I’d like to take responsibility and apologize for the original post I wrote in March of 2009 regarding the act of anal sex: Are Oral and/or Anal Sex Wrong?. I was asked if it was appropriate behavior within the bounds of marriage. Although I normalized why many find this practice enjoyable, I made a reference to it being “harmful to your body.” I was also aware that in the bishop’s handbook it states, “unholy, unnatural, or impure practices are sinful” which I’m sure influenced my answer. I made a common mistake: allowing my own tastes and biases (in this case sexual and religious) affect my professional opinion.
Since that time I have undergone additional training in sex therapy and have been challenged by several clients and readers of my material who respectfully disagreed with my position. Many have shared their intimate experiences as husband and wife involving pleasurable and consensual anal sex or play. In fact several women have reported anal stimulation as the only way they can successfully achieve orgasm. Both the education and shared stories have helped me reevaluate my position on anal sex. The problem with terms such as unholy, unnatural, impure and even harmful is that they are vague – with numerous possible interpretations depending on individual and relational experience. What is considered unnatural or harmful to one couple may be completely different for another. This is one of the many reasons why it is vital that each couple find the safety and vulnerability necessary to discuss their sexual relationship: taking into account your own and your partner’s comfort, style, tastes, pleasure, needs, history, physical limitations, etc.
As I’ve written before, ANY type of sex comes with inherent risks, possible pleasure, and possible pain. It is each married couple’s responsibility to figure out what feels comfortable, safe and fun for them. The church position agrees with me on this: as long as there is no coercion, abuse, third party/ies or pornography – each couple has the right, authority and stewardship to decide what will be part of their sexual repertoire.
If you are going to engage in anal sex/play please educate yourselves and participate safely:
- Use lubrication
- Go slow and communicate often
- Remember that you can get an STD via anal sex (as you can through intercourse and oral sex)
- If there is any non-pleasurable pain involved stop immediately (this is my advice with vaginal sex as well!)
- Do not insert penis or sex toy into vagina directly after anal stimulation without first washing (to avoid potential bacterial transference)
If my original response elicited or contributed to any type of unnecessary shaming – I truly apologize.