Exploring anal: a guide for people with vulvas

Exploring anal: a guide for people with vulvas

To celebrate our new Normal x Abbie Chatfield modular butt plug collab, Option A, we’re talking everything anal. Explore Option A and all of our guides to anal right here!


People with vulvas can have some of the most intense orgasms during anal play. Many say that anal stimulation is the thing that sends them over the edge, it feels like a full-body orgasm or as Abbie Chatfield puts it; butt plugs make you feel like you have a 'bionic pussy', and honestly - sign us up. 


It's fun, feels good and can be some of the best sex of your life. 


In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about anal: from anatomy basics, to safety tips, to lube must-haves and everything else in between.


(Although the information in this article is relevant for everyone, we’ve written this for people with vulvas. If you have a penis, you might find this article more useful.)



First things first: let’s talk basic anatomy.


We do a deeper dive into anal anatomy here, but in a nutshell, the anus is connected to the sphincter (two small, tight, ring-like muscles that keep it closed) and then to the rectum and colon.


The anus is packed with thousands of hypersensitive nerve endings, it can feel really good when stimulated. 


Although the vulva is nearby, the anus is not a part of the reproductive system and these two parts of our body function separately.


However, the nerve endings in the clitoris and vulva are anatomically very close to the anus, which may mean that the entire area can be sensitive and feel pleasurable when stimulated. There is also a relatively thin piece of muscular tissue separating the vagina from the anus, which some say also feels good when stimulated from the inside. 


NORMAL's sex educator Georgia also highlights the pudendal nerve, which runs through the perineum—the skin between the anus and the vulva—as a source of pleasure. 


“The perineal sponge, which is also known as the ‘gooch’ or the perineum, has an internal network of erectile tissue. So any penetration or stimulation here can also be indirectly stimulating the vagina, but also the internal network of the clitoris as well.”


If you’re totally unfamiliar with anal anatomy but you’re keen to learn more, why not get up close and personal with yourself? Using a small mirror or even just your hands, explore the area and get to know this part of your body.


If you want to explore anal pleasure solo, you might try:


  • Massaging the butt. You can try this with a partner, but it’s super fun solo as well. Using massage oil or body lotion, gently rub and squeeze the upper thighs and bum cheeks. See what kind of touches feel good here: little pats? Slow strokes? Gentle pinches? It’s your body—do what feels good for you. 


  • Touching the anus itself. (Only use lube for this, because massage oil and body lotion shouldn’t be used directly on the skin of the anus or vulva.) If you’re curious, get up close and personal with your anus and try touching, tapping, or gently stroking the hole. See what feels good, and go with it—and remember that if penetration doesn’t appeal, you don’t need to go any further than the outside.


  • Using toys. If you have a favourite vibrator, switch it on and see how it feels on your thighs, bum, and anus. Take note of what speeds and vibrations feel good for you! Remember that if you’re going to use a toy inside your anus, it should always have a flared base to help with retrieval. 


  • Penetration. We maintain that penetration is only a small part of anal play, but if you want to explore it solo, you can! Apply a lot of lube to a small toy or your finger, and gently press in to the anus. It’s normal for this to feel unusual or even a tiny bit uncomfortable at first, but if you feel any pain or serious discomfort, don’t go any further.


When we think about the anus and how we can explore it for pleasure, it’s common to think of anal sex or anal penetration. 


Porn, mainstream media, and pop culture often imagine this as hard and fast penetration that feels good for the penetrator but feels painful for the receiver. Anal penetration generally shouldn’t be painful—but more on that in a minute. 


In the meantime, you might feel reassured to know that there’s a whole world of anal pleasure out there, and penetration is only a small part of it!


“Obviously anal sex still feels a little bit taboo,” says Abbie, “But it also can be some of the best full-body pleasure any of us can experience.”



How much lube is enough? To quote from Mean Girls, the limit does not exist. Unlike the vagina, the anus is not naturally self-lubricating, so lube is necessary to prevent tearing and chafing the delicate skin of the anus. Add some, add a bit more, and then add some extra. 


Finally, let's bust some common myths. 


Again, perhaps due to the influence of porn, media, and pop culture, there are a ton of myths around anal.


Like—will anal permanently loosen the muscles down there? Can you get pregnant? And what about STIs?


We’re going to debunk the major ones.


Myth: you’re more likely to get STIs from anal.


Reality: no more or less likely than from other types of sex.


STIs such as herpes, syphilis, gonorrhoea, and HIV (just to name a few) can be contracted during anal sex, just like they can be contracted during any other type of sex. If you haven’t had ‘the STI talk’ with your partner yet, we recommend wearing a condom for penetration and using a dental dam for rimming to reduce the chances of STI transmission.



Myth: if you have a lot of anal sex, your anal muscles will get ‘loose’.


Reality: not true!


This is one of those urban legends that’s been around forever, and we’re happy to say it isn’t true. A lot of anal sex won’t loosen the muscles down there, just like a lot of vaginal sex won’t loosen the vagina. Remember that your anus is made to open and close regularly—it has to do this when we use the toilet! The muscles there are strong, and will easily return to their regular shape and size.


Myth: anal only feels good for the penetrator, not the receiver.


Reality: totally false!


Of course, if you’re someone who doesn’t like anal, we’re not about to try to convince you to try it again and see if you like it. But if you’re nervous about anal because of the myth that it won’t feel good—we say, give it a go! Start solo first so you can explore your own body and follow what feels good. Anal can be incredibly pleasurable for the receiver, and many people even report having orgasms from anal play or penetration. 

“There’s a lot you can do to have pleasurable anal sex,” says Abbie, “Like using lube, warming up, using a vibrating butt plug…the bottom line is, sex should never include unwanted pain.”

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