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Anal Sex: From Stigma and Myths to Facts

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By , 17, Contributor Originally Published: July 31, 2017 Revised: January 3, 2019

It can be difficult to get real information about anal sex because there is so much stigma and misinformation about it. You have probably heard people say or talk as if anal sex is only for gay men or that it isn’t really sex and people who engage in it are still virgins, but the truth is a bit more complicated. To make matters worse, anal sex is seldom broached in health classes, except when talking about the fact that it is one of three types of sex in addition to oral and penile-vaginal sex. Because of the lack of information on anal sex, it is one of those topics that people are really curious about, so let’s debunk some myths about it and get to the facts.

There are two important things you need if you choose to engage in anal sex: condoms and lubrication.

Social Stigma and Myths

There is so much confusion and controversy surrounding anal sex, and the topic can be shameful for many people. If a guy says he enjoys being penetrated, he may be called gay, whether he identifies that way or not. If a woman enjoys anal penetration, she may fear being judged as well. Anal sex is often associated with gay male couples, and fear of gay people, or what’s called “homophobia,” means that some people consider anal sex “wrong” or “dirtier” than other sex acts. It’s important to note that no sex act is exclusive to any sexual orientation. Anal sex isn’t “gay sex.” Heterosexual and same-sex couples alike can engage in, enjoy or dislike anal sex. People of different sexual orientations can choose to engage in different sexual behaviors.

Heterosexual couples who intend to abstain from sex may engage in anal sex thinking it isn’t “real sex” since it doesn’t involve penetrating the vagina. Anal sex is also…sex! The idea that a couple can avoid having sex by only having anal intercourse is misinformed. Because of this idea that anal sex isn’t “true sex,” couples may feel like they don’t need to use condoms and that there isn’t the same risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that there is with vaginal intercourse. This simply isn’t true.

It’s important that we work to break down the stigma regarding anal sex so teens can get the facts: both heterosexual and gay couples may choose to have anal sex and anal sex is a sexual behavior that poses risks for STDS, which can be minimized by practicing safer sex.

The Facts

There are two important things you need if you choose to engage in anal sex: condoms and lubrication. Unlike the vagina, the anus does not naturally lubricate itself, so it’s important that you use a water-based lubricant in order to prevent tearing and pain. Similarly, because the anus tears easily, this can make it more prone to infection. STDs can be spread through anal sex, but the correct use of a condom can significantly reduce risk. Using condoms and lubricant should make anal sex more pleasurable and safe.

Finally, taking part in any sex act should always be safe and consensual—and you shouldn’t feel ashamed of your desires! It can feel overwhelming to tell your partner what you want, especially when it’s something like anal sex, which is often not discussed in general. But it’s ideal to talk about anything new before trying it. Your partner should be open to communication and willing to take steps to ensure a safe and positive experience that you’re both comfortable with.

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