Numbing lube safe for anal sex?

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,

Numbing lube isn't inherently harmful; however, numbing lube temporarily deadens the sensors in the body that can tell you when something isn't right, which may cause problems. If you can't hear what your body is telling you, this could lead to a painful and even dangerous end result after the numbing lube wears off. Although anal sex and stimulation may be the source of pleasure for many men and women because of the anus's proximity to the male prostate gland (a.k.a., the male g-spot) and the female g-spot, it may also be uncomfortable for others. This is because people's backdoors consist of thin, sensitive tissues that are prone to tears and irritation especially since the anus, unlike the vagina, doesn't produce its own lubrication. If you feel any pain or notice bleeding after anal sex, this could be a sign of some internal damage.

Sex is meant to be enjoyable, so find what lights your fire and stoke it. But, if anal penetration doesn't do it for you, experiment to find out what does! As an alternative to using numbing lube, try other options to make anal sex more pleasurable. Firstly, the key to smooth sailing in the nether regions regardless of your port of entry is lubrication, lubrication, lubrication! Another tactic you may want to consider to help you relax is to experiment with anal masturbation. Certain toys, like butt plugs and anal dildos, may help you explore your posterior soft spots and figure out what gets you going.

If you're the one being penetrated, your partner may also help by running one or few substantially lubricated finger(s) (the thicker the lube, the better to avoid the need for continual application) along your sphincter muscles to help them relax before you begin. As objects slide in, consider amping up your communication, whether through words or sounds, to your partner of what feels good and what doesn't, and take it slow.

If these tips don't help, consider talking to your partner and discussing:

  • What else may be affecting your ability to relax, perhaps emotional reasons instead or in combination with physical reasons?
  • Is your partner pressuring you?
  • Is your partner going about it with too much gusto?
  • What are alternatives to anal sex that would be pleasurable for both of you?

Clearing the waters with honest reflection, feedback, and consensus forming may help guide smoother, slicker sex.

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? If the anal tips don't help, consider testing the winds between you and your partner for smooth sailings.

Bottoms up!

Last updated Mar 03, 2015
Originally published Sep 24, 2010

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