A Guide to Preparing for Anal, and the Tropes Surrounding It
A week ago, there was a post on Grindur (an anonymous submission Facebook page for the DU LGBTQ community) that read:
I’ve only slept with one Durham bottom who actually knew how to douche... step it up guys
For those who don’t know, douching is when someone uses water or some other fluid to clean out their rectum (or other cavities) and can be used by those seeking to have anal sex. Since it’s SHAG Week in Hatfield and since I’m an easily triggered millennial, I’m going to talk about what mine own and many other schools’ sex ed classrooms didn’t discuss; how to douche and in contradiction to this submission’s implication, why it really isn’t necessary to do so. For anyone who might be the top / penetrator during anal sex, there will also be parts that apply to you regarding the tropes associated with douching and more importantly, the tropes associated with those who don’t douche that we should all dismiss.
For those who do not want to read about anal penetration and all that comes with it, I suggest you stop here x
How To Make Sure You’re Clean
Contrary to what might be said before getting down to business, no one wants to fuck the shit out of someone else, and presumably the person being penetrated doesn’t want that either. So, equipped with all my experience as a bottom, the parts of my experience as a top, mixed with some articles on the internet and what the doctors tell me at the GUM clinic, here’s my guide to the ways you can prepare for anal.
The simple finger. If you’re thinking of having anal, it’s a good idea to have explored yourself and your arse before you let someone else. Whether you are at the point of cleaning yourself out or not, using a finger or two to feel what your anal cavity is like in the bath or in the shower is a vital part in preparing for anal. Doing this just before having anal is also an easy trick to make sure you are clean. After you’ve gone to the loo, a finger can help to test the waters as well as help move along any more that needs to come out if you aren’t quite empty yet.
The second method is the anal douche bulb. Whilst all options are equally reliable when done right, I have personally found this method to be quicker. However, for several reasons, people can be less comfortable douching than using a finger and one of the big reasons is that douching too much can damage your insides. This method involves shooting water up inside you that often doesn’t match the temperature nor electrolyte ratios of your internal bodily fluids, so it can do some damage if done incorrectly or too frequently. The doctors I have seen at the GUM clinic tend to recommend doing it only once a day, and around two or three times a week. If you are having more regular sex than this, then definitely consider whether you need to be douching all the time.
Bulb douches come in varying sizes but for penile penetration or when using similarly sized toys, small douches are probably all you need. If you do want to play with bigger/longer toys, then consider larger douches. It’s worth noting that the physical size of the douche in no way needs to be equal to the size of whatever you’re inserting, if you do try this it can lead to overfilling. When douching, most people use tap water simply because it’s convenient. There is the potential option of using normal saline which has a balance of electrolytes more suited to your internal body conditions and therefore sometimes recommended by doctors. However, saline is far less common when douching and I am yet to meet someone who uses it instead of water. Whether you are using saline or tap water, the temperature of it is very important. Your internal body conditions need to be respected so sending in water that is too hot or too cold can cause some risk of damage. Always aim for a lukewarm temperature but bare in mind that it’s better to be slightly too cold than slightly too hot.
The third is a shower douche. This is very similar to the bulb, but there are a couple more things to remember. Unless you are very familiar with the shower you are using, you should avoid turning on the water after inserting the douche, simply because you don’t know what the temperature and water speed will be. In terms of water-speed, it should be on a low setting and, again, the temperature should be lukewarm.
Should you douche? (If you are a top, and you answered yes to this, please read)
This brings us back to the original spark of the conversation where we see some tops not only expecting bottoms to douche, but expecting them to do it thoroughly. In answer to the question above, there is absolutely no requirement to douche no matter situation you are in; the first option of using a finger or two in the shower is easy and doesn’t require the use of any equipment. Whether you want to douche depends first and foremost on how comfortable you are doing it, but it can also depend on the time and the equipment available to you (sometimes the opportunity to have sex surprises you and you might not end up at your own place). Basically, it’s your choice, and don’t let any top make you feel like you’ve made the wrong decision.
A common trope is that douching is the only way to know that you are truly clean; I can tell you with utmost certainty that this is a lie. You can be truly clean without douching and you can be unclean even after douching. I have come to see that there is no clear indicator to tell how someone has cleaned themselves nor how thoroughly they did so. From personal experience, there has been one occasion where I was asked by a top how I douched so well, he told me my arse tasted amazing (lol) and he was sure I must have douched to accomplish such a feat. In reality, I hadn’t douched at all, we messaged on Grindr and in between us agreeing to meet and him coming over, I had spent most of the time in bed watching Rick and Morty, sparing five to ten minutes to check everything downstairs was good to go. On the other end of the scale, one time I douched thoroughly and things got messy. The body is complicated and someone banging on your backdoors can make things slide down that you have no way in knowing were there in the first place. It’s anal sex and unlike what we see on porn, an anus’s primary function is to shit, so being judgemental about the accidents that happen is ridiculous. Moreover, shaming someone for how they prepare for anal sex can be damaging as well.
It is damaging for a number of reasons, but before we get onto how they are damaging, I want to take an opportunity to look at a few more trashy takes from Grindur:
ok like bottoms you don’t need to douche but please make sure you ass is clean because [sic] that was truly grim. won’t lie.
My response to this one is simply, if you do something knowing you’re at risk of an outcome that is ‘truly grim’, then just don’t do it. Anal clearly isn’t for you. And if you said this in front of the bottom you were with then you are truly trash for reasons soon to be explained.
What no you literally do [need to douche].
I'm vers and if I'm bottoming I'm douching the fuck out of myself, cleaner than the inside of a bottle of bleach.
If I'm topping I expect my bottom to be just as clean.
BOTTOMS NEED TO DOUCHE. ALWAYS.
This one is truly horrible not just in the sentiment, but also comparing your arse to a bottle of bleach. As previously mentioned, what you put up your arse shouldn’t be done without thought nor preparation and the comparison to bleach is just foul. You shouldn’t make anyone feel like this is any sort of standard of cleanliness and it is undoubtedly much healthier to not clean at all than to aim for that outcome.
Why are these tropes so damaging? If things get unexpectedly messy and you, as a top, put any sort of shame on the bottom for it, it can bring down that person’s self-confidence not just within their sex life, but also, in their general body image. Furthermore, you’re doing this in respect to something that is a completely natural occurrence and is something the bottom can have very little control over. If you don’t think that this has any impact on the bottom, then consider that 42% of men with eating disorders are gay and gay men are 12 times more likely to be bulimic than their straight counterparts. Considering only about 5-10% of the male population identify as gay, 42% is a staggering number. Whilst some of this can be attributed to the gay male community being more body-centred than the straight male community, gay men regulating their eating habits to make sure they are ‘clean’ in bed is also a known cause. Sex is a truly intimate thing and respect and awareness need to be given from both sides. Making a bottom feel self-conscious because of how they decided to clean themselves or because accidents happen in the bedroom is grimmer than any undesired outcome from anal.
Tops, you need to respect the person you’re in bed with, and bottoms, you should always follow your boundaries and what you’re comfortable with doing, don’t let anyone push you to do something you don’t want to.
Tl;dr: Shit happens.