Vaginas are the pampered show ponies of the underwear area: Meticulously shaven or waxed, their delicate internal balance of bacteria carefully managed. But have you thought about the health of your butt lately? Anuses require just as good treatment as their front-facing peers, and that includes refraining from putting things in or around your butt that don’t belong there.
Once people get over the initial difficulties of having anal sex — the tightness, the need for artificial lubrication, and the desire for cleanliness — they sometimes believe that the gates are open, and the butt will happily and healthily accept basically anything. Not so!
“The anal area is home to the trillions of bacteria that are found in the colon,” OB-GYN Dr. Felice Gersh, M.D., tells Bustle. “Many of these bacteria can cause infections when inoculated into other sites.”
The anal area isn't like the vagina; while you do have an internal bacterial balance in the colon and rectum, your butthole doesn't often deal with disturbances to this flora that come from outside. The skin around your rectum is super delicate and subject to inflammation, and can't be regarded as some rough-and-tumble John Wayne of orifices. You've got to treat it right, in all arenas of your life — sexually, medically, and recreationally.
Here are nine substances and objects never to put in or near your butt, to make sure you keep your backdoor safe and happy.
1. A Colonic
Getting a colonic involves flushing the colon through the butt with warm water, with the implication being that doing so can clean out excess waste, help you lose weight, or give you a “glow.” These purported benefits, however, have been roundly debunked. It's an unnecessary procedure that may clean out useful bacterial flora in the colon, and exposes you to risks like perforated bowels and infections from improperly cleaned colonic tubes. It’s not considered safe to have your colon flushed, per experts at Cedars-Sinai Hospital; it should only be done under extreme medical circumstances in emergencies. (Colonics are distinct from enemas, which just flush out the lower bowel through an injection of fluid or gas, and are thought to be much safer. So, it is safe to put water up your bum — to a degree.)
2. Any Sex Toy Not Specifically Designed For Use In Butts
A vibrator is a vibrator is a vibrator, right? Well, not really. Dildos, vibes, and other sex toys are great fun, but most are designed with specific orifices in mind, and are not intended to be multi-purpose. Some toys are intended for use in both vaginas and anuses, but they'll tell you so.
“Only use toys designed for butt play in your butt,” sex educator and owner of feminist sex shop Early to Bed Searah Deysach previously told Bustle. Why? Because toys without a flanged base — meaning they’re flared at the bottom — can get lost and become hard to remove.
Massaging the prostate is not the same as finding the G-spot, and so a tool designed to do one will not easily do the other. If you intend to do some anal play with toys, invest in a specifically-designed anal vibrator, plug, or beads.
Putting food you’re planning to eat into the butt, or anywhere near it, is a surefire way to cause issues, Dr. Gersh says. This includes carrots, cucumbers, and anything else that looks roughly phallic. “Contamination of food this way can cause illness,” she says. Even if you’re not planning to eat it, food items can carry their own bacteria, even after washing; worse still, organic matter can easily break apart. Cucumber anal might be a category in someone’s private video collection, but it’s not something to try at home.
4. In Fact, Any Non-Sex-Toy Object Used As A Sex Toy
It can be very, very tempting to look into the cupboard, fridge, or wherever else to find a DIY anal toy. Every medical student who has ever done a stint in the ER has a story about a non-toy object that was inserted into the anus and then, for some reason or another, was not able to be removed. Toys for anal play are on the market for a reason; they're designed to get pleasure and not get stuck or lost in there, Deysach told Bustle.
5. Anything That Will Then Be Put In The Vagina
Anybody who has ever had a UTI has this information seared into their brain. Making "truffle butter," as made famous by the Nicki Minaj song, risks infection. Any movement from the butthole to the genitals without a thorough cleaning in between — and this applies to fingers, toys, or anything else — transfers bacteria from fecal matter between your butt and vagina. This is a recipe for a UTI or worse. Switch condoms before switching orifices, sexologist Dr. Laura Deitsch previously told Bustle.
6. Rubbing Alcohol, Or Anything Else Astringent
Anal tissue is pretty sensitive stuff, as anyone who has ever experienced a hemorrhoid will understand. Using anything like disinfectant or rubbing alcohol on your booty is likely to irritate the delicate tissue and cause problems like sensitivity, itching, burning, or other nasties, according to Health Direct. Cleaning up your bum area, especially before sex, may feel like good preparation for anal or other explorations, but astringents may cause irritation. Regular old soap and water will do just fine.
7. Scented Baby Wipes, Or Other Scented Products
Though non-scented wipes are often recommended to clean up after anal sex, scented baby wipes are known to be a potential cause of irritant contact dermatitis, according to a 2014 study published in Pediatrics. Some people may experience irritation or other problems if they use not just scented baby wipes, but scented soaps, shower gels, or even some kinds of dyed toilet paper on their butts, as their skin may be sensitive to chemicals. Scents of any kind can cause contact dermatitis, which means irritated skin, around your intimate bits, dermatologist Dr. Kally Papantoniou, M.D., FAAD, previously told Bustle.
8. Any Body Parts Without Protection
You should keep your lips, your eyes and your tongue away from anybody’s butt without protection, Dr. Gersh says. Otherwise, you risk spreading bacteria and giving yourself an infection. Keep a supply of gloves and dental dams along with your condoms in order to maximize protection.
9. Alcohol Of Any Kind
Introducing alcohol into the rectum for the purposes of getting drunk — butt-chugging, by another name — will technically achieve its intended purpose, because the alcohol will be absorbed into the bloodstream, but it's also extremely dangerous. Alcohol enemas bypass one of the body's safety mechanisms for reducing alcohol’s toxicity: the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, which breaks down ethanol in the stomach and liver, Benjamin Voight, Ph.D., an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine, previously told Bustle. Alcohol enemas appear to be restricted to rare incidents, but regular old shots are a far safer way to get drunk. (In moderation, of course.)
Searah Deysach, sex educator
Felice Gersh M.D.
Kally Papantoniou M.D.
Dr. Laura Deitsch, sexologist
Benjamin Voight, Ph.D.
Chang, M. W., & Nakrani, R. (2014). Six children with allergic contact dermatitis to methylisothiazolinone in wet wipes (baby wipes). Pediatrics, 133(2), e434–e438. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2013-1453
Guglietta A. (2017). Recurrent urinary tract infections in women: risk factors, etiology, pathogenesis and prophylaxis. Future microbiology, 12, 239–246. https://doi.org/10.2217/fmb-2016-0145
Ologun, G. O., Stevenson, Y., Cagir, B., Granet, P., & McPhail, P. (2018). Successful Retrieval of a Retained Rectal Foreign Body in the Emergency Department. Cureus, 10(1), e2025. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.2025
Seki, T., & Fukushima, H. (2019). Self-administered alcohol enema causing chemical proctocolitis. Open access emergency medicine : OAEM, 11, 129–132. https://doi.org/10.2147/OAEM.S208214
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