What do anal orgasms feel like? We asked three women
*names have been changed
It’s a long-standing misconception that women don’t enjoy anal sex. While some of us don’t, those of us that do often feel unable to be vocal about it due to the specific stigma attached to anal penetration. But plenty of us are having it: a study found that participation in receptive anal sex for women was the same across most demographics, with higher education and higher income all correlating with a greater likelihood of anal sex.1
According to the same study, women who participate in anal sex are more likely to be irreligious, and married or living with a partner. They are also more likely to have engaged in sex with other women, to have started engaging in sexual activity before the age of 16, and to have experienced an unintended pregnancy.2
A 2017 study by SKYN found that 36% of millenial women engage in anal sex ‘at least some of the time’
Other research indicates that the uptake in anal sex is on the rise, with PornHub reporting that searches for anal-focused content rose 120% between 2009 to 2015, while a 2017 study by SKYN found that 36% of millenial women engage in anal sex ‘at least some of the time’.3 But it has also found that pain is a significant barrier to receptive anal sex for women, with even those that enjoy it reporting that they prefer vaginal sex.4,5 So for those women that enjoy anal sex to the point of reaching orgasm, what makes these experiences pleasurable for them?
Emotional comfort and bodily perception
Valerie, an illustrator in her mid-twenties, says that for her, anal orgasms are “more of a physiological thing than a physical thing”, and that she only started to enjoy anal sex with her current partner, having initiated it with ex-partners and felt underwhelmed or uncomfortable.
“He’s [current partner] so relaxed about it,” she says. “There’s no pressure at all to participate, but also no pressure to be perfect, and no shame involved in the process. With ex-partners, some of them would constantly worry that they’d get something on them — this created a sense of shame and put pressure on me, causing me to become self conscious.
“One partner would constantly stop and pull out to check his dick — it was so off-putting and made me feel horrible.”
With her current partner, it’s the “lack of shame” and “openness” that make anal sex so enjoyable for Valerie, increasing her chances of reaching an orgasm from penetrative anal stimulation. She generally orgasms quite easily, both clitorally, vaginally, and anally — though anal orgasms happen less often than the former two. She says when they do happen, anal orgasms bring her and her partner closer together.
“My partner actually encourages me to push into the feeling of ‘needing to go’, and it’s more pleasurable when I do”
“When they do happen, they happen spontaneously,” she says. “It does hurt a little bit to begin with, but the pain has never been the issue for me, but more the fear of feeling ashamed of what my body might do.
“My partner actually encourages me to push into the feeling of ‘needing to go’, and it’s more pleasurable when I do. He’s not bothered if accidents happen, which allows me to fully let go.”
Alice, a 24-year-old hairdresser, echoes this sentiment about trust, being comfortable around the other person, and an environment without shame being key to enjoying anal sex and reaching orgasm.
“The stigma around accidentally shitting yourself during anal sex has never held me back,” she says. “This is because my boyfriend also enjoys having anal sex and understands the risks. I also have friends that enjoy anal too and that are more experienced than me with it. They openly talk about how to use enemas to prepare beforehand.
“It’s not something I’d do with someone I was just dating, or casually.”
Some like to use devices that flush out the anal passage before anal sex, using water or a liquid solution
While steps can be taken to minimise accidental contact with feces, if anal is a regular part of your sex routine, it’s likely that the person you’re having sex with will come into contact with it at some point. Some like to use devices that flush out the anal passage before anal sex, using water or a liquid solution. This is completely down to personal preference and isn’t an essential step. It won’t completely prevent an accident from happening, and can disrupt the body’s electrolyte balance if done too often.
Using condoms can prevent contact with anal secretions more effectively, as well as the transmission of STDs and other infections.
Foreplay and the build-up
For both Valerie and Alice, foreplay is essential for gearing up to anal sex, both emotionally and physically. Alice isn’t able to reach an orgasm anally without clitoral stimulation at the same time, while Valerie is able to, but clitroral stimulation beforehand makes the initial entry point less painful for her, as well as resulting in a more intense anal orgasm later on.
“If I am already extremely aroused, the whole process is heightened in a pleasurable way,” says Valerie. “It means I am more receptive to anal physically too, they’ll still be that initial pain but I can lean into it and enjoy it if there’s been foreplay before.”
“Being penetrated anally results in the most intense orgasms for me, but I have to be clitorally stimulated at the same time to actually get there”
Alice says a partner that understands her body and what she likes is the most important step when preparing for anal sex.
“Being penetrated anally results in the most intense orgasms for me, but I have to be clitorally stimulated at the same time to actually get there,” she says.
For advertising executive Leila, who’s in her late twenties, anal orgasms aren’t a common occurrence. She can only recall ever having one, and it took her by surprise.
“There was no other kind of other stimulation going on at the time, and at first his strokes were quite slow and steady because I’m not generally a huge fan of anal sex, so had limited expectations,” she says. “Suddenly, he started going deeper and deeper and then I realised I was about to cum.”
“During the build up, there’s this ticklish, tingling sensation deep inside the G spot area”
She says the person she was participating in sex with had a curved-shaped penis that felt like it was “stimulating her G spot through her walls”, even though it was inside her anal passage. Like Leila, Valerie also recalls feeling a sensation in her G spot area during the build up to an anal orgasm, as well as feeling more stimulated the deeper the penetration.
“During the build up, there’s this ticklish, tingling sensation deep inside the G spot area,” she says. “Even at this point I feel closer and more intimate with my partner — it’s a deeply rewarding experience. I love the taboo element of anal sex the most, that makes it all the more enjoyable.”
Do anal orgasms feel different?
During their research into female sexuality from the 1960s until the 90s, Masters and Johnson found that a woman’s physiological response to orgasm was the same no matter where the stimulation came from, debunking Sigmund Freud’s theory that ‘clitoral’ and ‘vaginal’ orgasms were fundamentally different.6 Their findings are echoed by Alice’s experience with anal orgasms.
“I think penetrative orgasms as a different type of orgasm are a myth,” she says. “But when I orgasm while I am having anal sex, I feel the sensation everywhere.”
Leila’s one-time experience also felt the same as her past orgasms. She describes the build-up as familiar, “exactly the same as when you’re normally about to cum from clitoral stimulation or vaginal sex”. But as someone who normally ejaculates during orgasm, this was something that was absent from her anal orgasm.
“I normally gush everywhere when I orgasm,” she says. “And nothing came out of me that time, but the orgasm feeling was still the same — I can usually feel it somewhere in my stomach, like something is rushing or pouring out.”
“Anal orgasms aren’t as sharp in comparison to my vaginal or clitoral orgasms, but they are more intense because they go on forever”
Valerie mirrors Alice’s experiences, with her anal orgasms feeling “way more intense” than her orgasms without anal penetration. She describes them as “longer lasting” and “as if they could go on forever if my partner stays in the exact same spot”.
“Clitoral orgasms are the sharpest for me, but they are over the quickest and it actually hurts to be stimulated in that area once you’ve orgasmed, “ she says. “With vaginal orgasms, I tend to push my partner out because of the vaginal contractions.
“Anal orgasms aren’t as sharp in comparison to my vaginal or clitoral orgasms, but they are more intense because they go on forever.”
The only time Valerie experiences unbearable pain during anal sex is once her orgasm has finally finished — she describes the feeling as a sudden clenching. She also often feels physically exhausted after an anal orgasm, but euphoric at the same time. She describes not being able to move, but still feeling “awake with adrenaline”.
She says, “It’s a contented type of exhaustion. I have a huge endorphin high afterwards. The whole process is freeing, orgasms are a journey not a destination.”
The featured header image shows a woman in her underwear in a suggestive position on a bed. The white squiggles around her body indicate physical pleasure, while the moody tones and colours inside the image symbolise the societal taboo element of anal sex
Page last updated June 2019
1. Benson, L., Martins, S., & Whitaker, A. (2015). Correlates of Heterosexual Anal Intercourse among Women in the 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 12/8: 1746-1752.
3. SKYN survey, 2017 SKYN® Condoms Millennial Sex Survey Reveals Nearly 50% Of Respondents Sext At Least Once A Week, Prnewswire.com website, 2017
4. Reynolds, G., Fisher, D., & Rogala, B. (2014). Why Women Engage in Anal Intercourse: Results from a Qualitative Study. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44/4: 983-995.
5. Štulhofer, A., & Ajduković, D. (2013). A Mixed-Methods Exploration of Women’s Experiences of Anal Intercourse: Meanings Related to Pain and Pleasure. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42/6: 1053-1062.
6. Archer, J., & Lloyd, B. (2014). Sex and gender, pp. 85-88. Cambridge University Press.