Are oral and/or anal sex wrong?

Are oral and/or anal sex wrong? March 27, 2009
Is anal sex wrong? I asked my husband to do it once because I was curious and he was more than willing to oblige. We’ve done it a couple of times and I have enjoyed it about half the time, depending on my mood. We haven’t done it in a long time, but I was wondering if it was wrong to experiment to such an extent. Same with oral sex: I’ve heard two camps with one saying it’s absolutely wrong and not spiritually uplifting and therefore shouldn’t be done, while others say once you’re married anything is game. That would certainly include oral sex. So which is it?

This is such an excellent question and I appreciate your courage to ask it. There are many LDS couples who grapple with similar questions. I, myself, have gone twice to ask my bishop at the time what is appropriate sexually within the bounds of marriage. Both times I got a very similar answer: as long as you both consent to the behavior in question, as long as no one feels pressured to do something they are uncomfortable with, and as long as it is something not harmful to your bodies, then sexual lifestyle should be decided on by husband and wife. So here are some thoughts:

  1. It is a positive sign that you and your husband are comfortable exploring your sexuality together and trying new things. This allows for creativity, excitement and fun. However, just because you have tried something in the past, doesn’t mean it has to happen again, especially if someone has become uncomfortable with the process. You say for instance that you only enjoyed anal sex half of the time. It is important to discuss these feelings openly. And even if you become uncomfortable during the act it is OK to say “honey, I’d rather stop this now and try something else.”
  2. I am obviously very encouraging of couples exploring their sexual palates together. My concerns with anal sex are primarily related to the physical implications that come with it. This sexual act seems to cross into the bounds of behavior that can be harmful to your body. First of all there is no natural lubrication that is provided by the rectum which increases possibility of pain and of rectal damage. Infections due to the high number of infectious microorganisms not found elsewhere on the body can be more likely to occur. Some cases of anal cancer have been linked to the practice of anal sex. Physical damage to the anus and the rectum due to their vulnerability is likely as well as issues such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, rectal prolapse and loss of control over the bowels (Wikipedia). The physical implications are more common the more often anal sex is practiced. It is because of these issues relating to our belief in “care of body as a temple” that I would offer caution around the practice of anal sex.  I will also add that within the “sex therapy” community there are many professionals that both agree and disagree with the risks of anal sex that I mention above.
  3. I don’t want you or your husband to feel weird or inadequate because you found this act pleasurable. The anus is tighter than the vagina and therefore can yield more tactile pleasure for the penis. The prostate gland for males and the Skene’s glands for females can both be stimulated when there is anal penetration. This stimulation often feels good and can even mimic orgasm for both males and females. Understanding our anatomy can do a lot to relieve us from unecessary guilt or shame.
  4. Oral sex does not fall under the category of “harm to body.” The only problems correlated with oral sex are directly related to STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) which is true of most sexual behavior. My personal opinion is that this can be a special, personal and intimate way for both partners to enjoy each other if they are comfortable doing so.
  5. Individuals and couples can differ dramatically on what they consider to be correct or comfortable sexual behavior. Much of this has to do with the ways that we were raised, whether or not there is a history of sexual trauma, our self-esteem related to our body image, our own sexual histories and the histories of our partners. If partners find themselves in a situation where one is comfortable with certain behaviors but the other is not, it can be a difficult situation for both to maneuver. Pressuring or degrading a spouse should never be an option. I encourage couples to seek counseling from a marriage or sex therapist that is experienced in discussing sexual issues and that respects your values.
  6. I think that any sexual experience that is shared between husband and wife, where both are comfortable and enjoying each other, is in of itself spiritually uplifting. This is a large part of what Heavenly Father intends for our sexual relationship to offer us within marriage. The entire sexual act physically bonds us together. What a symbolic ritual to aid our emotional and spiritual bonds as well!
  7. Once again, I need to clarify that I do not in any way speak officially for the Church.
Note: On June 16, 2011 I changed the word “discourage” to “offer caution” at the end of section 2.  Ultimately, the decision whether or not to engage in anal sex should be up to the consenting and educated decision of married partners. 
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