Anal sex carries a high risk for both partners for most sexually transmitted infections (STIs). So it’s a good thing you’ve come to the page where you can find out how to have safer anal sex.

What is anal sex?

Anal sex is when a penis or sex toy is inserted into the anus.

Why is anal sex a high-risk activity?

Anal sex is a high-risk activity because bacteria and viruses from an infected partner can easily enter the bloodstream during sex. This is because the inside of the anus is very thin and infections can pass through it easily.

Being the receiver of anal sex carries the greater risk of infection, though it is very risky for both partners. Although using a condom reduces these risks, if it breaks it’s easy for any infection to pass between sexual partners.

What are the risks from anal sex?

Many sexual infections, including HIV, gonorrhoea, syphilis, Hepatitis B and C, and chlamydia can be present in semen and inside the anus. Herpes sores and genital warts can form inside the anus where they might not be noticed.  Find out more about these sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Because the anus is not as well lubricated as the mouth or vagina, the skin there can break during sex. This can allow infected semen directly into the bloodstream. The delicate skin around the head of the penis can also break during sex and allow infection from the anus into the bloodstream. This is why, for anal sex, it’s important to use lots of water-based lubrication as well as condoms.

How can I reduce the risks from anal sex?

To reduce risks from anal sex:

  • always use a condom
  • use lots of condom-safe lubrication
  • always use a dental dam or cut up condom to kiss or lick someone’s anus
  • change condoms before switching to oral or vaginal sex
  • change condoms if having sex for a long time.
  • use a fresh condom if sharing anal toys
  • wash hands thoroughly before touching the face or genitals