Heterosexual Relationships and Anal Sex: What’s the Big Deal?

President’s Corner by Dr. Freda Bush

September 2016

Three years ago, I spoke to over 100 teenage girls from different family and ethnic backgrounds. I asked how many of them knew a girl who was having anal sex to maintain their virginity for marriage. At least 1/3 of the girls raised their hands. I also asked if they knew of any negative consequences from having anal sex. None of them raised their hands.

Recently, an 18 year old came to my office for her annual exam and birth control. She wanted to know how to have anal sex without it hurting so badly.  In addition to the physical pain, it seemed she was having difficulty getting used to the idea of her boyfriend wanting to go in the “back door”.  I used the opportunity to explain the anatomy and the function of the rectum as an organ of exit not entrance as part of the explanation for why the physical discomfort.  I explained that her having difficulty getting used to the idea of her rectum being desired for sexual activity was also understandable since the vagina is the natural female organ for penetrative sexual activity. I explained the vagina is designed for the sperm to be deposited in the same tract of the female reproductive organs with the expectation of procreation and childbirth occurring. I could not explain why her boyfriend preferred her “backdoor”. I did not suggest he may be having sexual relations with males. I did, however, suggest several things she needed to decide: 1. Did she want to continue in that relationship? 2. Did she want to continue trying to get used to anal sex? 3. When and how did she want to have a conversation with her boyfriend about it?

This recent office visit reminded me of how questions about pain with anal sex or some variety of that question seem to be appearing more frequently in popular magazines like Cosmopolitan or on the internet sites like, Go Ask Alice.  Apparently, anal sex is growing in popularity for heterosexual activity and seems to be requested by the male partners of the females and not the other way around. Despite more girls using anal sex to preserve their “virginity” by not penetrating the vagina, it simply shows their lack of understanding that sex is a whole person experience.   Sex is defined by MI as any intimate contact between two individuals that involves arousal, stimulation, and/or a response by at least one of the two partners. It also applies to one person if self-stimulation is used. Therefore, having anal sex instead of vaginal sex, does not preserve ones “virginity”.  It only means one did not have sex in the vagina.

The fact that young people  are getting  more exposure to pornography could explain the normalizing of  anal sexual behavior without an understanding of the potential  anatomical and psychological harm that results for both the females and males participating in that behavior. Please refer to the previous MI scientific article on this blog  for more details of consequences of anal sex.

I close with the admonition to the young people to T H I N K of the consequences before participating in any activity regardless of the potential pleasure.

  • Tell yourself …Draw the line. There are some things I will do and some things I won’t do.
  • Hear your heart…Listen. You know healthy vs unhealthy; right vs wrong
  • Include advice…Talk to caring adults, trusted friends, family and medical professionals
  • Now choose…… Decide: Is it a positive or negative behavior
  • Keep choice in mind…..Think before you act

4 Responses to “Heterosexual Relationships and Anal Sex: What’s the Big Deal?”

  1. [email protected]

    I LOVE the THINK acronym. I will use it in my presentations this month. And give you credit of course. Thank you so much for addressing this so clearly.

  2. [email protected]

    thanks for the Think acronym, and all you do on this site. Our society and culture is sending the message to our young people that sex is just “another activity done for pleasure” and not for procreation, and the bonding of two people in a loving relationship. Everyone suffers the consequences- the individuals involved and the children that are sometimes born into less than ideal circumstances. I will continue to use this site in my classes.

  3. Randy

    Dr. Bush,

    As a guy who has been down this road, with consequences, the desire for a male lies more in the “tightness” which can enhance the pleasure for him, not homosexual acts. Thing is, it is all about him, not his partner. I agree that porn is a big factor.