Numbing lube safe for anal sex?

Originally Published: September 24, 2010 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: August 4, 2015
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Dear Alice,

Is numbing anal lube safe to use? It’s the only way I feel relaxed... I've always been too nervous to relax if we try to have anal without it.

Dear Reader,

Anal sex can be a flurry of excitement and pleasure, but it can also bring — you said it — nervousness. The anus is certainly one of the tighter openings of the body, which is why people may find anal sex both arousing, but also quite tricky and daunting. As such, some people turn to products like numbing anal lube to get the backyard party started when things seem just a little too uptight. While numbing lube isn’t inherently harmful, it does “shut off” the very sensors in your anal and rectal regions whose job it is to signal when something isn’t right with your body; if you can’t feel pain, you might not realize if you’re harming or damaging your body. On top of that, not all numbing lubes are safe to use with latex condoms (remember; only water- and silicone-based lubes can be used with latex rubbers). For these reasons, numbing lube is not highly recommended, even when your rear just can’t seem to relax. Fortunately, though, there are a few other tips and strategies you can consider for turning your bum’s “Do Not Enter” into a  “Welcome!” sign.

The first key to smooth sailing in the nether regions, regardless of your port of entry, is lubrication, lubrication, lubrication! There are many non-numbing lube options out there, but a thicker, water-based lube may suit your anal adventures best. Applying lube liberally and often can help prevent tearing and other injuries to the taut and tender skin of the anus and rectum. Once you’ve selected the lube that tickles your fancy, consider these other tips for derriere delight:

  • Set the mood. Making your environment comfortable and relaxing yet arousing (candles? music? sexy outfits?) can be half the battle in getting your body to be more open to new or daunting sexual adventures, such as anal sex.
  • Communicate. A little pre-anal pillow talk about what you and your partner desire and expect out of anal sex can also help you mentally and physically relax before attempting to unlock the back door. While you’re having anal sex, ensuring that the receiver feels comfortable communicating to her/his partner about when to stop, change speeds, or alter positions during sex is necessary for safety and enjoyment. To ensure that neither person is being harmed in the process, it’s crucial that the giver listen and be attentive to that communication.
  • Play around. Anal and other sexual activities are definitely not mutually exclusive! Playing with other erogenous zones before or during anal sex can help get you in the mood, take your mind off your nerves, and enhance the experience.
  • Go slow! Anal sex is more of a marathon than a sprint. If you and your partner try it too aggressively too quickly, you may very well find your bum clamming up. You might even experiment with anal stimulation bit by bit over the course of a few days.
  • Switch it up. Switching between fingering, kissing, and penetrating (with either toys or a penis) the bum, as well as trying different positions, can not only keep anal interesting, but also more relaxing for the receiver.

The bottom line (excuse the pun) is that by turning off your pain sensors with numbing lube, you're also turning off your pleasure sensors, and what's sex without pleasure? And while anal sex is generally a safe way to get your kicks, there are some risks of harming the tissues of the anus and rectum. So numbing the very sensors meant to protect you could mean that you’re worse off in the end (pun, again!). For a whole slew of ideas of ways to have the most enjoyable and safest anal sex adventures possible, consider checking out the Go Ask Alice! About Anal Sex archives. There are also a number of casual yet informative books about anal out there, including The Good in Bed Guide to Anal Pleasuring by