How to use Anal Toys

Whether the hype about anal sex rising in popularity is true or not, the fact remains that anal sex play (which includes both internal anal penetration as well as external stimulation of the anus or any part of the ass) is a safe and healthy way to expand your erotic exploration.

Anal sex play focuses on both physical and psychological pleasure that other forms of sex play do not, and for many people (alone and with partners) it opens up new avenues that has an impact on all aspects of their sex lives. For others it’s something to try but holds no great charms.

A wonderful way to explore anal sex play is through the use of anal sex toys. In theory any sex toy you use to stimulate the anus, rectum or prostate is an anal sex toy. But there are some important safety issues with anal sex toys, and I recommend only using toys that have been designed for anal play and are clearly safe for this kind of play. It’s also important to follow the basic rules of anal sex to make sure you play with your sex toys safely.

Basic Tips:

  • If you’re not sure where to start, it’s always best to start small, slow, and with lots of lubricant.
  • Thicker lubes generally tend to be better for anal play because they stay where you put them better than thinner lubes, which spread more easily.
  • Many anal toys feature a curve designed for prostate stimulation which can also be used for g-spot stimulation.
  • It’s worth repeating the main safety concern, which is to only use toys with some sort of flared base or barrier to prevent the whole toy from entering the rectum, and make sure your toy is smooth and seamless.

Anal Beads:

Avoid beads that use nylon string.
Some anal beads are comprised of a series of hard plastic balls that are knotted onto a nylon string. These beads are of the lowest quality and aren’t recommended. The string is impossible to properly clean (this means that you should use a condom over the beads every time, which can change the feeling of the beads). Also, the knots in the string can be uncomfortable. There are many styles of inexpensive beads that are made of solid rubber and these are much easier to clean, will last longer and are more comfortable to use.

Lubricant required.
You always need to use a personal lubricant with anal beads. Water-based lubricants are a good choice for almost everyone. If you are using anal beads made of silicone do not use silicone-based lubricant. Put a generous amount of lubricant on the beads (making sure to put lube on all of the beads, not just the ones at the tip). With your fingers you can also put some lubricant on the outside and just inside the anus. Thicker lubes are easier to use with anal beads as they don’t slide off the toy right away. You’ll probably need to replenish the lube at some point.

Condoms and anal beads.
Using a condom on anal beads is an easy way to keep them clean, make them last longer, and reduce the risk of transmitting any infections. If you are the only one using your anal beads a condom may not be necessary. If you think you’ll share your beads, you have to use a new condom each time you use the beads. If you’re using beads that are solid rubber and firm enough not to bend, using a condom won’t change the way the beads feel.

Inspect the product.
Before you use your anal beads for the first time, take them out of the package, wash them well, and then check them out carefully. Look for any seams, tears or sharp edges. If your anal beads are plastic, you can use an emery board to file any seams down so they are smooth. If your anal beads are supposed to be made of a non-porous material, look for any holes or bits missing from the material. If there are any flaws, return your anal beads before you use them.

Start on your own.
Even if you’re planning on letting your partner use the anal beads with you, it’s a good idea to try them on your own the first time. You’ll feel less self-conscious and/or you can really concentrate on how it feels for you without being distracted (for better or worse) by a partner. Make sure you have a little time and enough privacy before getting down to business.

Turn yourself on first.
Before you try to use your anal beads for the first time, get yourself turned on however you would normally. If you’re feeling awkward or distracted, it can make penetration more difficult, so being relaxed and aroused can make your first time with anal beads go more smoothly.

How they work.
Inserting anal beads doesn’t create any intense pleasure, and having them inside you doesn’t usually feel either good or bad. The basic premise behind anal beads is that as you pull them out, and the beads pass along the two ringed sphincter muscles, then you feel a series of pleasurable sensations. It can be considered similar to having any other muscle massaged, although these are muscles that don’t get massaged very often. Just like with regular massage, some people will really enjoy this sensation and others won’t like it at all.

Start slow.
Once you’re feeling relaxed and ready to insert the beads, and you’ve got lots of lube on the beads, begin to slowly insert them one by one. Notice how this feels, and if you’re feeling any pain or discomfort either slow down, add more lube, or stop. Once all the beads are inserted you can choose to do other things and stimulate yourself in other ways. When you’re ready, begin to slowly pull the beads out. Eventually you may want to do this faster or slower, but the first time go nice and slow. Notice the feeling as each bead passes across the sphincter muscles.

Timing the use of anal beads.
In a lot of pornographic literature and some porn films, there is talk of anal beads being pulled out “at the point of orgasm” and this being a huge orgasmic experience. You can certainly try to do this, but it isn’t necessary and many people like to use anal beads at different times in sex play. Few people describe anal beads as their singularly greatest sexual experience, and they are not nearly as popular as other sex toys, but they can still be a fun and unique form of anal play and physical sensation.

Using anal beads with a partner.
Using anal beads on a partner can be a thrilling experience. It offers the opportunity for a lot of build up and teasing as well as adding an element of power play into your sex play. But because tissues in the anus and rectum are easier to tear, and this kind of play is considered higher risk, it’s important for you to have good communication with your partner before engaging in anal play, including using anal beads. If you can’t tell your partner what to do, when to start, stop, or slow down, you shouldn’t let them use anal beads on you.



Don’t be fooled by porn.
Porn actors are expected to engage in a wide range of dangerous sex practices. The way that sex toys, including anal beads, are used in porn films is not generally recommended. Sometimes they are going slow and being safe, but the way the film is edited makes it appear as if all the action happens within a few minutes. The size of toys used in porn can also be misleading. If you’re new to anal play, be sure to start small and don’t worry if what you’re doing looks like it does in the movies.

Anal play safety for women.
Women need to be careful to avoid passing material or fluids from the anus and rectum to the vagina. Bacteria that live quite happily in the anus can cause havoc in the vagina. Because the orifices are relatively close together, you and/or your partner should use latex or non-latex gloves when engaging in any kind of anal play and remove the gloves before either of you touch the vulva or vagina.

Butt Plugs

Butt plugs, which are also called plugs, and anal plugs are toys designed to be inserted in the anus, and the design allows them to stay in place.

People will often use butt plugs by putting them in and then having other kinds of sex while they are in place, or even leaving them in while they do other non sexual things.

The basic design of a butt plug begins small at the tip, gets wider as you move down to the base, and then narrows just before the base, with a wide flared bit at the end.

Butt plugs are usually available in jelly rubber, silicone, acrylic or hard plastic and metal. There are vibrating butt plugs as well as unplugged-plugs.

Butt plugs don’t have to stay where they are and can be moved around for additional stimulation. While it can be safe to insert a butt plug and leave it in for a long period of time, there can be a problem as the lubricant dries up. In particular removing a “dry” butt plug can be painful, and if you don’t replenish the lubricant occasionally it’s possible (although not inevitable) that you could do some harm through tearing.

If you’re interested in a butt plug that will stay in for longer periods of time, butt plugs that have bulbous heads and longer narrow stems between the head and the base of the toy will stay put better than regular plugs.


Dildos are toys designed for penetration that don’t have motors and don’t vibrate.

An anal dildo is any dildo that has no sharp edges or seams and a flared base designed to prevent it from going all the way in.

Dildos designed specifically for anal use tend to be either smaller or made for male anal play and the shape is designed to stimulation the prostate.

Different than butt plugs, anal dildos are usually used for in/out style penetration, and the main considerations when choosing an anal dildo is the size of the toy and the material.

Anal dildos are available in every size imaginable (from a pinky finger to a large fist and more), and like other dildos, anal dildos are available in a range of materials including jelly rubber, silicone, acrylic or hard plastic and metal.

As with any other sex toy, and particularly anal sex toys, it’s important to use a lubricant when playing with anal dildos.

Vibrating Anal Toys

Anal vibrators are designed to add extra stimulation to anal play while being safe for anal penetration.

Any vibrator can be used externally for anal stimulation, but for anal penetration you should only use a vibrator designed to be an anal vibrator. To be safe for this the vibrator must:

Be seamless, with no sharp edges, rough pointy bits, or anything that can easily come off.
Have a wide flared base, or ring, or something significantly big enough to prevent it from
being drawn up into the rectum. When you insert something in the anus, there is a
suction-like effect where objects can be drawn up into the rectum.

There are three different styles of anal vibrator; butt plugs, anal dildos, and anal beads. People who are interested in exploring anal penetration often find the feeling of vibration is helpful in letting them relax and also in creating more arousal. Unlike external stimulation, when it comes to anal vibration, a little often goes a long way.

Another safety consideration is proper cleaning. An anal vibrator that is made of inexpensive rubber may be porous and impossible to clean properly. For this reason it’s recommended that you select a material that is easy to clean (silicone, metal, hard plastic) or use a condom on your toy each time you use it.

Anal Vibrator Pros:
Vibration can increase relaxation and make anal penetration more fun. Anal vibrators are the only vibrators that are safe for anal penetration. Many anal vibrators are designed to stimulate the prostate in men.

Anal Vibrator Cons:
Less versatile, anal vibrators are usually only good for one thing. An inexpensive or poorly designed anal vibrator may be dangerous. Most anal vibrators contain inexpensive motors and have short life spans.

When choosing an anal vibrator first decide if you’re looking for a plug, dildo, or beads. Some anal vibrators have separate battery packs where the batteries and speed dial are; others have the batteries in the body of the vibrator.

The other key decision is size. It’s always best to start small and work your way up. If you’re looking for an anal vibrator for a man you may want to choose one with a curve for prostate stimulation.

Finally, when possible, getting an anal vibrator with a removable motor is best. This makes it easier to clean and also allows you to replace the motor, which in most cases will die out before the body of the vibrator does.


By Cory Silverberg

Cory Silverberg is an AASECT certified sexuality educator,
author, media contributor and researcher.