Rim jobs. Tossing salad. Eating ass. Anal cunnilingus. Oral-anal play goes by many names—some more euphemistic than others. But no matter what you want to call it, oral-anal play (which typically involves one person using their tongue and mouth to stimulate their partner’s anus) can be a seriously delightful—and safe!—addition to anyone’s sex life. And good news, it’s probably more sanitary than you’d expect, too.
First things first, what’s a rim job?
We’re not gonna mince words, here: Performing a rim job involves gently and slowly running your tongue in circles around the rim of the anus. If you want, and your partner desires it, you can also gently penetrate the anus with the tip of the tongue, increasing speed and pressure if it feels good for both of you. Other fun ways to play back there include: using a finger to penetrate the anus while doing some licking in between, or maximizing the pleasure experience by reaching forward with your hands and applying gentle pressure on the perineum or clitoris. Let’s put those multi-tasking skills to sexy use, shall we?
And why exactly would someone want to, well, eat ass?
Though we tend to associate sexual pleasure with our genitals, the truth is, there are stimulation-worthy areas all over our bodies—anuses, included. In fact, the anal region is actually rich in nerve endings, making it super sensitive to stimulation, according to Natasha Chinn, M.D, New Jersey-based OB-GYN. (Fun fact, the main nerve in your perineum—the area between the vagina and the anus, or the scrotum and the anus—is called the pudendal nerve. And only 20 percent of its nerve endings are motor fibers, according to Chinn; the rest are sensory fibers, meaning the nerve is basically a pleasure goldmine.)
Plus, anal play can offer your partner easy access to the G-spot or P-spot, both controversial terms in the medical world. The G-spot, often referred to as a cluster of nerves that may or may not just be an extension of the clitoris (the metaphorical jury’s still out on this one), can often be found on the left side of the anterior wall of the vagina—where it can be easily stimulated by anal play, according to Chinn. The P-spot—more commonly known as the prostate gland—is a walnut-sized gland, located between the bladder and the rectum. The P-spot is recognized by many as the penis-owner’s equivalent of the G-spot (hence it’s name), and it can be stimulated by anal play, Chinn says.
In other words? There’s all kinds of pleasure potential just waiting to be untapped in the anal arena. So go ahead, if you want, and add “eating ass” to the bedroom menu.
OK, but is there any chance of me getting poop in my mouth during oral-anal play?
A common deterrent to oral-anal play? Poop. No one needs a science class to know that poop exits through our anuses, leaving them with kind of a bad—and honestly, gross—reputation. Is there any risk that mouth-to-butt action would lead to a fecal-matter-in-mouth situation? The answer’s a little complicated, and warrants a quick Science 101 recap.
Let’s start with the basics: Poop doesn’t just hang out in your rectum (the chamber that connects your colon, AKA your large intestine, to your anus) all day. Food waste that’s passed through your stomach and small intestine is stored in your large intestine until there’s enough of it to warrant, well, a bowel movement, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Once enough has built up, your colon contracts, pushes that stool into your rectum, and your brain gets a heads-up that you should probably head to the bathroom sometime soon. What that means is there’s not poop hanging out near your anus 24/7; it’s only there when it needs to be expelled, in which case, you can handle your business, according to the NIDDK. (This is why you and your partner can have anal sex without fear of, you know, creating a seriously huge mess.)
The only issue? Some fecal matter might get left behind in the process of pooping, according to Chinn. That fecal matter could be visible, invisible or some combination of the two. This means there’s some risk of getting some fecal matter on anything you’re sticking in someone’s anus, including your tongue. If that’s something you and the person you’re connecting with don’t want to risk, avoid penetrating the anus with the tongue, but know that even then microscopic fecal matter can still come in contact with your mouth. (It’s not just inside the anus—it’s around it, too.) Remember, you and/or your partner can always take a quick shower before engaging in oral-anal play, just to make sure things are clean as can be before you dive in. And dental dams are a really great option if you prefer protected oral-anal play. (More on that last part in a bit.)
And real talk: Are rim jobs sanitary?
Anuses aren’t just associated with poop. They’re also associated with all the bacteria that goes along with poop—bacteria that many of us have been taught will make us sick if it gets anywhere near our mouths. But this, too, is more complicated than it seems.
For starters, there’s bacteria everywhere in and on our bodies—including in our mouths, in our stomachs, around our anuses, and more. But that’s not necessarily a red flag, because not all bacteria is bad. In fact, a lot of that bacteria that’s lurking in our mouths, in our stomachs, on our anuses, etc., is vital to keeping our bodies running as smoothly as possible. A lot of bacteria is good, in the right places.
So while there’s definitely gastrointestinal bacteria hanging out around your partner’s anus, and while you’ll definitely get some of that bacteria in your mouth during oral-anal play, odds are, that bacteria won’t necessarily make you sick, Chinn says, but there is a possibility that it can. If your partner has been experiencing any gastrointestinal irregularities—poops that don’t look like they usually do, poops that are coming more or less frequently than they usually do, anal itching—stay away. These can all be signs of bad bacteria hanging out in your partner’s system—bad bacteria that, if ingested, might actually make you sick, according to Chinn.
So before getting down to business, have a quick chat with your partner about whether their poops have been regular lately. Sure, not the hottest topic for foreplay, but hey—if you’re already planning to get up-close and personal with their anus, it can’t be that awkward to have a quick chat about GI health.
What about STIs? Can I contract one from oral-anal play?
As is the case with basically any sex act, you can definitely contract STIs from oral-anal play, according to the American Sexual Health Association. Anorectal (anus and rectum) and oral STIs can both be contracted from oral-anal play. Some of these uncomfortable infections include anal and oral gonorrhea, herpes, chlamydia and even HPV. If you’re unsure—or if you or your partner haven’t been tested in a while—you can always skip out on oral-anal sexy time, or use protection like a dental dam, according to Chinn. Dental dams are flexible sheets, commonly made of latex, that can be placed in between the mouth and anus. Like many forms of contraception, dental dams can lower your risk of contracting STIs. You can often purchase them in the condom department of supermarkets, or get them at your local Planned Parenthood. Chinn also recommends plastic wrap as a viable alternative to dental dams, a suggestion that a study published by the National Institutes of Health supports.
How can I ask my partner to give rim jobs a shot?
If you want to give rim jobs a try, open up a conversation about it. And know that if your partner isn’t into giving or receiving oral-anal, there are plenty of other options for anal play that don’t involve using your mouth. You can always add a little lube and stimulate your or your partner’s anus with a finger or two. Want to kick things up a notch? Invest in a butt plug. Trust us, the bedroom butt possibilities are endless.