while masturbating, or around the house (or out to dinner) for titillating pleasure, your comfort and enjoyment come first. Most wearable butt plugs, meaning a plug you can wear out or around, will be made of silicone — whereas some anal toys or butt plugs are made of glass or stainless steel. Every material will provide a different weight, pressure, sensation, and temperature — the combinations are endless.
When it's time to take it out, you can ask a partner to remove it (you can bend over or lay on your back or tummy), or if you're solo, get back in the "Captain Morgan" pose or bend over and wrap your arm behind you. Slowly grab the flared base and pull slowly. If you're in the bathroom, you can put the toy immediately into the sink and turn on the hot water, grabbing your toy cleaner. If you're in a room without running water, I recommend laying down a washcloth to set the toy on. That way, if there's a little bit of a mess, there's a place to put it — and either way, there's a landing spot for a lube-covered toy. Either way, you want to eventually get it to a sink and use hot water and a toy cleaner (like this one) to properly clean the toy. Then, it can go back into storage!
Be sure to clean your anus -- and around it (I recommend taking a shower), making sure it's nice and dry, and using some soothing cream meant for your booty. Making sure your toy and body are clean are really important and will ensure you can continue to play in good health. Now go have some fun, pleasurable fun with some anal toys!