When we started talking to Christians about sex in 1997, anal sex was almost never mentioned. Today it is a fairly common topic/question.
Frankly, I would like to say anal sex is sin and leave it there, but I have one little problem with saying that: I cannot find it in the Bible. I could probably paste together some out of context bits of Scripture to “prove” it is wrong, but I am allergic to that kind of thing. We have often said the burden of proof is on the one who wants to add to God’s rules and we abide by that even when we do not like it.
Many blame porn for the increased popularity of anal sex, and this seems to be valid. While heterosexual anal intercourse is hardly new (there are artistic representations going back to 300 AD), it has become far more common in the last few decades; closely following an increase of anal sex in porn. I have no doubt porn has made anal sex more popular, but that does not make it wrong. Porn includes sex acts that are not wrong (when done by husband and wife) so being done in porn does not make it wrong.
One interesting side note on porn and anal sex – according to Craig Gross, founder of XXXchurch.com, porn actresses are paid twice as much for doing anal intercourse as for vaginal. Does that mean they are less willing to do anal for some reason? Makes you wonder.
“Not sin” and “okay” are two different things… and “good” is still another matter.
Many women who find the idea gross are being pushed to try anal sex and that seems unloving and selfish. Porn and society have convinced many men anal sex is the ultimate, and they feel cheated if their wife says no. Some talk about anal sex as a gift, a way of proving your love for your man. Ladies, if he needs you to do anal to believe you love him, he needs help!
It is very difficult to find good information on how harmful anal sex might be. Because the act is associated with homosexuality, speaking against it can bring on the wrath of “pro-gay” groups. Several medical articles dealing with anal sex have been removed from the Internet and at least one was confirmed to be because of such protests. Well known doctors who have spoken out have been blasted. Ideology has trumped science, making accurate information difficult to get if it does not pass muster.
The short answer is yes, anal sex can cause damage. It can cause or aggravate hemorrhoids, anal fissures (tears), an anal fistula (a tunnel from the anus to some other part of the body, most commonly exiting the body a short distance from the anus), or cause rectal prolapse (a part of the rectum slides out of place). How commonly anal sex causes these is not known. All of these can occur for other reasons and those who suffer from them are unlikely to volunteer to their doctor they engage in anal sex.
Those who promote anal sex insist that all the problems can be avoided by “doing it right,” but they offer nothing to support that claim.
A 1993 British study1 compared 40 homosexual men who received anal sex with 18 heterosexual men. Thirty-five percent of the homosexual group suffered regular anal incontinence, while only 6% of the heterosexual men had the same problem. This shows a clear problem, but it cannot be directly applied to women. Homosexual men generally have far more anal sex than heterosexual couples, which would make their risk greater. However, men are usually larger than women, including their rectum and anus, so women would be more easily damaged. There are claims2 the incidence of anal fissures in women at college clinics has been rising and that anal sex is the cause. While many will confirm they have seen this, no one has done a study.
Most of the research on the danger of anal sex is focused on STDs, which are far more easily contracted through anal sex than other sex acts. Given what a big problem STDs are, it is understandable that other problems with anal sex are not being studied.
Contamination is another problem. The bacteria in the rectum can cause problems, particularly if they make their way to the vagina. Unless a condom is used, the penis should be thoroughly washed immediately after being withdrawn from the anus.
Another possible problem is damage to rectal tissues from lubricants3. The rectum is more sensitive than the vagina and more absorbent. Just because something is safe for the vagina does not mean it is safe for the rectum.
The bottom line is there is a risk, but no one can say how great a risk.
Those who are in favor of anal sex are fond of saying “If it hurts, you’re doing it wrong.” Their mantra is “go slow and use a lot of lube and it will be fine.” However, some women never get past the pain. One well-done study4 of women who had tried anal sex more than once found that 9% of the women had extreme pain with every attempt. Those who avoid extreme pain may still suffer lesser amounts of pain. Many women who have tried anal repeatedly have never been able to do it without discomfort.
Yes, some do and some say they climax from it (often with added clitoral stimulation). The surveys I could find on this are Internet or magazine surveys, so they are iffy at best. Rates of women who found anal at least somewhat enjoyable range from 5% to 40%. Even on surveys where the “like” rate was high, at least half the women did not like it and most surveys found the dislike rates higher. Clearly, a majority of women do not enjoy anal sex.
How many heterosexuals are engaging in anal sex? The following chart shows how many men and woman, by age, say they have engaged in heterosexual anal sex in the year prior to answering a survey5:
There is far more anal sex among younger individuals, with a peak for men at 25-29 and for women at 30-39. Studies that ask if people have ever in their life engaged in anal sex find rates for those over 45 are lower than for younger individuals and more rare with greater age. This means anal sex is not something people do when they are young then give up; rather it is being done more often now than in the past.
♦ You cannot call anal sex sin without playing loose with the Bible.
♦ Some women enjoy it, but most do not.
♦ Some women cannot do it without physical discomfort – or worse.
A final word for men
Insisting on anal sex when your wife does not want to do it is the opposite of love, and asking for it after she has tried it and rejected it is even worse. Unlike oral sex, there is some real potential harm and many women cannot “learn to enjoy it.”
If you feel cheated because your wife will not have anal sex with you, I would suggest you have been brainwashed by porn or by a culture that is brainwashed by porn.
1 J R Soc Med. 1993 March; 86(3): 144–147. http://1.usa.gov/1cQ8jUo
2 Smells like teen spirit but skanky sex is next on list – Books – Entertainment http://bit.ly/1adR12L
3 Heterosexual Anal Sexuality and Anal Sex Behaviors: A Review http://bit.ly/1dNBdrp
4 Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy Volume 37, Issue 5, 2011 http://bit.ly/1aUpNkw
5 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior http://bit.ly/1cQ4ajr
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