Condoms are not just for preventing unplanned pregnancies. They are quite suitable for preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Additionally, they also provide an excellent lubrication. Hence, using condoms can be good for anal sex.
Nonetheless, many people do not use condoms while having vaginal or anal sex for different reasons. This may unnecessarily increase the risk of various health issues.
Regretfully, anal sex is among the less-discussed topics. Nonetheless, it is vital to understand how to have anal sex safely. Without condoms, the risk of specific health conditions increases significantly during anal sex.
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Risk of sexually transmitted diseases
That is easy to understand. Nonetheless, this topic requires some discussion.
Although, without condoms, there is an increased risk of just any STD, from bacterial to viral infections. However, without condoms, there is a significant increase in the risk of life-threatening viral diseases like hepatitis and, more importantly, HIV infection1.
Data shows that anal sex is the riskiest of all sexual activities. There are several reasons for this. There are higher chances of local trauma during anal sex, especially when not using condoms and proper lubrication.
Additionally, rectal tissues are more likely to allow entry of various infections and viruses than vaginal walls. This means that anal sex results in a higher viral or bacterial load, and the chances of survival of infection in the body are higher.
All this means that using condoms is even more important when having anal sex. It not only helps protect due to its barrier function but also due to better lubrication.
Risk of bacterial infections
If you engage in anal sex without condoms, there is a greater risk of bacterial infections. It is vital to understand that the rectum lining does not produce protective mucus produced by the vagina but has a thinner lining.
All this means that one needs better care and lubrication during anal sex, or there is a greater risk of damage to rectal lining, which may become complicated by various bacterial infections.
Additionally, it is worth understanding that the human large intestine has a huge bacterial population. These bacteria generally do not cause infection.
However, many of them are opportunistic, which means that they might cause anal infection if the lining is disrupted. All this increases the risk of anal abscesses and deep skin infections.
All this can be prevented with certain precautions like slow anal sex, the use of lubrication, and, even more importantly, by using condoms.
Local trauma and bleeding
Though severe trauma is rare, nonetheless, such risk is always present. In rare cases, using too much penetrative force may even cause colon perforation. Further, anal sex also increases the risk of Bleeding due to worsening of anal fissures and may even make hemorrhoids worse.
However, the risk of all these issues can be minimized by using the right kind of technique, sex position, and use of lube. Additionally, using condoms may also help reduce the risk of such issues.
Increased risk of unplanned pregnancy
Though any such risk is minimal, nonetheless, it is there. Often partners may have both vaginal and anal sex, or one may penetrate the vagina accidentally, or some sperms might make their way to the vagina.
Despite the minimal risk, unplanned pregnancy cannot be ruled out completely. However, using condoms would almost rule out any such risk.
Higher risk of fecal incontinence
This is one of the less discussed long-term risks of anal sex due to continuous stretching of the anal sphincter. One of the studies published in 2016 found that though the risk is not very significant, but it is still there. It means those who regularly have anal sex are more likely to suffer from this chronic health issue2.
This overstretching of anal sphincter and microtrauma has much to do with poor lubrication. It means that using condoms can help reduce the risk of this chronic health issue later in life.
People have anal sex for pleasure. However, not using a condom would generally result in lesser pleasure, especially for the recipient of anal sex. This is again related to lower lubrication.
Further, condoms have some additional protective action, which may help prevent pains during anal sex, thus contributing to greater pleasure.
It is vital to remember that bleeding, pain, and infection due to anal sex are not normal. If a person having anal sex experiences these issues frequently, it means the wrong sex technique. Such issues can readily be prevented by using the right kind of sexual position, being slow, and using condoms.
If done in the right manner, anal sex may lead to orgasm. Even if it does not, it is still a pleasurable activity.
This feeling of pleasure for a receptive partner occurs due to the stimulation of specific nerves and the prostate. For a person on the receptive end, condoms are especially important as they are protective and might also add to the pleasure.
The Bottom Line
Anal sex is often regarded as a riskier type of sex. However, this risk is not for the reason most people believe. Anal sex, if done right, does not cause pain or bleeding and does not lead to extreme anal stretching. It is quite a safe and pleasurable activity.
All the negative issues that arise after having anal sex are due to the wrong technique. This may mean being harsh or fast, not using lubricants, paying insufficient attention to personal hygiene, not using lubes, and not using condoms.
Using condoms can help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases like hepatitis and HIV. It can also help prevent local bacterial infections.
Above all, using a condom may considerably add to the pleasure of the receptive partner. Therefore, adding a condom to anal sex must not be viewed as something optional. Instead, everyone engaging in anal sex must be using condoms.
- Ways HIV Can Be Transmitted | HIV Transmission | HIV Basics | HIV/AIDS | CDC. Published March 30, 2022. Accessed September 14, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/hiv-transmission/ways-people-get-hiv.html
- Markland AD, Dunivan GC, Vaughan CP, Rogers RG. Anal Intercourse and Fecal Incontinence: Evidence from the 2009–2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Am J Gastroenterol. 2016;111(2):269-274. doi:10.1038/ajg.2015.419