Holesome fun

How to Have Hot Butt Sex—Without Actually Putting Anything in Your Butt

 You don’t have to go all the way inside to reap the huge pleasures of ass play.
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When most people think of anal sex, they think of penetration…but you actually don’t have to go inside an ass to make it feel really, really good. The anal opening, a.k.a. your butthole, is rich in nerve endings, just like any other erogenous zone—so there are plenty of methods of enjoying it from the outside! (Rim jobs, anyone?) If you’re eager to knock at the back door, here’s how to make it feel amazing. 

If you want to involve a partner in butt play, talk it through first—and try it on your own.

If you’ve never tried butt stuff with a partner, initiate a conversation about it outside of a sexual context, at a time when you can both devote your full attention to the chat. “Be open about your desires and use ‘I statements,’” Janet Brito, PhD, an AASECT-certified sex therapist and founder of The Sexual Health School, tells SELF. You might go with something like, “I’ve been curious about anal play and would love to try it with you,” which is both direct and warm. “Then share what activities you want to engage in,” Dr. Brito says, and invite your partner to share their feelings too.

For some people, the taboo associated with butt stuff can make it feel embarrassing, even just to talk about. “It’s perfectly normal to feel bad about sexual taboos because of societal norms,” Dr. Brito says. But there’s nothing wrong with touching butts! If shame is getting in your way (or if your partner is interested in anal play, but struggling with shame), Dr. Brito suggests “naming it to tame it,” meaning, recognizing negative thoughts of this kind for what they are, rather than trying to avoid them. “Once you’re aware of what the shame is about, you can work on self-acceptance,” she says.

Whether you’re hoping to give or receive ass action: It can be enlightening (and hot as hell) to externally stimulate your own ass privately before experimenting with a partner. That way you can figure out what your body likes and/or practice getting up close and personal with someone else’s butthole. It’s also just an exciting way to change up your masturbation routine, whether or not you ever bring anal play into partnered sex. 

If your partner isn’t open to butt stuff for whatever reason, don’t push back on their boundaries—you can always take matters into your own hands (or use a sex toy)! A lot of the ideas we’ll discuss here can be just as fun solo.

Stroke and caress with your hands.

You don’t have to buy any fancy toys for ass play, Tristan Taormino, author of The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women, tells SELF. “This is a [good] time to use one of our best sex organs—our hands,” she says. Before you get started, make sure they’re clean. Get into a comfortable position and use the pads of your fingers to gently rub around the anal opening—you can use a little lube to help your fingers glide across the skin as you stroke and apply pressure. (Be extra careful if you have long nails so you don’t scratch the butt’s delicate tissue.) A 2022 study published in PLOS One called this method “anal surfacing,” and 40% of people surveyed said they enjoyed it. 

You can do anal surfacing on its own or combine it with genital stimulation, or “anal pairing.” Nearly 40% of more than 3,000 people PLOS One surveyed said anal pairing also enhanced other sex acts, so consider adding butt stimulation to the techniques that you know make you (or your partner) feel incredible.

Try rubbing your or your partner’s perineum—a.k.a. the area between the butthole and genitals—to wake up the pudendal nerves, which extend from the bottom of the spine to your pelvis and provide sensation to the pelvic region. If you or your partner have a prostate, which helps produce semen and serves as a pleasure center, stroking or gently pressing the perineum can also indirectly stimulate the walnut-sized, nerve-rich gland. Whatever you choose: Don’t forget to wash your hands when you’re done too.

Use a vibrator.

If you’re looking for even more intensity—or if you just like variety!—break out a vibrator. “External vibration feels good against the anal opening because the anus is filled with nerve endings,” Matthew Lachman, LPCC, an AASECT-certified sex therapist, tells SELF. He recommends using silicone vibes for this, since they’re nonporous and won’t harbor bacteria—just make sure you clean your toys after each use with mild, fragrance-free soap.

wand vibrator can feel especially fantastic on your butt, Taormino explains, since this type often covers a larger amount of skin than many other toys. “That’s going to really electrify the whole area,” she says. Don’t skip the lube, even when you’re sticking with external play—it will help you maneuver your vibrator back and forth, up and down, or in small circles. If you do use a silicone toy, opt for water-based lube to avoid damaging it.

A note: If you are experimenting with internal butt vibration in addition to loving up the outside, stay away from phallus-shaped or cylindrical toys. Choose a vibrating butt plug with, crucially, a flared base. You have two anal sphincters, Lachman explains, but you can’t control the powerful suction of the one deeper inside your body. “If your toy doesn’t have a flared base, it can easily travel up your rectum and into your colon,” Lachman says. Use lube with all internal anal toys: Since butts don’t self-lubricate and are filled with delicate tissue, dry penetration can lead to tears and abrasions, which increase the transmission risk of some STIs.

One more safety tip: It’s possible to transfer bacteria from your anus to other areas, per Planned Parenthood, which can lead to infections like vaginitis, so if you’re using a toy against (or in) your butt, don’t use that same toy in or against another orifice until you’ve washed it.

Give or get a rim job.

Anilingus, or rimming, is when a person uses their mouth to stimulate a partner’s ass, which some people absolutely love. “To me, it feels as good as cunnilingus,” Taormino says.

You don’t have to do anything elaborate to “clean up” before rimming, but you should ensure that your crack is adequately washed: You can spread and contract parasites, bacteria, and viruses through “fecal-oral” transmission. Taormino recommends cleaning the outside of your butt with gentle soap in the shower or using a flushable wipe to ensure that your crack is fresh and free of any toilet paper debris.

It’s possible to contract STIs through rimming, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes, so review safer sex practices with your partner beforehand. If you opt for a barrier method to lower your STI risk (or because you’re worried about taste or cleanliness), you can use a dental dam, a thin, square-shaped piece of latex or polyurethane that can be placed on the anal opening. Look for flavored options if you’re put off by the material’s taste. If you want more coverage than a dental dam provides, try Lorals—stretchy, single-use, latex underwear that are FDA-approved for STI protection. Lorals fit people whose waist and hip measurements fall between 26 and 51 inches—a.k.a. a women’s average size 4 to a women’s size 22 (the company hopes to extend sizing options in the future). 

If you’re rimming without a barrier, the recipient may be considering shaving their butt area. “Removal of the hair allows more access to the nerve endings of the anus,” according to Lachman. However: “There are some risks with shaving, like ingrown hairs, infection, and irritation. So I say leave the hair unless you think it will totally remove you from the experience,” he says. If you choose to shave, check whether you’re seeing or feeling anything uncomfortable or unusual after. As long as everything seems normal post-shave, Lachman says you’re good to go. If you notice cuts or irritation, save your rimming session for another day: Broken skin increases the risk of contracting STIs, Planned Parenthood notes.

In terms of positions…and what to actually do when mouth meets butt: Some receivers like to lie on their backs. They might open their cheeks with their hands or have their partner spread them. Others prefer to receive rim jobs while on their hands and knees. The giver can lap with their tongue, lick in circles, and experiment with pressure and rhythm. You and your partner should be verbally checking in throughout—the giver might need some direction (e.g., “A little softer,” or “More of that, please!”). 

Try genital-to-butt grinding.

Stimulating a partner’s asshole with your genitals (or vice versa) can be a kinetic, hot experience for everyone involved, no matter what body parts you’re working with. Grinding might feel similar to rimming for the receiver—their butthole is just experiencing a different set of lips than those on a mouth. And it has the additional benefit of genital stimulation for the giver. 

You may want to use barriers while grinding, since STIs like HPV, genital herpes, and syphilis can spread through genital-to-anal contact. The receiver can put on a dental dam, but since a lot of movement will be happening, it might be easier for one partner to wear Lorals, if possible.

A person with a penis or dildo can rub the tip against their partner’s butthole—that’s pretty easy to accomplish! Start with gentle contact and ask if your partner would like to build up pressure from there. Lube makes this feel even smoother and sexier. 

A person with a vulva can rub their genitals against an anus too—it just takes some maneuvering, and—you guessed it!—plenty of lube. “The receiver should [lie] on their stomach and spread their cheeks [with their hands],” Taormino explains. “The giver lubes up their vulva, climbs on top of their partner, and rubs their vulva against their partner’s anal opening.” The receiver can lie still and enjoy the ride, or they can reach down and touch their genitals to enjoy that sweet, sweet anal pairing we discussed earlier. 

Grinding might not be possible or pleasurable for everyone. All of our bodies fit together differently, and givers with back pain might not feel comfortable leaning over and grinding—but it’s worth trying once (or more!).

If you’re enjoying external anal sex: Consider making the leap to penetration.

You can enjoy external anal stimulation on its own without any penetration at all, ever, full end stop! But if you’re inspired to go inside, your external stimulation skills will help make it feel phenomenal. “Anal penetration is all about the warm-up—you really have to put time into romancing the ass,” Taormino says. 

Knowing how to make an ass feel good from the outside can help you do the same within. “We want our bodies to feel loose and free to welcome objects into them,” Lachman explains. “External stimulation taps into those nerve endings, which leads to relaxation and arousal.”

If you’d like to give it a try, here’s SELF’s guide to penetrative anal sex. If anal penetration isn’t for you, that’s fine! There are plenty of other ways to experience sexual pleasure—including on the outside of your butt. “External stimulation is an amazing sexual activity in and of itself,” Taormino says. So wash your hands, spread those cheeks, and experience the vast pleasures afforded by touching your butt.