Happy Hole-idays: National Anal Sex Day Is Almost Here

How are you celebrating?

A grid of a freshly picked ripe peaches on a peach background
Bust out the butt plugs and lube for this special occasion
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Next week, the anal community will come together for its own day of recognition. No, Monica Geller stans, not anal in the neurotic sense. Anal in the kinky sense. National Anal Sex Day — or as I like to call it, National First Episode of Fleabag Day — is a day to celebrate all things anal, from rimming to pegging, butt plugs to beads. And of all the many completely made-up holidays that polka dot our calendars each year, April 18 is among the most, um, stimulating, for obvious reasons.

What used to be stigmatized as a sex act reserved for gay men and only the most extreme heterosexual deviants has become much more popular among diverse demographics. In 2010, The Journal of Sexual Medicine found 20% of women aged 20 to 39 had tried anal sex that year, while other researchers estimate that anywhere between 30% to 45% “of both sexes” have engaged in anal play. In Britain, the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes found the number of 16- to 24-year-olds who have heterosexual anal sex increased from 12.5% to 28.5% in recent decades.

But the spike in numbers hasn’t necessarily been met with a growing availability of comprehensive anal sex education (or any kind of sex education, for that matter), and some doctors in the UK are concerned about the health of women who receive anal penetration. In a 2022 article for the British Medical Journal, surgeons Tabitha Gana and Lesley M. Hunt describe an uptick in injuries and health issues related to anal sex. Some women patients have been reporting fecal incontinence, sphincter injury and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) “as well as pain and bleeding because they have experienced bodily trauma while engaging in the practice.”

Anatomically, women are at greater risk of complications from anal sex. “Women have less robust anal sphincters and lower anal canal pressures than men, and damage caused by anal penetration is therefore more consequential,” the doctors write. And increased pressure on women to perform anal sex may also have an impact on women’s physical health. “The pain and bleeding women report after anal sex is indicative of trauma, and risks may be increased if anal sex is coerced,” they added.

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The attitudes of men, like the very comedian who’s said to have coined this holiday, may have something to do with the coercion the doctors speak about. The internet attributes the creation of National Anal Sex Day to Australian comedian Jim Jefferies, who very tactfully suggested in a 2015 stand-up special that April 18 should be Anal Sex Day because there should be “one day” a year “that was for men” (may I suggest the 364 days of the year that aren’t Mother’s Day, good sir?). That way, on the 18th, “everyone’s girlfriend or wife has to take it in the ass,” he joked. 

The heady mix of rape culture with increased anal experimentation can lead to physical harm — not to mention emotional and psychological harm, too. And though the holiday may have sprung from the loins of a man wearing what looks like a brown pleather button-up, it’s since been adopted by sex- and kink-positive educators like dating app 3Fun’s resident sexpert Gigi Engle, who want to share the pleasures of anal sex with respectful, curious people everywhere. Because when done with the proper tools and ongoing, enthusiastic consent, anal sex can unlock new realms of pleasure for just about anyone. This holiday, if you plan on celebrating, remember Engle’s few critical tips for a successful anal adventure. Most important: the person being penetrated should always be in control.

“They need to be open and honest about their feelings,” she tells 3Fun. “If you need your partner to slow down, say so. If it hurts, stop and take a break. Move at your own pace to be comfortable.”

While anal sex doesn’t always involve penetration — rimming, for example, is the beloved practice of oral-anal sex, or stimulating the outside of the anus with your mouth and tongue — Engle says any kind of anal penetration will require lots and lots of silicone or silicone-water hybrid lube. Any sex toy getting inserted into the anus must have a base, otherwise it’s possible to lose it inside the body. And yes, there might be some poop, despite everyone’s best efforts at cleaning up before play. Keep towels and an unshakeable sense of humor on hand at all times. Happy hole-idays!

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