My boyfriend and I have recently started exploring anal play. We’re starting small with just his finger. We use plenty of lube and it goes in pretty easily and isn’t painful at all, but almost every time we’ve done anal play, I’ve bled the next day and been very sore. When I use soap down there it’s very painful! I can’t seem to figure it out. Any suggestions?
You’re off to a great start with your anal explorations with your small penetrative objects, slow pace, and lots of lube (no one’s anus naturally self-lubricates so slather on the slick stuff! My favorite is Sliquid Sassy). So what’s with the next-day butt rut?
First, I hope you’re not drinking, drugging, or using things like poppers or anesthetic creams like Anal-Eaze to numb your bum during sex. Substance use lessens your ability to feel pain (and, ahem pleasure) and to consent to sex. Further, products like Anal-Eaze cash in on our cultural impatience and lack of pleasure-based sex education to sell us on the ideas that anal sex is “supposed to hurt” (it isn’t), that you should do it now and deal with the pain later, and that the purpose of anal sex is to pleasure the penetrating partner so just numb out the receptive partner because “whatever their pleasure doesn’t matter.”
Anesthetic products do exactly the opposite of promoting pleasure — they cut out sensation entirely, leaving us with an anal hangover the next day like this pain and bleeding you mention. This is sex, not the dentist. You should want to feel it and if you don’t want to feel it then you shouldn’t be doing it.
If you’re being a smart-ass-lover and you’re taking it slow, using small penetratives, lubing it up, and not using numbing products, then I’m left wondering if you’ve got a case of Hemmy-Hiney. Hemorrhoids, or “hemmies” as I like to infantilize them, are essentially cute little ass-vein balloons. Technically, they’re protrusions that occur when the veins lining the rectum and anus become swollen and distended either from too much pressure or irritation. When hemorrhoids start screwing up your sweet, sweet anal-lovin, you’ve got a case of the Hemmy-Hiney. Irritating, yes, but not a reason to pull the (butt)plug just yet.
About three-quarters of adults will battle hemorrhoids at some point. They’re generally harmless and easily treatable. Causes include pregnancy, too much shitting or sitting and — you guessed it — anal intercourse. Anal sex can easily irritate our sensitive tushy tissues with all that poking, prodding, and pressure no matter how liberal we are with the lube. The larger your penetrative object, the more likely hemorrhoids can develop, but it doesn’t always take much to set them off.
Hemorrhoid symptoms include some you’ve mentioned like bleeding (with or without accompanying pain), itching and irritation, and general discomfort. Some people choose to get their hemmies medically removed and others play anally according to their hemmy’s current mood (most hemorrhoids have little flare-ups, making anal sex a little painful, but are pleasantly dormant the rest of the time).
Home hemmy remedies include applying an ice-pack, taking a Sitz bath, or using witch hazel wipes which naturally relieve itching, pain and swelling. Some friends who knew exactly what to get their local sex columnist for the holidays gifted me Zum Bum: Bidet in a Bottle which is a refreshing little spray containing witch hazel, essential oils and vegetable glycerin (that’s it!) that you spritz on your post-pooping TP for a rear-freshing recharge. I love it! What I recommend you do before any of this, BHB, is point your naked booty towards a full-length mirror, bend over, and take a look. Can you see any cute little ass-vein balloons? Even if you can’t, hemorrhoids can be internal or external so I also recommend you see your doctor, mostly because I’m not a doctor, and because anal bleeding can be a sign of something more serious. Also, I can’t exactly see your anus from here so this is all guesswork.•
Yana Tallon-Hicks is a pleasure-positive sex educator and writer living in the Pioneer Valley. She has a website bursting with sex advice, resources, and workshops at yanatallonhicks.com.