Despite the many taboos and myths that surround it, anal play remains incredibly popular, and it only seems to grow more common with each passing year. Recent data shows more than double the amount of 16 to 24-year-olds engaging in anal sex, and studies indicate that people of all sexual orientations participate in anal play regularly. “Anal” and “big ass” placed among PornHub’s top 10 search terms last year, and the “anal” category rated #5 on their most-viewed categories list, which suggests that a lot of people enjoy butt stuff!

However, many people still harbor concerns and queries related to anal play, even if it is something they find interesting. Pain and messiness are two of the most frequently cited reasons people fear the activity.

Regarding pain, anal penetration should never be painful if you’re doing it right. Pain is a signal from your body indicating that you need to slow down and/or back off, and this is especially important when it comes to your rectum, which is a sensitive body part that you do not want to injure permanently.

When it comes to avoiding discomfort and maximizing enjoyment, there are three cardinal rules of butt stuff that you should follow:

  • Use more lube than you think you need.
  • Start with something smaller than you think you need.
  • Go slower than you think you need to.

By following these three rules, you should be able to avoid experiencing pain. However, there is still the issue of potential mess – i.e. the likelihood of poop being present inside the hole it comes out of – which is a scary prospect for many people.

That’s where enema bulbs come in. Let’s talk about them.

What is an enema bulb?

To do an enema is to wash out the lower intestine with water or another liquid. In terms of sex, people typically do enemas prior to anal play to rinse away any leftover fecal matter, making the activity less messy and more comfortable. However, enemas are sometimes utilized for medical reasons, such as when treating constipation.

There are various tools to use when doing an enema, but a simple enema bulb is likely the most common tool, and is the easiest for beginners to master. It consists of a container you fill with water, and a spout that can be placed into your anus.

Enema bulbs are sold in numerous sex shops, both online and offline. If you’re unable to find one, you can purchase a laxative enema at a drugstore and rinse it completely (assuming you don’t need the laxative!) before substituting it with clean tap water.

Is it really necessary to do an enema?

If your diet has sufficient fiber – or if you and your partner(s) simply don’t mind the mess – you might not find anal cleansing necessary.

However, many people choose to use enema bulbs for reasons related to hygiene, because it is considerate towards their partner’s comfort level and gives them peace of mind. Letting go of the hangups related to butt stuff is much easier when you feel confident about your cleanliness. The anal sphincter muscles are very sensitive to tension and stress, making reducing your anxiety about hygiene (and anything else) a way of making anal play feel even more comfortable, pleasurable, and viable.

Are enema bulbs safe to use?

If you are using plain water and not any types of laxative chemicals, which are included in some prepackaged enema products, then enemas are usually safe. However, expert views differ on how frequently is too often. Some people argue that you shouldn’t do more than one per day, while others believe that they should be done sporadically, at the very least.

Some of the most commonly-mentioned potential complications of using enemas too often include:

  • Dryness/irritation of the rectum, which could lead to discomfort, micro-tears, and a greater susceptibility to catching an STI from sex with an infected individual.
  • Disruption of the anal microbiome, which may cause irritation and digestive problems.
  • Becoming reliant on enemas to initiate bowel movements if they’re being used regularly to deal with constipation.
  • Decreasing/loosening anal muscle function (particularly if using too much water, or water which is expelled at a high volume, such as from a shower hose).

All that said, if you use them sparingly, and only use plain, clean water and a clean bulb, enemas are generally safe and shouldn’t have any negative effects. If you’re unsure, you could always inquire with your doctor.

How to use an enema bulb?

First, make sure the bulb you’re using is completely clean. If you use soap to clean it, be sure to use a mild soap (such as Dr. Bronner’s) and rinse it thoroughly, since soap may cause dryness or irritation if it contacts your delicate rectal walls. Thoroughly wash your hands as well.

Next, fill the bulb with plain, room temperature, tap water. Water that is too warm or too cold can be extremely uncomfortable when placed anally and could even interfere with your overall body temperature, so it’s best to stick with water that is of moderate temperature.

Apply water-based lubricant to the nozzle of the enema bulb and your anal opening.

For the next part, you may wish to lie down in a location where accidental spillage is permissible, such as in the bathtub or on the bathroom floor. Some people prefer to do an enema while standing (perhaps in the shower) or while sitting on the toilet; you may want to experiment to see what methods work for you. Slowly insert the nozzle into your anus; if this feels uncomfortable or painful, try warming up with a well-lubricated finger for a few minutes before trying again.

Once the nozzle has been inserted, gradually and softly squeeze the bulb to release water. While continuing to squeeze the nozzle (so it will not suck bacteria from your butt into the bulb), gently remove it from your anus. Use your anal muscles to hold the water inside for a few seconds; you may wish to wiggle around or jump up and down somewhat to aid the cleansing process. When you’re ready, sit on the toilet and let all of the liquid out.

You can do this several times if needed in order to become completely clean. The water should ultimately run clear, indicating that you are ready to go.

You might want to shower afterward in case anything has dripped out. It’s wise to wait roughly one or two hours following an enema before engaging in anal play, since residual water may leak out if you’ve performed an enema recently.

Take the enema bulb apart, extract any remaining fluid, and allow it to dry completely before reassembling and storing it.

Now, you should be prepared for anal play that is relatively mess-free!