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Michael’s (26) question:How “deep” can a penis or toy go into the anus, without danger/damage to the anus? And if you tear the walls of the anus, is it dangerous and sore?

Dr Dick’s response
To answer your question I need to tackle this from different sides:

  • Learn about the shape of your rectum. The depth of anus is not that straight forward. It is not as simple as saying 15cm because the whole alimentary canal consists of (in a southerly direction) rectum, anal canal, and then the anus. The rectum is not straight, after the short anal canal, the rectum tilts (sometimes as much as 90 degrees) toward the front of the body. Then, after a few centimetres, it curves towards the front of the body again. A useful tip here is to learn about the shape of your rectum by gently inserting your finger or a soft object (make sure that it is a safe object, like a dildo with a flared base – having a flared base will help to ensure that the dildo does not slip completely inside your rectum should you lose your grip) into your anus, and then explore your rectum by probing in different angles. Concentrate on how this feels. By exploring yourself, you will gain firsthand knowledge about what feels ok and what is not. For example, depending on the direction of the penis in the anus, shorter or deeper penetrations may be acceptable. As such, penetrating deeply in a direction towards the back of the body or straight up might not be advisable, given the shape of the rectum.
  • It is all in the technique. Many gay men think that pleasure is derived from hard thrusts or deep penetrations. But this is not necessarily true. The anal region and rectum has an abundance of nerve endings, with the highest concentration at the opening of the anus (a pleasure point). Thereafter, the anus responds mostly to feelings of pressure or fullness. Putting pressure on the ventral wall (towards the front of the body), a few centimetres in, will stimulate the prostate gland (a walnut shaped gland situated behind the pubic bone). Try to locate this spot by gently inserting your finger into your anus and then point your finger towards the front of your body. If stimulated, it should intensify your pleasure when climaxing. Thus, most of your pleasure will be derived from the opening of the anus and the prostate gland, which does not require any full thrusts or deep penetration.
  • Know about the risks. The main function of the rectum is to act as a passageway for faeces. Faeces is not normally stored in the rectum unless you are about to have a bowel movement. However, small amounts may be remain in the rectum in between movements. It is for this reason that it is recommended that we use condoms during anal intercourse (to minimise the risk of getting Hepatitis B for example). In addition, the lining in the rectum is very thin, not very elasticated, and can rip very easily. It is therefore VERY IMPORTANT that you 1) always practise safer sex using condoms correctly and consistently, and 2) limit the amount of stress placed on the rectum by taking it easy, cutting your fingernails short, and using plenty of water-based lubrication. Reckless or rough anal sex may result in serious damage: a tear in the lining of the rectum or an anal fissure. After repeated damage, the risk of fecal incontinence becomes significant.