Ok, so you're ready to start experimenting with booty play. You're not alone. Within the past two decades, more people in both the United States and the United Kingdom are beginning to experiment with anal sex, according to the Journal of the American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association.
There are several reasons why people are going for some bum fun. One of them: for pleasure. Anal can feel totally different from vaginal sex (in a good way) and it's always exciting to try something new in bed. There's also the the myth that you can't get pregnant from anal, which can put both parties involved at ease.
Here's a throwback to your sex-ed class: You probably (ahem, hopefully) learned that penis-in-vagina sex equals babies. Anal probably wasn't included in the lesson plan...which leaves the question: Can you get pregnant from anal sex?
Well, the answer is complicated, and anal sex, like all kinds of sex, still carries risks, so it's important to go in knowing that you won't be 100 percent protected from everything. That doesn't mean you shouldn't get for it, though. Just make sure you're informed.
So, here's what you need to know about anal sex and pregnancy.
Well...can you get pregnant from anal sex?
Okay, not technically. Your anus isn’t connected to your reproductive organs, so anal sex wouldn’t directly lead to a baby.
But at the same time...never say never. The vaginal and rectal openings are pretty close to each other, so it's definitely a possibility that some semen could slip into the vagina, says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine.
“You’re not going to get a high concentration [of sperm], but you only need one sperm to get pregnant,” Dr. Minkin says. So while it’s very rare to get pregnant from anal, using it as a means of birth control is not 100 percent effective. Sorry.
In fact, about 1 in 200 women reported that they got pregnant without having vaginal sex, according to a survey published in the British Medical Journal, and though the report doesn't confirm exactly how these women ended up pregnant, the pregnancies were likely the result of sperm somehow getting into the vagina unexpectedly. This may have occurred through sperm leaking from the anus into the vagina. Again, this is super rare, but hey, you never know.
It's also totally possible to get pregnant even if your partner ejaculates in your anus but they began having sex in your vagina (you can't forget about pre-cum, the semen that comes out of the penis before ejaculation). It might not seem like enough, but it can result in pregnancy, even if you switch to anal for the big O.
So you're saying I should use condoms even during anal sex?
Yes, one million percent. Dr. Minkin explains that while you want to use a condom to prevent pregnancy, it's also a smart move in general because you’re at an even greater risk of STDs when having anal sex.
“The lining of the anus if not designated to fight off infections,” Dr. Minkin explains. “Vaginal tissue in premenopausal women can do a much better job at fighting this off, as the vaginal lining is much tougher.”
Women who had unprotected anal sex were 2.6 times as likely as women who had only unprotected vaginal sex and 4.2 times as likely as women who had neither unprotected anal nor unprotected vaginal sex to report an STD diagnosis, found a study in The American Journal of Public Health. So, wearing condoms during anal is definitely important and can lower your risk of STDs.
It's also a helpful practice if you're planning on switching from anal to vaginal sex at any point during your session. The condom keeps the penis clean, and when you're ready to switch, changing to a new condom ensures you're keeping bacteria from your rectum out of your vagina. “The vagina has bacteria as well, but the rectum has even more, so you’re just adding more bacteria to the vagina if you switch back and forth without changing condoms or cleaning the penis,” Dr. Minkin says. Exposing your vagina to anal bacteria can lead to infections.
And while you're at it, don't skip out on the lube for anal sex: “If you don’t use it, you’ll have more tissue pulling apart, and if you have a break in skin, you’re even more vulnerable to infection,” Dr. Minkin explains.
The bottom line: There's an extremely small chance of pregnancy from unprotected anal sex, but the real risk from anal sex is getting an STD, so remember to use a condom.