Myths about anal sex

When it comes to anal sex, there are a lot of myths out there. Like any other sex act, there are misconceptions everywhere but with anal, it seems like there are far more bandied about. Here we debunk some of these myths.

1. “All gays have anal sex”
Not true. Not everyone likes anal sex, and it is not one-size-fits-all. Some people aren’t comfortable with the idea of anal penetration or have tried it and found that it really isn’t for them. Some guys only top, some only bottom, some both, some not at all. It’s an individual choice.

2. “It will hurt”
Sadly, many people associate anal play with pain due to previous bad experiences or lack of understanding on how to make anal play enjoyable. Pleasurable anal sex is 90% preparation, and that includes getting mentally prepared. You can’t just shove a penis in – that will probably hurt. Going from erect straight into the anus (in a matter of seconds) is a no-no. The anal sphincter is strong, yet sensitive. It is best if you start small, with something like fingers, and then work your way towards something larger such as a butt plug or the penis. It is essential to relax the anal sphincter and to take it slow.

3. “It is dirty”
Anal hygiene is one of the most common concerns that people have about anal play. Fortunately, it isn’t that difficult to manage, and actual “pooping” during the act is extremely rare. However, you may find that poop is transferred to fingers, a sex toy, or penis if you have not taken any steps to rinse out the anal canal. At a minimum, to prevent any poop appearance, a bowel movement and shower before your anal adventure is suggested.
If you want more peace of mind that your playtime will be clean, you can try douching. It is best to complete this process at least an hour beforehand. You can try a reusable enema, or you can use a disposable enema (available at any pharmacy).

4. “Anal sex is just like what you see in porn”
Is any kind of sex just like what you see in porn? Anal sex requires preparation, and this can include conversations about protection beforehand, like PrEP, ARVs or condoms. When you watch it in porn, anal sex might seem like something you can launch into spontaneously, but real-life anal requires more care and consideration.

5. “Only ‘city’ girls and gays have anal sex”
Anal sex does not only take place between gay or bi men. It is also quite common among heterosexual people and that includes both men and women. Ever heard of pegging? Go look it up. It is falsely believed that anal sex is not enjoyable for women (because they don’t have a prostate) and that anal sex is associated with pain. This misconception of pain during anal play leads some to think that only people into BDSM (bondage) do it.

6. “You don’t need to use condoms when you have anal sex”
Condoms are recommended when having anal sex to prevent many STIs, including HIV. Most STIs are transferrable through the anus (chlamydia, gonorrhoea, infectious hepatitis, and HIV). Some even more so, because the lining of the anus is thin and can be broken if too much dry friction occurs (which is why it is important to use lube). While being HIV undetectable if a guy is positive or being on PrEP if a guy is negative are also very effective ways to prevent HIV transmission they do not prevent other STIs.

7. “Your anus will get all stretched out”
There have been rumours of men who engaged in so much anal activity that they actually lost control of their bowel movements. This is extremely unlikely to happen and these falsehoods are often used to attack men who have sex with men.  Your anus can learn to become more relaxed during sex (in part because you may become more mentally relaxed) but the sphincter muscles revert to their normal state afterwards. It is, of course, possible to hurt yourself if you aren’t paying attention to what you’re doing or if you’re forcing your body (or your partner’s body) to do something that doesn’t feel good. And, if you suffer from haemorrhoids or any other condition that affects your anus or rectum, you may want to be more cautious and check with your doctor. Also, if it hurts or feels uncomfortable, listen to your body.

For free sexual health services – including PrEP and HIV/STI testing and treatment – in the Johannesburg metro, Nelson Mandela Bay, Buffalo City or Pretoria, WhatsApp call or message us on 082 607 1686.

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Older not colder

Everyone knows life doesn’t stop at 45, yet many people think sex does.

Few stereotypes of gay life are as persistent as that of the sexually starved older man. Gay life has traditionally centered on the young and the beautiful. This issue is a particularly hot one for gay men because, regardless of age, we may still have a strong interest in sex. As we mature, many gay men feel distanced from or unwelcome at some social venues such as clubs or bars. Even on gay websites and dating apps, some younger guys make older men feel unwelcome or make us feel as if we have become unattractive or simply invisible.

Gay men sometimes treat each other as mere physical objects and we may feel judged purely on the basis of our age and our appearance, leaving us feeling socially and sexually undesirable. Many safer sex campaigns focus on younger guys, perhaps forgetting that we still remain vibrant sexual beings as we get older.

What You Should Know

  • Having sex at a mature age carries the same health risks as it does for younger guys. We remain susceptible to contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), especially if we are receptive (bottom) for anal sex. We can also transmit such infections to our partners.
  • HIV and other STIs are sometimes overlooked in older people; healthcare providers forget that we may still be sexually active, and the symptoms of HIV may be similar to the natural effects of the ageing process. It is therefore important that you get tested for HIV and other STIs regularly.
  • Conditions attributed to ageing, such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems and arthritis may occur earlier in men who are HIV positive, who may also be more prone to forgetfulness and depression.
  • If you are HIV positive, getting on and remaining on ARV treatment is vital to stay healthy and help prevent infecting your partners. If you are HIV negative, PrEP (the daily HIV prevention pill) is a powerful and easy tool to stay that way.

Problems In Bed? What Can You Do?

  • There are many reasons to stop (or cut down) on smoking and drinking, including the fact that nicotine and alcohol contribute to erectile dysfunction (ED). Cholesterol can also be a contributing factor. HIV itself may also play a role in ED.
  • Watch your waistline. High blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol can cause the vascular problems that lead to trouble with your erections. It’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising and keeping your weight down.
  • Get your heart checked, especially if you already have an established condition, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
  • Some healthcare providers are uncomfortable talking about sex, especially with an older person. If you have concerns or questions and need to talk about sex, raise the subject yourself – there is no shame!
  • Don’t assume that you have low testosterone. However, a drop-off in desire can be related to hormones. For erection issues, it can be helpful to get your testosterone checked.
  • Don’t use any products to boost your sexual functioning without your doctor 0r healthcare provider’s consent.
  • Talk to your partner if your sex drives are mismatched. It’s common for couples to have mismatched sex drives. If that’s the case, couples need to speak frankly about what is important to them sexually and try to come to a compromise to meet both of their needs.
  • Sexual issues such as low libido and erectile dysfunction may have an emotional component, so psychological counselling may be an option.

Getting older doesn’t mean you can’t have a fulfilling sex and love life, but it does mean that you should be aware of and manage your health and well-being to stay in tip-top shape!

For free sexual health services – including PrEP and HIV/STI testing and treatment – in the Johannesburg metro, Nelson Mandela Bay or Buffalo City areas, call or WhatsApp Engage Men’s Health on 082 607 1686. (If you live in other areas, you can also contact us and we will try to refer you to another service closer to you.)

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