Anal sex is still very much taboo! This doesn’t change the fact that between 6-40% of people report having tried some type of anal stimulation or anal sex. The truth is that everyone has an erogenous zone in their anus—males and females. Whether you think it feels good, are curious, or your partner is asking you to try it, here are some things you should know before engaging in anal sex!

1. Relax your mind and body! If this is your first time trying anal sex, spend a few minutes relaxing your mind and your entire body. You can also relax your anal muscles. To see what that feels like you can tighten them by squeezing your butt muscles and holding for a few minutes, and then releasing.

2. Use lots of lubrication! Unlike the vagina, the anus does not produce its own lubricant. The more lube you use, the more comfortable and enjoyable anal sex can be. Don’t forget to make sure you are using a water-based lubricant. Before going right to anal sex you may want to begin by using a finger to become comfortable with anal play.

3. Communicate! As with all type of sexual activity, verbal communication is a must! Talk to your partner about your fears or desires for anal sex. Continue to communicate when first trying anal sex by letting your partner know if it hurts or if you would like him to move more slowly or more quickly. It is important that you feel comfortable so don’t be afraid to communicate!

4. Women—you stay in control! Especially the first time you are trying anal penetration, it is good to be in control of your man’s penis so that you can guide it at a pace and pressure that you are comfortable with. Take your time in getting it in. This is also good because the lining of the anus is very sensitive, so pay attention to your body and stop if it is too painful. Some good beginning positions for when trying anal sex are doggie style and laying on your side with your partner behind you on his side.

5) Be safe! To minimize the risk of infection, be sure to clean your genitals before and after engaging in anal sex. In addition, do not go from the anus to the vagina as this can lead to infection or complications. Use a condom! If you are engaging in anal sex, discard that condom and put on a new one before penetrating the vagina to minimize the risk of infection.

A tip: There are many shared nerve endings between the walls of the vagina and the anus, so stimulating the vagina simultaneously can be extremely pleasurable. If you feel comfortable, insert something (perhaps a finger or a vibrator) into your vagina while you are engaging in anal play.

Don’t feel pressure to engage in anal play! And remember that if you try it and don’t like it, you don’t have to do it again. Some people don’t choose to try anal sex and some just don’t enjoy anal stimulation once they have tried it—both are OK! Everyone has different likes and dislikes. Love it or hate it, you are not alone.