The Pleasure Principle is a series for Sexual Health Awareness Month spotlighting various sexual trends and uncovering information about sexual pleasure inside and outside the bedroom.
It’s time to be transparent about anal play, and no, we’re not talking about E.U.’s legendary 1988 Da’ Butt song. Instead, we’re referencing a new sexual technique in the bedroom that’s quickly becoming prominent, given how much it surprisingly arouses women. A 2022 study surveyed more than 3,000 women from ages 18-93, and 40% found pleasure in anal play, and the results revealed that it’s more about touch than penetration.
A stark difference from the vaginal “Shallowing” trend we recently reported on is the Surfacing technique focuses on stimulating the outside of the anus sphincter; yes, you read that right. The sphincter has a host of nerve endings, more specifically, the pudendal nerve that connects to the dorsal nerve of the clitoris and the dorsal nerve of the penis. These connections are why men and women can experience intense pleasure from anal play. It’s important to note that while surfacing is a trend that explores anal movement, it’s not exactly anal penetration, as Surfacing includes anal play only one to two inches deep in the rectum. However, this trend can be a good entry point to anal sex one day if you are up for it.
As anal play less taboo, more women are willing to divorce themselves from longstanding “respectable” practices when it comes to seemingly out-of-the-box techniques in the bedroom. The researchers behind the 2022 study, Dr. Christiana von Hippel, research advisor at sex research company For Goodness Sake, and Dr. Devon J. Hensel, professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine, found that women are also interested in other anal sex acts outside of Surfacing, Anal Pairing, where one of the above is done at the same time as other stimulation, like massaging the clitoris or vaginal penetration.
Additionally, forty percent of women found this technique more pleasurable, noting that anal play “feels profoundly intimate and emotional.” Who knew? Despite media messaging being wholly traditional regarding anal sex or simply nonexistent for cisgender women, it’s clear there’s a specific interest, and we need to begin discussing it more.
Within the study, women noted their feelings about the technique, how it seems forbidden due to the media’s portrayal, and how it makes them more curious about experiencing the unique physical sensation. “It’s a tingly, electric, focused pleasure. And there’s a kind of forbidden quality that makes it feel intimate and primal,” one interviewee said.
Setting the tone by developing language for your sexual desires and kinks can be empowering despite what mainstream society says or thinks.
“Language for knowing how and for what kinds of anal touch to ask a partner may be especially important since most prevalent forms of touch reported as pleasurable for women were done by a partner’s finger or penis,” the researchers noted.
They continued, “The wide age range shows that many people keep exploring their sexualities throughout their lifetimes, thus, there is a wider anal sexual repertoire that women enjoy in everyday life than has been named in scientific literature, or that is often discussed openly in society.”