What Place Does Pleasure Have in an Emergency?
Written by Emily Athena
If you live anywhere on the west coast, chances are you are or were close to a fire or socked in with smoke. To our nervous system, this is an emergency. Being afraid or uneasy is an appropriate response to these conditions. We are evolutionarily hardwired to engage with (fight), run away from (flee), or disassociate from (freeze) threats, and fires and smoke are most definitely threats to our survival.
However, at this very moment most likely you are somewhat OK, otherwise you probably wouldn’t be reading this. While you might know that intellectually, your body could still be on high alert. How do you tell your body that despite these dangerous conditions, you are OK?
There are more nerve pathways running from the body to the brain than the brain to the body, which means that telling yourself you are OK via speech or thought is not the most efficient way to communicate with your body. Most bodies respond more readily to changes in feeling. Then the question becomes, how do you change how you feel during a time of emergency?
3 ways: External orientation, body attention, and pleasure!
First, look around. Let your eyes leave the screen and wander through the space you are in. Can you see that despite what’s happened, your current surroundings are a safe place to be? Let your eyes register what is safe and pleasant about where you are. Take your time with this. You can even name the safe things in your environment to yourself (soft blanket, green houseplant, tea kettle, etc). Do you notice any changes to your breath, body, or thoughts by simply looking around? External orientation informs your body that in this exact moment, you are safe where you are.
Being vigilant about staying informed is an appropriate response during an emergency, but it can get overwhelming. If you feel overwhelmed, see if you can take a mini-break from the information hunt and instead notice your body.
- Can you feel your body?
- Can you feel your lower body?
- Can you feel the effect of gravity on your body or maybe where your body makes contact with the support beneath you or ground below you?
- Can you feel a place or sensation in your body that feels pleasant? If not pleasant, neutral?
Focus on that for as long as your attention will let you. Again notice if there are any changes in your breath, body, or thoughts by doing this. Maybe all you feel is grief. That’s OK. Can you feel the aliveness in feeling such a profound emotion and perhaps the relief of releasing tears if that’s what wants to happen?
Taking in even the smallest bits of pleasure makes more space within us to handle adversity. It strengthens our wherewithal to withstand stress. What stress drains in us, pleasure replenishes.
Pleasure is anything that feels good. Think about the simple, embodied, everyday pleasures that are readily available to you. Orient toward those things that bring you more in touch with the feeling of pleasure in your body as opposed to numbing out and escaping. You probably already experienced this by looking around your space and noticing your body. Some other examples include laughter from watching comedy, connecting with loved ones, helping out or volunteering, sharing a meaningful conversation, smile or hug, cuddling, listening to your favorite music, dancing, positive imagery, eating your favorite food, self-pleasure, sex, etc.
All of it counts, even 10 seconds of feeling a little bit better than terrible is a respite for your nervous system. Engaging in pleasure is not selfish, frivolous, or escapist. You do not need to do anything to deserve it. Pleasure is a healing resource and a necessary part of living through an emergency. Engage with it and gently encourage others too as well. Our communities will be stronger for it, for when we are connected to pleasure we are kinder, more present, and more available to those around us.
What comes to mind when you think about anal sex? For many people, the idea of anal play conjures some unpleasant reactions. Some have had negative experiences with previous attempts, and some have negative connotations about what butt stuff is like, or the kinds of people who might want it. But the truth is that anal is an option for everybody who wants to participate in it -- every body’s got a booty, after all!
No matter what you may believe, safe, pleasurable, and fun anal play is within reach. Your anal session probably won’t look like it does in porn, but trust us, that’s a good thing. Anal scenes in pornography often skip over the extremely important setup and foreplay that safe and pleasurable anal sex requires, and skip over most of the safety and hygiene practices that are required. Simply put, porn exists to turn us on, not to teach us.
But don’t worry; that’s what we’re here for! Here, we will walk you through the process -- from before you begin, to after you’re finished. We encourage anyone who is looking to get into anal to keep an open mind! You may have preconceived notions or personal fears about anal sex, and it’s important to work through those feelings if you want to have a good anal experience. Everyone’s anal adventure is different, because every body is different! So keep an open mind, listen to your body, and pay special attention to what feels good. Remember, the purpose of all play is pleasure!
So with that in mind, let’s get into it:
Let’s begin by talking about butts themselves! If we want to please that part of our bodies, it’s important to know the anatomy we’re working with. On the outside, there are lots of ultra-sensitive nerve endings that can be stimulated in a myriad of ways. The perineum -- or the area between the anus and genitals -- is a haven for nerve endings. Often, this area enjoys being stimulated with pressure or gentle massage.
The opening of our anus itself is also packed with sensitive nerve endings. Many people think that anal play must include penetration of some kind, but that is absolutely not true! Rimming -- the act of stimulating the anus externally using mouth, fingers, or a vibrating toy -- is a sensation that many enjoy. If you’re considering trying anal stimulation but feeling a little hesitant or uncertain, rimming and other kinds of external play is a great way to start exploring!
The inside of the anus is defined by two rings of muscle. The external ring we can consciously control, and it is this muscle that we use when we bear down or clench our anal muscles. However, the internal ring is more complex. We cannot consciously control our inner anal ring; it tightens or relaxes subconsciously, and is often affected by our mood. For example, if we are feeling nervous or afraid, that muscle will tighten. Trying to force entry through this ring when it’s too tight can cause extreme pain, which is why many people have negative experiences with trying anal penetration. Instead of moving too quickly or rushing to penetration, we must slowly coax our bodies into relaxing. This can mean waiting until we are relaxed, working to change our mindset and giving our bodies time to follow, giving our bodies other kinds of pleasure to relax it manually, or even having an orgasm before trying anal penetration!
Within the body is the rectum, which is the area that will be occupied with toys or body parts when we experience penetration. The rectum contains within it a huge amount of nerves, making it extremely sensitive. Sensations of friction and fullness often create pleasure internally. For some bodies, the rectum is also the place to access the prostate. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that most penis-owners have, and is located a few inches inside the anus on the inside wall of the rectum. Many prostate-owners find that stimulating the prostate, either with fingers, penises, or toys, gives them extreme pleasure that can lead to orgasm. For bodies without prostates, anal penetration can stimulate the g-spot -- or even the clitoris -- from a different angle, leading to different pleasurable sensations.
No matter your anatomy, the anus is full of sensitive nerves. Anal play is all about learning how best to stimulate them!
Humans have evolved to use tools, and there are a few items that we suggest to help you as you engage in your anal exploration.
First -- and most importantly -- lube! Because the rectum doesn’t produce its own lubrication (unlike the vagina), it’s critically important that any anal activity is supplemented with ample amounts of lube. There are many different kinds of lubricant out there, and what you use is largely dependent on personal preference, and the materials of toys you would like to use. For rimming, many people enjoy a flavored water-based lube. Many use coconut oil for external play and digital anal penetration, because it is long-lasting, slippery, and protects the sensitive skin cells of the anus and rectum. For penetration with toys, a hybrid lubricant or a very thick water-based lubricant may be preferred, depending on the material of the toy. For penetration with a penis, silicone lubricant will last the longest and provide the smoothest glide. Experiment with several different kinds of lubricant to see what your body responds to best! Just be careful to check the ingredients to ensure they are non-toxic, body-safe, and compatible with whatever toys you want to use.
While it can be difficult to get lubricant inside the body, lube shooters make that process easier. Similar to a syringe, the shooter utilizes a plunger to draw lube inside, and features a small spout that allows you to deposit the lube internally with ease. Don’t be stingy with lubricant, either -- make sure you’re applying plenty, and re-applying often.
Many people like to use toys for anal stimulation. The most important thing when looking for toys to stimulate your booty is to make sure that it has a flared base. Unlike the vagina, the rectum does not have a set end point, meaning that toys without a flared base run the risk of being pulled into the body and getting stuck. In the worst cases, it can require a hospital visit to remove stuck items.
Toys that are designed with this flared base for anal stimulation are often called 'butt plugs.' Plugs come in a wide range of sizes and shapes. From plugs that are smaller than the average index finger, to much larger inner-band training plugs, there is a plug for every body and every experience level. Straight plugs will help you get used to the sensation of “fullness” commonly associated with anal penetration, while curved plugs are often designed to put pressure against the prostate. Explore and experiment to find what size and shape is right for you! You can also use anal beads, which are toys that gradually increase in size along their length. Beads help to slowly help your body stretch to accept penetration. When removed slowly, beads teach your body to relax and slowly open. In addition, there are many different anal training toy sets, typically consisting of multiple toys in gradually increasing sizes. These sets are particularly helpful if you hope to work your way from the beginner level into larger toys, or penetration with a dildo or a penis.
Many people use plugs to prepare their bodies for penetration, while others wear plugs during other sex acts for additional stimulation. Some plugs vibrate for an extra kick of sensation. Plugs can be made of glass, stainless steel, aluminum, or body-safe silicone, and each material has different benefits and creates different sensations. When choosing an anal toy, personal preference is paramount, and the possibilities are endless!
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The Little Flirt is barely a pinky width at the tip and only a finger width at the center, a petite 0.8″ wide by 3.35″ long, making it the perfect introduction to anal play. Adding the long neck helps the plug stay put and keeps the Little Flirt one of the best anal toys for beginners.$30.00 Select options
Coconu is a Coconut Oil-Based lubricant that will stimulate your senses for deeply satisfying sexual experiences while the organic ingredients provide real, natural health benefits.
Its long-lasting formula is designed to protect and moisturize dry or sensitive vaginal and anal tissues. It’s USDA-certified organic formula is 100% edible, works great as a massage oil and doesn’t contain any alcohol, petroleum, parabens, gluten, fragrances or dyes.
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Going from zero to penetration is a big no-no. That’s where our anal training kit comes in — Anal training means taking the time, care, and vital steps to prepare your body for anal sex. We believe that education is the key to enjoy anal play. So we are featuring this 7-piece set to equip you with everything you need to safely prepare for anal penetration.$150.00 Add to cart
Hygiene & Safety
One of the main reasons that some people are hesitant to try anal play is due to their conceptions of anal hygiene. It’s important to note that while anal sex does involve the part of the body where fecal matter comes from, and it’s possible to encounter some during anal play, it’s unlikely that you will encounter a lot. Because fecal matter is not actually stored in the rectum, and only moves into the rectum when we actively have to defecate, the area we are playing with should be mostly clean. Lifestyle, diet, and physical or digestive abilities will have an effect on the body, and it’s best to know your body well before engaging in anal play.
But if you are concerned about hygiene, there are a few steps that you can take to make sure your experience is as clean as possible:
You should always go to the bathroom and empty your bowels 30-60 minutes before engaging in anal play. Once your bowels are empty, you can wash the outside of your body with gentle soap and water. Hypoallergenic baby wipes are also very helpful for pre-play cleanup!
If you desire extra cleanliness, you may enjoy a gentle enema 1-2 hours before engaging in anal play. There are simple bulb-styles that are easy to use in the restroom, as well as in-shower options to work into your bathing routine. We suggest using warm water only; our booties don’t respond well to chemicals, perfumes, or strong soap.
Remember never to use the same object to stimulate the vagina or the mouth that was just in contact with the anus or rectum without washing up, first. This means no moving from anal penetration to vaginal or oral penetration with the same toy or body part, unless you wash it first. If you’ve been using your fingers to stimulate someone anally, make sure you wash your hands before moving on to other sensitive anatomy. Failure to keep our tools clean will spread bacteria and encourage infections in both ourselves and our partners. When in doubt, pause and wash up!
If the idea of running to the sink between every act isn’t appealing, barriers are a wonderful help! Barriers do more than make your sex safer, they also make it more hygenic. If you want to use a toy without stopping to clean it up afterward, you can simply place a condom over the toy. Then when you’re ready, remove it for instant cleanup! If you use your fingers to stimulate the anus or rectum, you can always wear gloves. That way, you can simply remove the gloves when you’re finished instead of stopping to wash your hands. Gloves can also introduce a different sensation, and the application of gloves can become a very erotic part of your scene-setting. If you’re worried about your bed, you may choose to lie a towel down beneath your hips to protect your space from any mess that might occur, and help to streamline cleanup.
Remember that all kinds of sex have the potential to get messy. Mess is a part of life! If you do get messy during sex -- whether while participating in anal or any other act -- just keep calm, and clean up! You may be able to get back into a sexy mood after a quick shower, and continue participating in other kinds of play. Or you may be turned off enough by the mess that you need to end the scene if it gets too messy, and that’s ok, too! You are the only person who gets to set your boundaries, and decide when to stop.
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The sleek Nexus Anal Douche offers one step insertion for simple yet effective intimate cleansing before and after anal play.
A tactile, high quality rubber bulb and smooth plastic nozzle makes the product quick and easy to operate. The non-return valve ensures that no water flows back into the bulb during use.
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Take It In Steps
One of the most important things to remember when engaging in anal play is to move in steps. Diving in too fast risks hurting the receiving partner. You never want to begin with penetration. Instead, start with external play! We highly recommend rimming as a method to warm your body up to the potential for anal penetration. Using fingers, lips, or tongue, or toys to stimulate the anus from the outside helps the body become aroused, increase blood flow and sensitivity to the area, and help turn the receiving partner on. The more relaxed and turned on the receiving partner is, the better your anal adventure will be! Only attempt penetration once your partner is relaxed, their body is warmed up, and ample lubricant has been applied.
Many people like to engage in ‘training’ before participating in anal sex, which means using small penetrative toys to help your body get used to being opened up. Training can last anywhere from a few hours, to a few days! Some find that wearing a butt plug for awhile before participating in anal play makes the experience easier, because their body is already engaged. Others may enjoy using fingers or small toys to prepare their body for penetration with a penis or a larger toy.
When you think you’re ready to engage in penetration with a larger toy, our best advice is to go slow and slippery! You can use a lubricant shooter to make sure that there is lube throughout the rectum, and apply a generous amount to the outside of the penetrative object, whether it be a toy or a body part. Remember to breathe, don’t tense up, and take it slow.
If you experience pain, stop and apply more lubricant! If you’re still experiencing pain when using plenty of lube, then it may be an indicator that your body isn’t ready. You may need to go back a step and work on training for a while longer. Every body is different, so listen to yours! It’s a common cultural myth that anal sex will hurt, but that’s not actually true! Sex -- no matter what kind you’re participating in -- should never hurt (unless you want it to).
If you experience pain during anal play, pause. Consider taking a short break, giving yourself more warm-up time, adding more lubricant, or switching positions. Many people ask us about numbing agents or desensitizers, but we do not suggest using these kinds of products. If you’re feeling discomfort or pain, it’s usually best to listen to your body. Pain and discomfort is an acute form of neurofeedback to warn us of harm to our bodies, and removing your ability to feel discomfort creates the potential for injury.
So you’ve had a successful anal experience. Well done! But remember that the scene doesn’t stop on a dime, and many people will need physical aftercare, emotional aftercare, or both!
Once you’re done, take some time to clean up. Baby wipes are incredible for a fast cleanup! Don’t feel the need to sit down in the bathroom and try to squeeze the lube out of your body right away; instead, give your muscles time to relax. Take a break. This can be a wonderful time for a soothing bath -- ideal for both mental relaxation and physical soothing.
Some slight discomfort is normal after anal penetration. It’s also normal to see a small amount of blood afterward. If you do notice a bit of blood, it’s a good indicator that you didn’t have enough lube throughout the entire interaction. Make sure you are reapplying often enough during penetration! You can soothe upset external skin of your anus with coconut oil, or unscented cocoa butter. If there is a lot of blood, or extreme pain at any point, you may need to see a doctor! If you do, be honest with them about the cause of your pain. We promise, your doctor has heard it all before, and they will know what to do.
Don’t forget to tend to your emotions, too! Emotional aftercare can be just as important as physical aftercare. Participating in anal sex can make the receiver feel extremely vulnerable. The receiving partner may need plenty of praise, attention, and affection. Talk to your partner about how they feel, and what they need! Perhaps they will want to watch their favorite television show, eat their favorite snack, or cuddle up in their favorite blanket. Be attentive to their needs, and make sure to clearly state your own!
It’s important that both partners check in with each other about their feelings, takeaways, likes, and dislikes of their experience once you’ve both cooled down both mentally and physically. Discussing with our partners what was good, what was great, and what could be done better, is how we improve our experiences.
Congratulations! You’re almost ready to go safely out into the world of anal exploration! But before you do, let us offer a few final tips that can help set you up for a successful anal adventure:
- Remember, anal sex shouldn’t hurt. If it does, stop, troubleshoot, and adjust. Pain shouldn’t be a part of anyone’s sexual experience (unless they want it to be).
- Lube, lube, lube. We know we’ve talked about the importance of using plenty of lubricant a lot already in this guide, but we just have to say it one more time: USE PLENTY OF LUBE. When in doubt, add more. There’s virtually no such thing as using “too much” lube.
- Get turned on first! If you’re already feeling sexy, then it’ll be a lot easier for your body relax enough to enjoy anal. Sometimes, anal sex is easiest (and the most pleasureable) after you’ve already had an orgasm. Experiment with what works for you and your body!
- Make anal a side act. If you know you love clitoral stimulation, then try adding anal play in simultaneously with your favorite clitoral toy! Experiencing pleasure in one part of the body deepens our overall connection with our entire physical selves, and opens our bodies up to even more pleasure.
- Breathe. Often, when we are trying something new or experiencing something unfamiliar, we tend to physically tense up and our breathing becomes shallow. It’s important to stay relaxed and present, and taking deep breaths is one of the best methods for connecting to your body. If you find yourself getting tense or anxious during anal play, focus on taking a few deep breaths to help you relax.
- Practice makes perfect! If your first attempt at anal sex isn’t flawlessly executed, that’s ok! Experience is the best teacher, so as long as you remain interested in and excited by anal play, you should keep exploring it. Move at your own pace, and make your own rules based on your wants and needs.
- Anal isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok, too! Every body responds to different things. While some people may want and enjoy anal play, others simply don’t. Your boundaries are yours to determine, and should always be respected by your partners -- no ifs, ands, or butts.
And with that, we set you free to begin -- or continue -- your anal adventure! Be safe, have fun, and check in with your partner/s frequently. And remember: every body’s got a booty.
Tips For Setting the Mood:
In my youth, my former partner and I made a habit of playing loud music almost every time we decided to have sex. This is because each of had lots of roommates and thin walls. It probably clued them off what we were doing because our classic choice was the album ‘Kid A’ by Radiohead. I might be dating myself, but this was a time before internet radio and mp3 players were really a thing so if it was a particularly good night for us, they’d have to listen to the entire record twice.
Cock rings are awesome toys for those who want to experience harder erections. They restrict blood flow creating a sense of pressure or tightness that people seem to like. They also look really sexy. But they can do damage if they aren’t used properly, so here at As You Like It, we’ve put together a handy little list on how to safely use a cock ring for the first time. (more…)
Your sex toys will last longer and be safer if you learn to care for them properly. But there are so many kinds of toys, and no two are alike. How do you know how to clean each toy?
The sheer amount of information out there can be overwhelming. But don’t worry, we’re here to help.(more…)
So you want to buy a butt plug – fun! As with most sex toy shopping, you’ll find you have a bevy of options to choose from. We have put together a couple of quick questions to help you identify some choices that may be right for you. Remember, if you have any questions, you can always write to us at [email protected]
The Who, What, Where, What (Again), How, How Much, and What (One More Time)? of Picking Your Playthings
Shopping for sex toys can be fun and exciting- an opportunity to explore! But it can also be overwhelming. There are a lot of choices and when you are faced with the whole array of options it can be hard to even know where to start.
That's why we've put together this list of seven questions to ask when you set out to shop for toys. Check it out and then get shopping!
Who?- Who is using the toy and what do they enjoy? If you are buying for a partner keep their needs in mind.
What?- What kind of toy? There are vibrators, dildos, butt plugs, prostate stimulators, kegel weights, masturbation sleeves, anal beads, cock rings and more - Narrow it down by knowing what kind of toy you are looking for.
Where?- Where on the body will it be used? Penis? Clitoris? Prostate? G-spot? Should it be able to multi-task? Just like when you're building a house, you want the right tool for the job you are doing. Just as you don't use a hammer to put in a screw, you don't want to buy a wand style vibrator if you're looking to find your prostate, right?
What? (Again)-What should it look like? What should the shape be? What should the texture be? Looks do matter, so know what you want!
How?- How do you use it? Do you need lube with it? Make sure you know. Don't be afraid to ask questions. You can always hit us up at [email protected]!
How Much?- How much do you want to spend? Find your price point. Increasingly high quality toys are becoming available in all price points.
What? (One More Time)-What should it be made out of? Some materials are better than others- there are some that over time become unhygienic, some that are awful for the environment and some that are actually toxic and could harm your body. Luckily, you're at As You Like It where all the toys and products are safe for your body and the environment!.
We hope that helps, and remember, if you have any questions, you can always reach us at [email protected]
We really appreciate our customers and an overwhelming amount of you have had a plethora of questions about nipple clamps. We hope this quick guide alleviates any reservations you have about incorporating them into your playtime.
When you’re looking to buy your first dildo, you may not realize just how many options you have. There’s a dizzying array of shapes, sizes, materials and textures. Do you want something representational or abstract? Do you want something soft or rigid? Do you want something textured or smooth? Will it be used in a harness? Should it be made of steel, or glass, or silicone or wood?