How to Bottom:
8 Steps For Being a Great Bottom Partner
The experts at Bespoke Surgical have compiled eight essential steps for being a good bottom partner. From diet to positioning to toys, we’ve covered it all to ensure you’re both prepared and able to have the best experience possible.
How to be a good bottom
1. Step One: What to Eat (and Avoid)
2. Step Two: Be Mindful of Over-Douching
3. Step Three: Getting Your Ass Ready with Proper Anal Dilation
4. Step Four: The Best Anal Lube Practices for Anal Play
5. Step Five: The Best Sex Positions For New Bottoms
6. Step Six: Exercise Your Anal Sphincters Regularly
7. Step Seven: Identifying Anal Injuries & Getting Proper Treatment
8. Step Eight: Bringing Anal Toys into Your Bedroom
9. Extracurricular: Introducing Your Ass to Larger Toys & Fisting
Step One: What to Eat (and Avoid) If You Want to Bottom
What are most gay men afraid of? Having an accident while bottoming. The good news: a healthy diet will do most of the ass-cleaning work. Consume a high-fiber diet or take fiber supplements so that when you poop, your stool is collected together in one smooth mass. When you make fiber part of your daily regimen, you’ll reach a point where the most important step of your anal cleansing regimen is simply using the bathroom. Your body will get rid of most everything. The bad news: most people don’t consume enough natural fiber daily, which leads many bottoms to douche with unsubstantiated products that can do more harm than good. I know you still have doubts so read on…
Step Two: Be Mindful of Over-Douching
Something to consider – over-douching (cleaning too deep, with too much force, or with too much water) can lead to douche dependency, prolonged anal irritation, and mucosal injury, as well as a change in the bacterial gut microbiome (and not for the better). This, in turn, can lead to higher rates of STD and HIV transmission, as well as a greater chance of injury (like anal tears (fissures), dilated veins (hemorrhoids, or anal infections (abscesses)).
We get it, our culture demands clean and you don’t feel perfect unless you douche. A great solution is the Future Method isotonic anal douching formula. Less is more and remember, minimize the distension to decrease injury, all the while maximizing the cleanliness. Routine anal penetration, no matter how rough or deep it gets, only engages the rectum and anal canal. This is not where one’s stool is located. Cultural demands need to be called in to question for the betterment of our community.
Step Three: Getting Your Ass Ready with Proper Anal Dilation
We each have three major muscles in our ass and we need to relax all of them for complete (and successful) bottoming. Since we spend most of our time with our sphincter muscles clenched, we must train them to relax on demand, as well as be able to stretch enough to accommodate toys, the real thing, or even fists and beyond.
Below is the best way to train your muscles for bottoming:
• Invest in an anal kit with three gradual dilators (small, medium, and large).
• Use tons of lube with gentle play until you feel pressure amongst the anal sphincters. Note: silicone lube can ruin silicone toys, so for this exercise (pun intended), reach for the water-based or toy-safe stuff.
• Try to consciously relax to accommodate and then slowly remove once you hit resistance — all in one continuous motion. See next.
• Re-lubricate and insert again with a similar technique of slowly in, meeting resistance, and then slowly pulling out. One should not feel pain at all and most may require this technique to be done 4–6 times before complete insertion. And keep this cycle going for 10-12 times for a complete session. If it’s too much, it’s OK to end that session and then try again another day.
• Dr. Goldstein instructs most clients to use the small plug for two weeks, then both the small and medium plugs for the following 2 weeks, and then finally add the large plug two weeks after that. (The large is quite large with most engaging with the real thing after the medium size has been accomplished.)
• Once you’ve succeeded in accepting, you’re ready for the big D, but we do recommend the first few times using these plugs before or during anal play and taking a more dominating role in the beginning!
A few notes on butt plugs:
• Many options have a rather bulbous “tip” and using this for someone’s initial dilation can be somewhat traumatic. If it looks like a doorknob, it will feel like sticking a doorknob in your ass.
• Ideally, your kit should feature three distinct sizes that increase in a subtle, yet noticeable way. So find a set that has a more cone-like or tapered design, which will allow for gradual relaxation of the anal musculature.
• Look for a kit where the base goes directly to the handle (there’s no neck in between) so one cannot leave the dilator in fully for prolonged periods of time. This can cause swelling in the region, leading to hemorrhoids and/or tearing when trying to remove it.
Step Four: The Best Anal Lube Practices for Anal Play
There is no such thing as too much lube, especially when you’re first starting out with bottoming. And we mean the real stuff — silicone or water-based lube — not spit. Spit will actually dry out your skin and make it less elastic.
For anal sex, we recommend silicone lube. It’s hard to find any lube that beats the slickness and endurance of silicone. If you use condoms, silicone and water-based lubes are both safe with latex condoms. Water-based lube works in a pinch, but it tends to dry out quickly and gets sticky. One downside of silicone: it will stain sheets and linger on surfaces (and body parts). Put a towel down or throw your “fuck sheets” over the bed before you play. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before touching items in your bathroom, too.
Some guys love oil-based lubes. Oil based lubes are equally as slick as silicone (some say they’re even slicker); however, oil is not latex condom safe. Also, many oil-based lubes will also stain sheets and surfaces. But the more inviting aroma sometimes makes it worth it.
Hybrid water/silicone lubes will not match the slickness of pure silicone, but many people opt for hybrid lubes because they are advertised as stain-free and easier to clean than silicone.
Newer lubes are and will continue to hit the market touting safer and healthier ingredients, as well as lower osmolality. However, we have yet to find one that provides the necessary glide needed for anal sex. Please stay tuned for further developments.
Some other tips:
• Avoid warming or cooling lubes as they will irritate your butt because most of them are not designed for anal.
• Avoid anal desensitizing lubes unless you are using them to prolong anal play or enhance the experience. Otherwise, desensitizing lubes (much like poppers) can dull or remove pain sensation altogether, which can prevent someone from noticing potential injury. When you don’t know what your ass can and cannot handle, that’s when problems arise.
• If you’re playing with silicone toys, stick to water-based or toy-safe lube — silicone lube has been shown to warp some silicone toys.
Step Five: The Best Sex Positions For New Bottoms
Bottoming takes times and practice. When you’re with your partner, the best way to start is by engaging in foreplay and using anal toys with tons of lube to really prime your orifice and relax your body. However, if you feel more comfortable using toys on your own, that’s also OK. Either way, Dr. Goldstein recommends pre-dilating before full penetration. Another tip is to use a lube shooter to truly create slickness throughout the entire anal canal and distal rectum. Some clients really love using the lube shooters either before dilating or before sex.
Once dilated and ready to go, Dr. Goldstein usually recommends sitting on the dick and maneuvering until comfortable and pleasurable. Take more of a dominating role in the initial stages, making sure to be in complete control of the speed and depth, until your ass relaxes to its max potential. This may take time in one or several sessions to truly embrace all and feel beyond comfortable. Once this occurs, one can start experimenting with other positions, all the while analyzing the best angles for entry and enjoyment.
There is a true art to bottoming and thinking about it in a step-by-step process is key to its success. We promise you it will become less methodical as you progress.
Step Six: Exercise Your Anal Sphincters Regularly
The best bottoms bottom regularly. You know that feeling when you skip the gym for a couple of weeks and then you try jumping right back in? It doesn’t go well. And it’s the same in the bedroom. Now, you don’t need to be scrolling endlessly on Scruff — toys will also do the trick. But as stated prior, the ass is always in contraction. With that, we do need regular dilation to allow for the full relaxation to not only enjoy anal sex, but also minimize injury. It takes time for the neural mechanism to be set for complete and full control. And the better bottoms need this control to accommodate what is in front of them—sorry, behind them. It is a true art and more of a learned one. But thankfully it’s like riding a bike and comes back fairly quickly when one takes the appropriate steps.
A PSA: we speak lots of dilation, but please also work on the contraction as well. This can be done with toys or at the gym. The usual squats and lower extremity work should suffice to make sure to both engage and disengage the pelvic floor along with the anal musculature. We want the longevity of the bottom. It is our utmost concern—to be able to relax when one wants to fully accommodate, but not be too elastic that it doesn’t pleasure you and your partner(s). It’s a true science that can be mastered.
Step Seven: Identifying Anal Injuries & Getting Proper Treatment
First and foremost, there is nothing normal about bleeding with anal intercourse. While it may be common, it is not normal. That said, yes, there can be the one-off spot of blood from the trauma of douching or anal penetration, but it should not be something that happens frequently. This can also be said of pain. There may be some mild discomfort and initiation, but pain isn’t normal.
If these issues do ensue, please follow these tips:
• Don’t freak out!
• Start with some over the counter remedies like stool softeners, suppository (Calmol-4), and preparation H / OTC creams
• Take Epsom salt baths
• Abstain from anal intercourse
Things should improve over the next couple of days. If they do, then ease back into bottoming again by starting with an anal dilator or butt plug as a test, making sure your ass is ready for full engagement.
The other scenario is if the bleeding, pain, or any other symptoms, hasn’t stopped from the initial injury, then please go see a doctor. And by “doctor”, we don’t mean just any doctor, but rather, one who has the wherewithal to understand our community and the needs that surround it.
Some of the issues surrounding anal trauma can be from:
• Dilated veins (hemorrhoids)
• Anal tears (fissures)
• Anal warts (condylomata)
• Overuse of douching for sex preparation
• Anal infections (STDs and HIV)
• Anal abscesses
• Anal fistulas
Early intervention can set the stage for complete eradication. The longer one waits, the higher the probability that the acute issue enters the chronic phase, with its chronicity requiring a more detailed surgical intervention.
Step Eight: Bringing Anal Toys into Your Bedroom
Toys are a great way to ‘sexplore’ either by yourself or with a partner (or two) and can be used as part of preparation, foreplay, or during sex.
Dildos are a great toy to start building your collection with. A few pointers:
• The presence of balls on a dildo are a definite positive — they not only make your experience more realistic, but also from a medical perspective, this barrier prevents the loss of the item in the anal canal (a win-win).
• You can also look for a dildo with a suction cup, which allows for mobile and secure play.
• You must remember there are multiples facets that can enhance or limit your play with higher chances of local trauma and injury.
• Your pelvic angle, as it pertains to where you stick this dildo, may place its trajectory towards the front or the back of the anal canal, which may be painful on the prostate or the sacrum, respectively. So be sure to consider your height, pelvic angle, and where you stick this thing, and adjust where needed, allowing appropriate entry and centralized play.
Prostate massagers are in increasingly high demand in the world of sex play, but can come with some risks, such as:
• The prostate is a very tricky and finicky little guy with a very narrow zone that makes all the difference between enjoyment and prostatic irritation, otherwise known as prostatitis.
• A good prostate massager will be lightweight, thin, and have both internal and external pressure points for maximal enjoyment.
• Just like the aforementioned dildo, the base should be wide enough that it won’t move into the anal canal inadvertently.
• These toys require the use of your pelvic musculature to do all the work. As you contract, it moves the toy anteriorly towards the prostate and then when relaxed, re-aligns the external portion to pressurize the perineum — all in the hopes of providing an amazing release when you’re ready. Some people either do not have good enough control of the pelvic muscles to make this work or others use it incorrectly by eliciting movement of the device, causing more irritation and/or pain.
• Because of that narrow zone of enjoyment, we recommend prostate massagers for our more experienced players.
And do remember over or under stimulation may lead to clogging of the prostate and inflammation that can indeed lead to prostatitis. This is painful and annoying and does require physician evaluation with the potential use of both NSAIDs and antibiotics for relief. Also, the best is to keep masturbating, even if it is discomforting. Climax and keep things flowing—the plumbing needs to be used.
Extracurricular: Introducing Your Ass to Larger Toys & Fisting
The anatomical barriers of the bottom, in an attempt to achieve these “beyond capacity” acts of pleasure, may find restrictions from either the external anal skin, not being able to fully stretch to accommodate the new girth, or similarly, the anal muscle not being able to fully relax.
Whatever toys, cocks, or fists you play with, one must analyze the sticking point and gradually dilate over time. The overlying skin and muscle will stretch, but you need to utilize this new understanding — the science of gay sex — to push beyond its capacity. Patience is key.
Receiving help on this type of engagement from others is imperative – your partner can sometimes get a better sense of the “sticking” point than you can by just using toys. The key is surrounding yourself with others who understand proper mechanics.
The act of fisting is wonderful, but just like flying an airplane, the takeoff (or entry in this case) is the toughest part. Maneuvering the hand in positions that minimize girth will help achieve success and, once beyond the muscles, the sky’s the limit, or, in this case, the colon. Don’t get discouraged while exploring your new aspirations as it can take quite a while to finally reach your ultimate goal. But do pay attention to the maximal tension since injury can occur quite frequently when taken beyond what your body can handle.
If you have tried all of the above, yet are still unable to reach your goals, we offer Botox injections that can help induce full relaxation of the friction points (the skin lines front and back or the internal musculature). Sometimes an operative evaluation is imperative to give a better understanding of the failed mechanics with surgical resolution being a necessity. One-time Botox usually suffices, allowing full distention for time to come, as long as one continues the process of appropriate dilation and engagement.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bottoming
Is Bottoming Painful?
No, bottoming should not be painful. If pain or bleeding occurs, something isn’t right. The key is to be prepared (through plenty of pre-dilation work) and fully relaxed (both mentally and physically). You should also have lots of lube at your disposal, a partner who is patient and lets you lead the way, and constant and honest communication from start to finish. If the pain persists, please book an appointment to come see us.
Can I Still Bottom if I Am Not Entirely Clean?
Believe it or not, unless you feel the need “to go”, you’re most likely ready to bottom. Of course, being able to relax is important when bottoming and if you’re afraid you’re not entirely clean, it may be difficult to do that. Going to the bathroom before bottoming, sticking to a good diet with a hefty dose of fiber, and using an isotonic douche (like Future Method) will all work together to get you ready. Remember: less is more when it comes to douching. We recommend doing the ’toy test’ before playing, which involves inserting a lubed-up toy (preferably one that mimics your partner’s length) and then pulling it out. If it comes out clean, you’re ready to bottom. If not, you may need to douche more or, don’t be afraid to tell your partner that you’d like to take a rain check. There’s no shame in not being ready.
Should I Be Worried About STDs While Bottoming?
As with any sexual activity, bottoming comes with risk of contracting STD’s, including HIV, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphillis, Herpes, HPV, etc. That’s why we recommend full comprehensive STD screenings that involve oral and anal swabs, urine check, and bloodwork to take place at least once a quarter. We also recommend, depending on your risk, taking PrEP and/or antibiotics and antivirals prophylactically to help mitigate STD transmission.
What Makes Bottoming Pleasurable for Men?
Those born with a prostate can enjoy enhanced sensations when bottoming. Not only is the entire anal area highly sensitive, but the prostate is surrounded by nerve endings. When stimulated properly, prostate orgasms are unique in that they can provide intense head-to-toe climaxes. However, no matter your gender identity, we all have pelvises and within the pelvis is a significant amount of positive nerve endings that enhance butt play and create an explosive orgasm.
For more information, watch Dr. Goldstein’s presentation on The Art of Bottoming:
This page was medically reviewed by Dr. Evan Goldstein on March 11, 2021.
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Dr. Evan Goldstein is the Founder and CEO of Bespoke Surgical. Dr. Goldstein has extensive experience educating and shedding light on health care issues relating to the gay community, and has been published in several national publications including The Advocate, OUT Magazine, Vice, Refinery 29, NY Mag and more.