Q: I'm really curious about, and want to start trying, anal sex, but my partner is quite a large so I'm a bit nervous about the initial pain and stuff. Someone told me butt plugs are a good way to get yourself ready. Is this true? What would you recommend?
The bum is different to the vagina!
Anal sex is definitely a lot different to, and therefore takes different preparation for, vaginal sex. The main reasons being that the anal cavity is nowhere near as elasticised or stretchable, nor does it produce any natural lubrication, and the fear of mess can also be very off-putting.
The mess factor is easily fixed by using an anal douche, they're pretty basic to use and are really effective in clearing out any remains and helping to ease your mind, making it a lot easier to relax and focus on more pleasurable things.
As for the preparation to get ready for a penis, yes. I definitely recommend working your way up to that size. This will not only get your body used to taking larger items, it will also help you mentally prepare for the larger ones.
Training and Preparing
The best products for this sort of process are “anal training kits”, which have been designed specifically for this very purpose. They most often contain three (3) different sized plugs, starting nice and thin, and working their way up to larger sizes. A couple of good brands who do these are Colt, Fun Factory and Tantus, all slightly different in their shapes and designs and all really excellent quality.
It's a really good idea to go in store and look at them properly, because it can be really hard, even with measurements laid out, to get a real idea of the size and shape of a toy online, as well as the texture and flexibility (or not) of the material.
The most important thing when buying toys for anal play, is that they are proper anal toys with a good flared base on it. This will stop the toy from moving up into the anal cavity an getting lost. Unlike the cervix inside the vagina, there is nothing to stop the toy from travelling inside your body to an irretrievable place, and that's a trip to the ER you don't want to have to make.
Because of the way the nerves and skin of the anus opening are, this entry point can often be the one that gives the most discomfort and pain, so if you think this might be something that will effect you, have a look for a toy with a thinner neck to begin with while you're getting used to the feeling of having something inside there (The G-Plugs by G-Vibe/FT Toys are great for this, although in saying that, for anal sex you will have to get used to that opening being, well, open) and ask in store (or search online) for anal relaxing sprays and lubricants.
Oh What A Feeling!
DO NOT, under any circumstances, buy products that numb the area. These are super dangerous and can cause all sorts of issues. The main reason I don't recommend them is because you have pain receptors there for a reason. The skin around and inside the butt is very very delicate and easily torn (this also means it's super susceptible to STIs as well, so always remember to practice safe sex). If you numb the area you will have no idea what is happening down there and you can cause all sorts of later pain and complications. Also, I don't understand the idea of numbing it anyway. Isn't the whole idea of sex to feel good? What's the point if you can't feel it?
Specialised anal relaxing lubes and sprays can help to make the sphincter looser and more accepting to entry, and they also don't take away any sensation, so you can still gauge how it feels and take it at your own pace.
Always use loads of lubricant. Like heaps. The thicker and more gel-like it is, the longer it will last in the area, and that's what you really want. Don't be afraid to reapply as often as you want/need. If you're using silicone toys it's best to use a water-based lube with them to avoid damaging the toy's material.
I usually recommend something like Wicked Jelle or any of the Pjur Back Door or Analyse Me range, which also incorporate relaxing agents and other soothers (although a lot of them are silicone based, so always read the label and talk to the experts).
To Buzz or Not to Buzz?
When it comes to vibrating or non-vibrating toys that's totally a personal experience thing and something you'll need to work out for yourself. One thing I often tell people when they're making this decision is, if you buy a vibrating one but never want to turn it on, then that's cool. You don't have to. But if you buy a non-vibrating one and then decide you'd like to try the buzz, there's nothing you can do about it but buy another toy. Not all brands offer vibrating options either, so again, it's a good idea to really look around and find the best one for you and your needs.
In the end, the best and simplest advice I can give you is to take it slowly, use lots of lube, be aware of what you're feeling, and enjoy another step in your sex journey and another feather in your experience cap!