If you engage in anal play or bottoming, you may be wondering how to clean yourself out before anal sex. After all, we were not taught this in sex ed and often have to figure it out on our own. There are many ways to clean up, get comfortable, and feel confident before anal sex, and one of those ways is to use an anal douche. While we love douching for how effective and easy it is, there are proper measures that should be taken to make sure that you are doing it safely. Below, Dr. Goldstein explains how to anal douche properly while answering the most common questions about all things related to anal cleansing.
What is Anal Douching?
Anal douching (aka rectal douching) is the act of cleansing the rectum and anal canal, most traditionally done with liquid expelled from a douche bulb. It is not meant to treat a medical condition, such as constipation, and can be done before and/or after sex. It’s most commonly done to get the rectum and anal canal ready for bottoming or anal receptive sex.
Is Anal Douching Necessary?
It is not necessary to anal douche before having anal sex. Unless you feel the urgency to go, your body actually stores poop higher up in the sigmoid colon, which will generally only be reached if you’re engaging in fisting or your partner/toy is above average in length. Therefore, cleansing around the anal opening (externally with your favorite soap) should be sufficient for most people. Of course, a high fiber diet also helps keep the area right inside your hole tidy, too, by helping create bulky stool that’s easy to pass when you go to the bathroom.
However, many people prefer to anal douche to ensure that they are fully clean and ready for bottoming. Douching can also help people feel more comfortable and relaxed before they participate in anal sex because, if done properly, it will help to wash away any lingering excrement inside the anal canal and rectum.
What Can be Used for Safe Anal Cleansing?
While there are many popular anal douches out there, including pre-filled store bought enemas, bulb douches, water bag douches, and shower attachments, unfortunately, each of these come with negative effects. Why? These solutions were not meant for anal sex preparation and, therefore, have been known to cause harm to the body.
Luckily, there is a body-compatible solution specifically made for anal sex available – the Future Method Anal Douche. It’s the first isotonic solution that was created by medical professionals, including Dr. Evan Goldstein, to gently, yet effectively, cleanse the anal canal and rectum. Finally, something made by our community for our community that has the safety profile we have been asking for.
How to Anal Douche
Proper anal cleansing is key to a pleasurable and safe experience. The medical team at Bespoke Surgical has outlined how to douche to help prepare for anal sex in the steps below:
Anal Douching Steps
Use the bathroom.
Wash your douche’s bulb and tip with warm water and soap until clean.
Draw the douche solution into the bulb.
Lubricate the bulb tip to make insertion easier and reduce the risk of tears.
Get into a comfortable position. Most often, resources will recommend sitting on the toilet, getting on all fours, or standing in the shower. However, we find that standing up (either in or out of the shower) helps prevent the liquid from going too high up into your body (thanks primarily to gravity). The higher it goes, the more likely it’ll end up in your sigmoid colon, the more likely you’ll dislodge any poop that might be stored in there, which can make things messier than they would have been had you not even douched at all.
Insert the entire bulb tip into the anus.
Gently squeeze the bulb’s contents into your rectum.
Remove both the tip and the bulb, and then immediately expel the mixture of douche solution and waste into the toilet or down the shower drain.
Discount code will be automatically applied at checkout.
Is Anal Douching Safe?
Our intestines, more so the anus and rectum for bottoming, contain good bacteria that assists in digesting food, absorbing nutrients, aiding in appropriate stool formation, and keeping the bad bacteria in check. This microbiome stability is paramount to its functionality. Aggressive and frequent anal douching with products not developed specifically for the anal canal and rectum can actually flush away the good shit (pun intended), leaving you susceptible to a whole host of stomach and intestinal issues. Your intestinal flora are valuable for maintaining a healthy electrolyte balance and should be preserved as much as possible.
Water alone or saline chemical solutions actually cause the cells in the anorectal region to be injured, subsequently causing cell death. Remember: douching with a commercially prepared enema before anal sex or using just plain tap water creates a lot of mucus and dryness in the area, which can also cause cell damage, cracking, and bleeding, making it easier to contract and pass along both HIV and other STDs. The crazy part is if this location is injured during the douching act, its lacks the sensations necessary for one to know a true problem exists.
One can be doing damage to one’s mucosal lining for a prolonged period of time and not know it until it’s too late. This is why it’s so important to consider an isotonic douche designed specifically for the anal canal and rectum, making it the best way to prepare for anal sex. Isotonicity means a solution is in a normal zone of protection that allows for appropriate cleansing of the anal canal, without the traumatic effects of the other anal douche products mentioned. It’s that zone that one wants to stay within, which will allow both fruitful and continuous bottoming.
Risks of Over-Douching
Over-douching (cleaning too deep, with too much force, or with too much tap water) can cause problems, such as douche dependency, prolonged anal irritation, elevated mucus production, and lengthening or incomplete contraction of the rectum/colon, which can lead to chronic constipation. One’s anal sphincters keep everything inside and the constant pushing required for douching can cause injury to these muscles, let alone just the insertion of a device can cause added localized injury. Proper use and lots of lubrication aids proper mechanics.
Aside from the health risks, over-douching (too much volume or too much force) can also loosen stools that are higher up in the rectum, which wouldn’t normally come into contact with anal sex, making it even messier than if you hadn’t douched at all. The people who are douching for hours on end, for traditional anal intercourse, are placing themselves at risk and this method is not substantiated. The area in which the penis actually enters is located in the distal rectum and anal canal. This region is mostly clean, if the above methods are taken into account.
Gentle cleaning with small volumes allows for the removal of any remaining debris, all the while protecting and aiding one during the actual act. Less is more from the actual size of the bulb to how much force one uses. If you inflate like a balloon and use too much volume, this will enter the actual colon, much further from where one would go for engagement. This in and of itself will produce brown excrement, which leads one to believe that they are not “clean”. It’s key to understanding the correct principles and using the right mechanics and solutions that will aid in proper preparation.
Anal Cleansing & Grooming Tips
Understanding how to clean for anal involves more than just knowing how to douche. Anal hygiene and grooming also involves external hygienic care of your backside. Anal douching and learning about the effects of diet on anal sex are powerful first steps toward the best possible anal sex experience, and depending on your preferences and those of your partner(s), you can opt to take additional steps to ensure your anal experience is positive for everyone involved.
External anal hygiene External hygiene really comes down to keeping your anus clean regularly and before you’re ready to have anal sex. You can do that through regular washing with soap and warm water or by installing a bidet at home. Whatever soap suits your fancy is amazing, but exfoliating soaps, specifically in this region, allow for not only ridding of unhealthy skin, but also keeping you primed and fresh.
To shave or not to shave? You can also shave or wax your anal region, but this is a personal aesthetic preference (and comes with potential problems, like ingrown hairs or irritation). Also of note, if not done correctly through either cleaning reusable razors or utilizing new razors, one can cause local infections, including anal warts from an HPV infection. Laser hair removal is ideal, but can be costly and is more a long lasting effect with some elements of irreversibility.
Say no to wipes! We are sorry to crush your spirits, but wet wipes (aka baby wipes) are terrible not only for your hole, but also the environment as well. They truly deplete your anal region of the good bacteria, which can lead to significant dermatitis or infections and can be the cause of a herpes or HPV/anal warts outbreak. Also, the residual moisture can lead to constant irritation and infections. While brands are constantly touting their freshness and ease of use, they don’t want you to know about their potential risks. Not to mention, the clogged toilet you have is usually because of them. Help the environment and your ass by staying away from wipes.
The biggest piece of medical advice Bespoke Surgical can offer is to listen to your body. It knows what it can handle and what it can’t. Along with this, it’s key to make sure that you are eating well and maintaining great hygiene. One easy tip is to prove to yourself, even before you douche, how clean you truly are by using a butt plug or dilator, preferably light-colored, to see whether or not any residual stool is present. If it’s all clean, you’re ready to go. The important thing to remember is that accidents happen and everybody poops. So, if you find yourself in a situation where things have gotten a little messy, DON’T PANIC! You’re not a freak… you’re perfectly normal.
By taking the above advice and utilizing the appropriate methods with minor tweaks, we can all reach the desired effects we are searching for. When it comes to sex, one size does not fit all (literally and figuratively). Let us know if you still have specific anal cleaning questions we can answer. Oh, and good luck!
Dr. Evan Goldstein is the Founder and CEO of Bespoke Surgical, NYC’s leading sexual health private practice. He received his osteopathic doctorate from the University of Medicine and Dentistry School in 2002 and completed his residency in General Surgery at Maimonides Medical Center. In 2020, he was named one of NYC’s top LGBTQ+ business leaders by Crain’s New York and he is involved with GLSEN, ACRIA, HRC, and Callen-Lorde’s Howard J. Brown Society. All of these experiences and affiliations have shaped his whole-life approach towards the practice of private surgical care and sexual wellness.