/ / What you didn’t know about Anal, Vaginal or oral sex

What you didn’t know about Anal, Vaginal or oral sex

Oral sex:

Oral sex is using your mouth and tongue to stimulate your partner’s genitals or anus. Oral sex can be given to any of the sexes to any of the sexes. A man’s penis does not need to be erect for you to start oral sex (a blow job) but you may want to use your hand to arouse him first. If you hold his penis during oral sex, you can control how deep it goes into your mouth. You can move your hand allowing the penis to go as far into your mouth as you are comfortable with.

A man’s penis is highly sensitive, so be gentle at first and slowly work up to a faster pace. You can try different tongue, mouth and head movements to see what works best but never use your teeth unless asked.

When you give a man oral sex you can stop at any time and it’s up to you to decide if you want to let him ejaculate (or cum) in your mouth. Of course, if he’s wearing a condom this isn’t an issue, and it means you will both be protected against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Before you begin giving a woman oral sex, she may enjoy it if you spend some time kissing and touching her upper thighs and the area around her vagina first, to help her get aroused.

The whole genital area is sensitive, but for most women the clitoris (with its 8,000 nerve endings) is the most sensitive part. Gently part the outer lips of the vagina and look for the vaginal opening, and the hooded clitoris just above it.

Start off softly, using a relaxed tongue to make slow movements and work up to faster movements with a firmer tongue. You can experiment moving your tongue in different ways and try different rhythms – taking cues from your partner to find out what she enjoys most.

Giving oral-anal sex (rimming)?

Performing oral sex on your partner’s anus (also known as rimming) can be part of any sexual relationship, whether gay, bisexual or straight.

If you are concerned about hygiene, ask your partner to wash first. You could also bathe together as part of foreplay.

Before you begin, your partner may like it if you gently kiss and touch the area around the anus including the perineum (the area of skin between the genitals and the anus). You can then focus on the anus, circling your tongue around the outer area and finally inserting your tongue. Remember to listen to your partner and do what they enjoy, whether that’s licking, sucking or gently probing.

If you are giving oral sex to a woman, don’t move from the anus to the vagina as this can transfer bacteria and cause infection.

Can I get HIV and STIs from oral sex?

The risk of HIV transmission from oral sex is very low unless the person receiving oral sex has an STI or sores on their genital area, or the person giving oral sex has sores in their mouth or bleeding gums. If the person living with HIV is on medication and has undetectable levels of HIV then there is no risk of passing the virus on.

However, other STIs can easily be passed on during oral sex, in particular herpesgonorrhoea and syphilis. Certain infections and viruses that are found in faeces (poo) can be passed on through oral–anal sex, this includes hepatitis A and E.coli.

Knowing you have taken precautions to keep you and your partner safe can help make you more relaxed during oral sex. There are simple ways to protect you both:

  • Do not brush your teeth straight beforehand as you may make your mouth or gums bleed.
  • Use a condom if you are giving oral sex to a man or a dental dam for oral sex on a woman or oral-anal sex. A dental dam is a thin, soft plastic cover that acts as a barrier. If you don’t have one you can cut a condom lengthways from bottom to top to make one piece of material that can be used instead. Hold one side of the dam against your partner’s vagina / anus and lick the other. Never turn the dam over, just use one side.
  • If you are having oral sex during your or your partner’s period, using a dam is even more important because menstrual blood can carry bacteria and viruses just like other blood.
  • Avoid getting semen (cum) in your mouth.
  • Avoid oral sex altogether when the risk of passing on any virus or infection is highest, for example, if you have:
  1. sores around your mouth, genitals or anus
  2. any damage to your gums
  3. a throat infection
  4. had any recent dental work.


Be aware that you may not know if you or your partner has an infection as infections can be passed on even if there are no obvious signs or symptoms. If you do have sores around your mouth, genitals or anus, you should get them checked out by a healthcare professional as they may be a sign of an infection.

Should I have oral sex?

Deciding whether to have oral sex is a very personal choice. Only you and your partner can know if you are ready to experiment with oral sex. Think about whether it feels right, and whether you are both comfortable with the decision.

Talking to your partner about protection before you start having oral sex will help make things easier. This may feel embarrassing but taking responsibility for protecting yourself and your partner is an important part of this sexual act. Like all sex, different people enjoy different things.

There is very little risk of HIV infection from oral sex but other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as herpes, gonorrhoea and syphilis are easily passed on. Using a condom or a dental dam helps to protect you from STIs. Avoid oral sex if either of you has sores around your mouth, genitals or anus, or and cuts, bleeding or infection in your throat or mouth.

Anal sex

Many people enjoy anal sex – straight, gay and bisexual.

Having unprotected anal sex puts you at higher risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) than other sex acts. Using a condom correctly protects you and your partner.


The anus is not self-lubricating, so you need to use lots of lubricant. Only use water-based lubricants that are specially designed for sex, oil-based lubricants can cause condoms to break.

If you move on to oral or vaginal sex straight after anal sex use a new condom to avoid cross infection.

Where it is available, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) can be taken to  prevent HIV infection.

Anal sex is any type of sexual activity that involves the anal area. Whether you are thinking of having anal sex for the first time, or you just want more information on how to stay safe and enjoy it, this page will help answer your questions.

What is anal sex?

People usually think of anal sex as when a man’s penis enters the anus, but it also includes using fingers or sex toys in the anus, or licking the anus (‘rimming’). You can read more about oral-anal sex on our ‘How to have oral sex’ page.

Anyone can enjoy anal sex, whether they are a man, woman, gay, bisexual or straight, and whether they are giving or receiving it. Although many gay men enjoy it, some prefer not to have penetrative anal sex. It is up to you to decide what you want to experiment with and to find out what you enjoy.

How do you have anal sex?

When you first explore the anal area it can feel strange, so before you begin make sure you and your partner have talked about it and are both happy to try it out. If you find you don’t like it, explain to your partner that anal sex isn’t for you.

If you decide to have penetrative anal sex, start slowly with touching and caressing to get used to the idea and make sure you are relaxed. This is important because there is a muscle in the anus (the sphincter) that needs to be relaxed to allow penetration to be comfortable. If you are giving anal sex, use plenty of lubricant and start by penetrating just a little and then pulling out completely. When your partner is ready, penetrate a bit further and then pull out again. Continue with this until you are fully in. Make sure you listen to your partner and understand how they feel – be prepared to stop at any time if they are uncomfortable or in pain.

Anal sex can feel stimulating and pleasurable for both the person giving and receiving – but it can also take a while to get used to how it feels. If it doesn’t go perfectly the first time you can always try again when you’re both in the mood. Remember that you can pause or stop whenever you want. Just because you have started something doesn’t mean you need to continue.

How do I stimulate a man’s prostate gland?

Many men have nerve endings in their prostate as well as their anus, and they often enjoy having these stimulated. The prostate is between the bladder and the penis and can be stimulated with a finger or sex toy in the anus. However, there are lots of blood vessels in and around the prostate and it can get bruised if handled roughly, so treat it gently and use lots of lube.

Is anal sex painful?

For many people anal sex is a pleasurable part of their sex life. However, whether you are a man or a woman, penetrative anal sex can be uncomfortable or even painful if rushed, especially if it’s your first time.

Luckily, there are things you can do to reduce any pain. These include making sure you are relaxed, going slowly, using lots of water-based lubrication and working your way up to penetration with the penis with smaller objects such as fingers or sex toys.

Continual communication is the best way to make sure you both enjoy anal sex. If at any time you feel it is too uncomfortable or painful then you should stop immediately.

Anal sex, HIV and STI

Having anal sex increases your risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, gonorrhoea and syphilis. However, there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your partner.

The lining of the anus is thin and tears easily, which makes it more vulnerable to infection. So, if you are the receptive partner (often called the ‘bottom’) you have a higher risk of STIs and HIV from unprotected anal sex than many other types of sex.

Whether you are a man or woman, straight, bisexual or gay, follow this advice to reduce the risk for both you and your partner:

Use protection – You can use either an external (male) condom (which goes on the penis) or an internal condom (also called a female condom) which is inserted into the anus before sex, just as it would be used in the vagina. Some people feel safer using extra-thick condoms for anal sex. You should also put condoms on any sex toys you are using, making sure you change them between partners. Dental dams are a good form of protection for rimming.

Taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is another way to prevent HIV infection, but it may not be available everywhere.

Infections or bacteria can be passed from the anus to the vagina or the mouth so be careful when switching between different types of sex. Always wash your fingers, penis or sex toys when you move from one area to another and make sure you use a new condom.

Love lube – Unlike the vagina, the anus doesn’t produce its own lubrication, so it’s important to use a good lube to make sex more comfortable and to prevent damage to the anus.

Don’t use your partner’s semen (cum) as a lubricant. Always use a water-based lube which is specially designed for sex. Oil-based lubricants (such as baby oil and Vaseline) can weaken condoms and make them more likely to break.

Clean gently – Some people clean their anus before anal sex because they want to be sure there is no faeces (poo). If you decide to do this, only use water or a mild soap and be very gentle, otherwise you might damage, tear or scratch the anus putting you at greater risk of STIs.

Consider PrEP – Taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is one way to prevent HIV infection. If you think you are at high risk of HIV it may be a good option for you to consider but remember it only protects against HIV not other STIs.

Seek help – If you’ve had unprotected anal sex and are worried about possible HIV infection, go and see a healthcare professional straight away. You may be able to take post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent HIV infection, but it has to be taken within 72 hours for it to work. Remember PEP is not a replacement for condoms and isn’t available everywhere.

Get tested – You can protect yourselves and others best if you know your status. Have regular tests for HIV and other STIs so that you can get the treatment you need and take precautions to protect others. Remember that if you are living with HIV and on anti-HIV medication then the level of HIV in your blood can become undetectable making it impossible for you to pass on the virus.

Stay in control – Avoid excessive alcohol or drug consumption as they can stop you from feeling pain, or make you take risks you wouldn’t normally take.

Pregnancy –Technically, it’s not possible to get pregnant from anal sex as there’s no way for semen to get from inside the anus to the vagina, but there is a small chance of semen leaking out and dripping into the vagina after anal sex. Using condoms is the best way to make sure you are always protected properly against STIs and pregnancy.

Should I have anal sex?

As with any type of sex, it’s important that both people want to have anal sex and that no one feels pressured or forced into doing anything they don’t want to do.

Talk to your partner about protection before you start having anal sex.  Remember that having unprotected anal sex puts you and your partner at higher risk of HIV and other STIs than other sexual activities. Being safe will help you both feel more relaxed and make sex more enjoyable.

Vaginal sex

During vaginal sex, the penis goes into the vagina. Foreplay is important. It gets you both sexually aroused and ready so that vaginal sex is more enjoyable for both partners. Having sex without a condom puts you and your partner at risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV. Condoms are the best form of protection against unplanned pregnancy and STIs. For condoms to work effectively they need to be in place before the penis touches or enters the vagina. Discussing safer sex is an important part of having sex.


You might be thinking about having sex for the first time and are not sure where to start. Or maybe you want more information on how to make it pleasurable and safe? Whatever your situation here is some answers to some common questions about vaginal sex.

What is vaginal sex?

During vaginal sex (also known as penetrative vaginal sex, sexual intercourse, and just sex) the penis goes into the vagina.

If you watch movies or look at pornography you may have a very unrealistic idea of what sex is like. There is no one right way of having vaginal sex. It can be a very gentle, intimate experience or a passionate, adventurous one and many other things in between. You can try having sex however you and your partner would like to.

What is foreplay?

Sometimes called heavy petting, foreplay helps to get both people sexually aroused (or turned on) and ready for vaginal sex. It can involve kissing, stroking, caressing, rubbing, touching, or oral sex. Foreplay should be enjoyable for both partners. Some people choose to stick to foreplay and not have penetrative sex.

If you are both ready to have vaginal sex, the more aroused you both are, the easier it will be for the penis to enter the vagina. You’ll know you’re getting aroused when the vagina begins to moisten and the penis becomes erect, getting bigger and harder.


We spent ages on foreplay, kissing, fingering, and lots of oral as it was both of our first times. When we did decide to have sex, we used a condom and lots of lube and he was very gentle, kept asking me if he was hurting me and how I felt. It did hurt a bit, but not as much as I was expecting.

When should I put on a condom?

Once you are both aroused and ready to have the sex you can put on an external (male) condom. This can be done by either of you. You can only put a condom on an erect penis, and you should do this before the penis touches or enters the vagina.

If you are using an internal (female) condom it can be put in up to eight hours before sex.

How do you get the penis into the vagina?

When you are ready, one of you can use your hand to gently guide the penis into the vagina. Take your time, and don’t worry if it takes a few goes to get it in properly – especially when you are still getting used to each other’s bodies.

Once the penis is inside, you can move your body so that the penis pushes into the vagina and then pulls partly out again. Do what comes naturally and feels good – take it slowly, be gentle, and make sure you are both comfortable.

Remember that just because you started something doesn’t mean you have to continue. You or your partner can pause or stop at any time if you are not comfortable with what you are doing.

Will I orgasm?

When you are very aroused, tension builds up in your body, the sexual pressure is then released in a sudden pleasurable rush called an orgasm, coming or climaxing. For women, the most sensitive part of their body is the clitoris, a small bump just above the opening to the vagina. It is full of nerve endings and very sensitive to touch. Many women need their clitoris to be stimulated to have an orgasm. You can try different positions for vaginal sex that allow you to move your bodies in a way that rubs the clitoris. Some people choose for them or their partner to touch the clitoris during penetrative sex to stimulate it.

For most men, the action involved in thrusting the penis in the vagina stimulates the nerve endings in the penis and causes them to orgasm.

Don’t worry if you don’t have an orgasm straight away or even at all. It takes time to get to know what works for you and for your partner. Both men and women can enjoy vaginal sex even if it does not make them climax.

What is the best position for vaginal sex?

Different people enjoy different things and there are many possible options. One common position is the ‘missionary position’, this involves the woman lying down, with the man lying or sitting on top. Alternatively, the woman can be on top, you can both lie on your sides or you can have vaginal sex from behind (where the woman’s back is turned towards the man).

If you are having sex for the first time, choose a position you both feel comfortable with. As you get to know each other’s bodies better, you can experiment with different positions and work out what you both like.

You may also want to experiment with sex toys or having anal sex or oral sex. If you do move from anal sex to vaginal sex you should put on a new condom to make sure you do not infect the vagina with bacteria. After a while, you might find certain movements, positions, and ways of touching that lead to one or both of you having an orgasm. Don’t be too concerned if this doesn’t happen straight away or even at all. It takes time to get to know what works for you sexually – and for your partner – and sex can be enjoyable whether you climax or not.


After sex

If you are using an external (male) condom, you should hold on to the condom when the penis is withdrawn to make sure it does not come off. Do not wait too long to withdraw, the penis should still be erect so that there is no risk of the condom slipping off or semen leaking out.

What are the risks of pregnancy, STIs, and HIV from vaginal sex?

Having vaginal sex without using a condom, puts you and your partner at risk of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV.

While there are many different types of contraception to prevent pregnancy only condoms will also protect you and your partner from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV. Remember that not all STIs have obvious symptoms, so either of you may have an STI and not know it.

If one of you has HIV, is on medication, and has an undetectable viral load it will be impossible to pass on HIV during sex. If your partner has HIV but you don’t, you may want to consider taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV infection but be aware that it only protects against HIV, not other STIs.

The responsibility for protecting against pregnancy and STIs should be shared between you both. It’s a good idea to talk to each other about protection before you start having sex.  Being safe should help you both feel more relaxed and make sex more enjoyable. If you find it too difficult or embarrassing to talk about safer sex, it could be a sign that you aren’t ready to start having sex just yet. That’s fine – remember that there are lots of ways to enjoy being together and to explore your sexual feelings until the time is right.

If you’ve had unprotected sex make sure you seek healthcare advice as soon as possible. You’ll be able to access emergency contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy, and if you are worried that you have been exposed to HIV, you can take post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent HIV infection. You can also be tested for other STIs.

If you are having sex, it’s a good idea to get tested for HIV and other STIs regularly. This will help keep you and any partner you have healthy.

Should I have vaginal sex?

Deciding whether to have sex is a very personal thing. You may think that everyone around you is having sex but that simply isn’t true. Some don’t enjoy it, others choose not to, and some decide to wait. It’s important that both people are enthusiastic about having sex and that no one feels pressured or forced into doing anything they don’t want to do. Talk to your partner and keep communicating to make sure you have their consent. If you and your partner are keen and relaxed, sex can be a very pleasurable experience for you both.



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