First things first—don’t be afraid!
By Gigi Engle
You’ll find no shortage of explanatory pieces on the Internet when it comes to butt stuff. There are so many ways to explore the butt. Some people use fingers, while others prefer dildos or butt plugs. And, of course, people enjoy a mix of things. Yet in all of this ongoing hoopla, we’ve forgotten a key player: anal beads.
Anal beads are the unsung hero of butt play. They are freakin’ amazing, and yet when asked about butt play from readers, I never get questions about anal beads.
Butt plugs and anal beads are two different toys, although they both go in the anus. “Anal beads provide stimulation through movement, while a butt plug offers internal ‘fullness’ or pressure,” explains Alicia Sinclair, a certified sex educator and CEO of the butt-centric company b-Vibe. “Unlike a butt plug, which is often used in preparation for penetrative anal sex, and is only meant to go in and stay [in place], anal beads were designed to stimulate inside the body and specifically to move in an out of the bum.”
There is no reason to feel embarrassed about wanting to explore butt stuff. Will there be some poop? Possibly, but if you clean up thoroughly, you’ll be just fine. You might come in contact with some fecal matter, but this simply goes with the territory. The sooner we move on from that, the sooner we can delight in the butt fully. I love butt play of any kind because it is an equalizing sex act that everyone can enjoy, regardless of gender. Everyone, after all, has an anus.
“Playing with products like anal beads allows you to really create equality in the bedroom and experience pleasure for the sake of pleasure, rather than tying it to identity in any way,” Sinclair adds.
The anus is a huge area of pleasurable possibility. You don’t need to put anything all the way inside of the butt to enjoy it. The anal opening is clustered with nerves, making any play with toys very enjoyable.
“As the beads are removed, they arouse the sensitive nerve endings of the sphincter muscle,” Sinclair says. “This stimulation creates a series of pleasurable sensations, like having a muscle massaged. The beads can be removed at varying speeds, depending on the desired effect, and can amplify the intensity of orgasm or even initiate for some. A great element is that using anal beads can be a hands-free path to stimulation, which means you can use your hands for other important erotic matters.”
Sign me up, please. Here is what you need to know about anal beads and all their multidimensional wonders.
Anal beads can be for newbies.
If you’re unsure if you’re ready for le beads de anal, Sinclair assures me that anal beads are totally fine for butt play beginners. While your forays ought to begin with a well-lubed finger or two, she assures SELF that there are “anal beads available in sizes for folks at all entry levels.”
Where to begin as a newbie when you’re looking for that perfect fit? Sinclair says that if you’re a beginner, it’s best to choose beads with “graduated sizes.” Meaning, ones that start small on the string and grow in size as you move up. “This allows the user to start with the smallest beads and then works towards the larger beads as they become comfortable with the sensation,” she says.
You should start with anal beads that come with three to four beads. You don’t need some long, snaking set of 15 balls when you’re starting out—that could be a little intimidating. “Make sure there is a good-sized flared base or circular handle at the end of the beads, otherwise there the beads may get lost inside the body,” Sinclair adds. Yikes. No one needs a trip to the ER, amiright? The rectum is not a closed area like the vagina; once something goes up the butt and disappears, it probably won’t be coming back on its own.
Stick to medical grade or body-safe silicone.
Materials for anal beads, like all sex toys, vary widely depending on where you buy them. Simply put: Do not buy cheap, crappy sex toys. If you buy beads made of jelly or non-ABS plastic (the only non-porous grade of plastic) then you risk leaving bacteria behind. These materials can never be fully disinfected. Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like: Your anal beads will have lingering poop on them.
“Silicone is my go-to material of choice,” Sinclair tells SELF. “It’s body-safe, non-porous, and all you need is mild soap and warm water to clean.”
Vibrating anal beads can be a super-fun way to ease yourself into playing with this new toy. “It promotes relaxation and can amplify the pleasurable sensations,” she says. “At b-Vibe, we specialize in vibrating anal beads and playing with different points and patterns of vibration.” (If vibration isn’t your thing, there are plenty of body-safe silicone anal beads that don’t vibrate. It’s all about preference.)
If you’re truly not sure what sensation you want to feel, start with a basic set of three to four non-vibrating beads and see how you feel about them. If you’d like to experiment with bigger beads, vibration, or a larger number of beads, go from there. There are so many different kinds to choose from.
Grab some lube.
You can use anal beads alone or with a partner. It can be easier to give toys a try alone for the first time to avoid awkwardness or nerves, but this is completely up to you.
Be sure you have a ton of lube on hand. Avoid silicone-based lubes with silicone toys; in other words, stick to water-based lube. I recommend Sustain Natural for all play, including anal. If you are more of an oil-based lover, I’m obsessed with CocoLube. Oil-based lubes are great for anal play because they are super slippery and don’t need to be applied as often as water-based options.
If you are sharing butt toys, be sure you are thoroughly cleansing them before using them with a different partner. Otherwise, you risk transferring bacteria or STIs.
Relax and breathe before insertion. You can lie either on your back or side, whichever is most comfortable for you. I suggest starting on your side if this is your first time. You don’t want your butt hole to be tensed up. Put the beads in one at a time, checking in with yourself and your partner along the way.
“Once they are inside, you’ll feel ‘fullness’ and receive pleasure as they move inside you,” Sinclair says. “You can stop wherever—there’s no pressure at all to go the full length of the beads. You can then leave them in during partner play or pull them out at varying speeds, depending on the desired effect.”
Sinclair suggests leaving the beads in during intercourse, slowly removing them one by one when you’re nearing climax for “toe-curling orgasms.”
Clean your anal beads immediately.
After you’re finished getting busy, wash your anal beads right away. You don’t want to leave lingering bacteria on your toys. Use a mild antibacterial soap and leave them on a towel to air dry. Be sure to pay special attention to any nooks and crannies. Be thorough.
If you’re really into sanitizing, I absolutely love the UVee Box. It uses UV light to remove 99.9 percent of surface bacteria on your toys. I use it for everything in my house from my cell phone to my jewelry. It’s a worthy investment.
Do away with shame! Go boldly into butt play and have the most fun!
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