Related: 7 Sex Positions That Are More Fun Than Doggy Style

Related: 7 Sex Positions That Are More Fun Than Doggy Style

Anal sex is undeniably popular these days. Data from PornHub has shown that since 2009, searches for anal sex have increased by 120 percent. Just look at pop culture if you need more proof: Will anyone ever forget the famous Kim K Paper Magazine cover that nearly broke the internet? Everyone is talking about butt stuff, declaring it the “it” thing, and even venturing to try it out for themselves.

But, for all its newfound acclaim, anal shouldn’t be taken so lightly. It’s serious business, so before you throw yourself into it, full-throttle, spur of the moment, take a pause first. There is a lot more involved than you may have even realized. And if you don’t go about it tactfully, anal can be painful, dangerous, or even traumatizing. In fact, many people can get turned off by anal sex forever because of a nasty first experience. And who wants that?

That said, it definitely doesn’t have to be awful. Anal sex has the potential be super hot, sexy, and incredibly enjoyable. You just need to take the right steps. It takes prep, communication, and lots and lots of lube to make anal enjoyable for all involved.

So when it comes to anal sex, what exactly can you do to make it easier? How can you make sure both you and your partner have a stellar anal experience? We asked Alicia Sinclair, a sex coach and CEO of the anal wellness brand, b-Vibe, to give us some of her best tips for easier anal.

Be prepared

You can’t just go sticking things into your anus. You will wind up in serious pain, and even put yourself at risk for injury.

Before you attempt anal sex for the first time (or if you haven’t done it in weeks/months), anal training might help. Sinclair says to start with fingers (you can use latex gloves, if you’d like) to work the anal muscles and then move up to small butt plugs. (Try this Nu Sensuelle vibrating mini butt plug from the Women’s Health boutique.)

You can also try beads, “[Choose] something with graduated sizes, like anal beads,” Says Sinclair. “This allows the user to start with the smallest beads and then works towards a larger beads as they become comfortable with the sensation. One good example is the Triplet Beads from b-Vibe, which have the added benefit of vibration-something that can actually help your muscles relax.”

The anus is not malleable in the same way as a vagina. It doesn’t naturally stretch and return to form. It needs to be prepared for larger objects to be inserted. How long your anal training will take depends on your body. Do not get impatient. You may need to play with toys for a few days, weeks, or even months until you’ve accustomed your anus to accepting penis-sized objects without serious discomfort.

Your safety and comfort should be your top priority. Go slow. The slower the better. “You should never go from zero to penis. It will mostly likely hurt and create a negative first experience,” Sinclair says.

Lube, lube, and more lube

Sinclair says her motto is, “slow and slippery.” The more lube the better. The anus doesn’t naturally lubricate like a vagina. It requires a lot of extra help to accomodate toys, plugs, beads, dildos, and penises.

“If you’re going to have penetrative anal sex and you’re not using a silicone sex toy, then a silicone lubricant is your best answer because silicone doesn’t absorb into the body. It stays very wet and slick for a long amount of time. Water-based lubes can dry out,” Sinclair tells us. “If you’re using a butt plug or a sex toy that’s silicone, then I would recommend a high-viscosity water based lubricant.”

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