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These days, more and more people are interested in anal pleasuring. Nearly 20 years ago, when the last nationally representative study of sexual behavior in the US was conducted, only about 20 to 25% of women and men had engaged in anal sex. But in 2009, according to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, as many as 40% to 45% of women and men in some age groups reported having engaged in it. However, even with its increased prevalence, very little information from trusted sources is available about anal play, particularly heterosexual anal sex, and people who try anal activity—even if only on occasion— deserve to know how to make it safer, more comfortable and, of course, more pleasurable.

Anal play is more than just intercourse. It can involve fingering, licking, and toys. It’s fantasy and role play. It’s (possibly) G-spot stimulation and, for men who are on the receiving end, it’s (quite often) prostate stimulation. Getting involved in anal play can be a way to try something new with a lover. This guide covers everything a beginner to butt play will need, from choosing your first tube of lube to advanced sexual positions such as “bent spoon,” “wheel-barrow” and “Superman.” But more than just technique, this guide also offers suggestions about how to bring up anal sex with your partner and how to make your adventures as safe as possible.

Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., M.P.H. is a Research Scientist and Associate Director of The Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction. Her research is largely focused on women’s and men’s sexual function, sexual pleasure and enhancement. She is also a widely read sex columnist, the creator of and author of Because It Feels Good: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.

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