Dental damned if you do....
September 5, 2007 6:08 PM   Subscribe

Sexfilter : How risky a behavior is analingus?

Websites (including Wikipedia) make it sound super-risky. If I know that my partner has no STDs and no hepatitis, what are my risks, realistically?

I figure I'd want her to take a shower first. Also, one website suggests cleaning the area with a Tucks pad. Is this a good or bad idea?

Also, is it really necessary to use a dental dam?
posted by Jake Apathy to Health & Fitness (29 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I Am Not A Microbiologist, but my understanding is there's all sorts of bacteria down there, like e. choli. The bacteria is ok where it is, so long as it doesn't come near your mouth. A dental dam will reduce the risk of bacterial transmission.

Also, Tucks are made to numb the pain of hemorrhoids. Now, if you're licking her ass, taste may be the least of your concerns, and a numb tongue may be a bonus, but think about what those chemicals are going to do to your mouth.
posted by lekvar at 6:22 PM on September 5, 2007

I think it's probably not as dangerous as some places might suggest, but at the same time, I don't think it would ever qualify in anything less than 'high-risk' activity. While STDs may not be a massive concern, there are all sorts of bacterial risks and stuff.

While I don't have any relevant experience, a large part of my thinks 'how great could it be?'
posted by sycophant at 6:31 PM on September 5, 2007

sycophant: really, really great.
posted by papakwanz at 6:39 PM on September 5, 2007 [5 favorites]

I Am Not A Microbiologist, but my understanding is there's all sorts of bacteria down there, like e. choli.

That would be E. coli.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:41 PM on September 5, 2007

It's true that there is a relatively high level of bacteria there, but I don't think it's all that dangerous. If it were, then anal penetration would be dangerous to the recipient because of all the micro-tearing that goes on inside the rectum walls during anal sex. If you can expose the bloodstream to this bacteria, you can probably expose your mouth to it (your mouth, which, incidentally, is the next dirtiest place on your body in this regard).

I'm guessing here. But this is what makes sense to me. Done it plenty of times and found it safer than eating Mexican food out, statistically anyway.
posted by scarabic at 6:42 PM on September 5, 2007

If they have disease, like bad e coli, then damn dangerous. If not, which is most likely, then other than some feces on your tongue, not so dangerous.

mmmm feces.
posted by caddis at 6:45 PM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Done it plenty of times and found it safer than eating Mexican food out, statistically anyway.

Combining the two would probably be ill-advised. But as to teh question: it's a fairly common sexual activity, so how dangerous could it be, assuming the partner is STD free.
posted by jonmc at 6:46 PM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Here's a Go Ask Alice! answer to your question.

My personal feeling with regards to that action is the same as my feelings about any sexual activity regarding the anus: That Is Where The Poop Comes Out. Because That Is Where The Poop Comes Out, you are going to have to deal with the fact your tongue is licking up trace remnants of The Poop That Came Out. This carries obvious health risks. I would highly suggest using some sort of barrier.
posted by Anonymous at 6:47 PM on September 5, 2007

If I know that my partner has no STDs and no hepatitis, what are my risks, realistically?

So, you mean bacterial risks then. A very thorough soapy scrubbing back there will go a long way to reducing that. There's also flavoured dental dams, or flavoured lubes that you could apply to a plain damn, if you're not jazzed about the taste of latex.

Yes, poo and all its assorted bacteria do come out of there. But unless you've got a very long and very agile tongue you're only going to be licking on the exterior part, which can be cleaned to the extent that any other patch of skin can be cleaned. If there's a good shower beforehand, Tucks or alcohol wipes strike me as unnecessary.

sycophant: On the receiving end? Veryveryvery. There's nothing fantastic about doing it, in and of itself, other than the fun of making someone go nuts solely with your tongue.
posted by CKmtl at 6:55 PM on September 5, 2007

Alcohol will sting like a mother. Witch hazel, on the other hand, is fine. And mildly antiseptic.
posted by O9scar at 6:58 PM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

I can't find which column it is, but I know Dan Savage has extensively covered this topic. From what I remember, things like parasites may be one of your biggest concerns. So uh if she likes to travel to third world countries a lot might be a good idea to get a really complete checkup to make sure she's never picked up anything.
posted by whoaali at 7:15 PM on September 5, 2007

I seem to recall a MeFite who owned up to doing quite a bit of asshole-licking, and he, uh, poo-pooed health concerns, swearing he had suffered no negative effects. You might poke around in the archive --- IIRC, we really got to the bottom, you might say, of this topic.
posted by jayder at 7:24 PM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

I have a parasitology background and can tell you it's an excellent way to get pinworms. Many people have them and are asymptomatic, and the prevalence rates are actually quite high, not just limited to children either. If they are carrying tapeworm or some sushi-borne parasite you may be looking at contracting cysts. Just something to think about... if that doesn't bother you, go right ahead. I don't know much about bacteriology but there may also be some E. coli concerns -- one bowel movement carries about a trillion of these organisms.
posted by rolypolyman at 7:54 PM on September 5, 2007

A Hepatitis A vaccination will not only alleviate some of the risks of rimming (because honestly, who calls it analingus?), and will also protect you from poorly prepared food!
posted by awesomebrad at 8:17 PM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Both of you should be fairly clean before having sex anyway.

Just go for it. People have become so fucking germ-phobic in these days that they -- not germs -- are making themselves sick.

How the hell did anyone ever live past the age of five before Purell? Why has raw chicken become a biohazard in our culture?

You want to get freaky and eat out your partner's ass? Fucking go for it. Just fucking make sure to be REASONABLY clean first. I promise you you won't die, and I have 8 million other historic ass-eaters to back me up (pun intended) here. Jesus Filbert Christ we've become a nation of pansies.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 8:19 PM on September 5, 2007 [7 favorites]

I am not any kind of expert, but I have increasingly gotten the impression that ingesting feces of a healthy person (no hepatitis, no parasites, no bad e. coli, etc., etc.) is not unhealthy; it can even be therapeutic. So the small amount you'd end up eating during analingus shouldn't be harmful at all, if the other person is quite healthy.

As other people have mentioned it's probably a good way to spread any diseases you do have, though. (Cold sores -> anal herpes? I hope not.)
posted by hattifattener at 8:20 PM on September 5, 2007

I wonder if there aren't two kinds of people. Those who think rimming is a super big deal, and those who, um, don't. If you're with an STD-free partner who's washed recently, I guess I'm in the latter school.

Honestly, maybe I just hang out with perverts, but all the "Oh noes! Parasites!" surprised me a little. I have a sneaking suspicion a higher percentage of people get sick from eating undercooked chicken than from this particular naughty activity. Is it 100% risk free? Well, no, I reckon not. But not much sex is. You minimize your risk, you use good sense when choosing your partners. That's why they call it "safer sex."

As mentioned earlier, the Tucks pads are just witch hazel; they don't actually anesthetize anything. Which is good, since it can be dangerous to have anything numbing on those very sensitive tissues.

And yeah, sycophant, it can be pretty darn great.
posted by mostlymartha at 8:31 PM on September 5, 2007

Drat. "Are two kinds of people." Obviously.
posted by mostlymartha at 8:32 PM on September 5, 2007

Oh you'll be fine. If it really freaks you out use some food grade plastic wrap. It's thinner and transfers heat and sensation better than dental dams, which are required by law to taste like shit, which really defeats the purpose, don't you think?
posted by SassHat at 8:42 PM on September 5, 2007

It's fun and perfectly safe if simple basic rules of cleanliness are observed. Those who haven't tried it, get your girl and talk her into it (and get her to do it to you, too!), you'll both have fun. Even just the occasional flick of the tongue while engaging in more common oral activities can thrill both flicker and flickee. That sentence didn't end well but you get the idea. I don't have any research to hand but I'm fairly well convinced you unintentionally consume a great deal of fecal bacteria on a daily basis. Touching things like door knobs and coins and assholes then later touching your mouth or eating with your fingers. If I'm completely wrong, so be it, just lighten up, observe reasonable hygienic practices, and have fun.
posted by Grod at 8:59 PM on September 5, 2007

Word to sasshat. Just use clingfilm; it's fine.
posted by gaspode at 10:07 PM on September 5, 2007

You might get some use out of this previous analingus/e. coli question, as well.
posted by cortex at 10:11 PM on September 5, 2007

If they have disease, like bad e coli, then damn dangerous.

E. Coli is always present in faeces -- it's part of your intestinal flora. As well as several other harmful bacteria, amoeba and other protozoa. It can be pretty bad if you ingest these orally, exposing the upper part of your digestive tract to them. For whatever reason, they just doesn't belong in some parts of your body even if they're harmless in other parts.

I ate out a girl's ass for a whole weekend and it was glorious. It can be the hugest turnon ever, for both the licker and the licked. After a few days, I came down with an acute abdominal infection for more than a week that involved agonizing cramps and constant diarrhea. God, there were times that I felt like I was going to die. I eventually ended up in the ER with kidney failure, and had to be given antibiotics intravenously. Luckily I did not lose my kidneys.

Some people won't suffer any ill effects. Others will be hit hard. Your mileage may vary. An antiseptic enema is de rigueur for porn stars performing any ass-to-mouth work.
posted by randomstriker at 10:41 PM on September 5, 2007 [5 favorites]

I have a friend who has rimmed a few asses in his life. Been rimmed, too. Take it from him: it's *really nice*.

He's also never used a dental dam (on himself or anyone else), and he's never gotten sick or had any (obvious) problems.

Generally, if your partner is STD-free and washes his/her butthole, you'll probably be fine. A cleaned-up (soap & water) butthole probably isn't much dirtier than your "wiping hand" after you take a crap and then wash it.

If you think about it, people get feces on their hands almost every day, wash, and then eat with the same hands. It's not that big of a deal.

You should still get Hep A & B shots, if only because you can potentially get Hep A from bad salad or even ice cubes. Everyone should get Hep A&B shots, IMO.

Anyway, just some food for thought.

Bottoms up!
posted by Avenger at 11:43 PM on September 5, 2007

Totally not a big deal as long as general cleanliness is followed - and well worth it. HOWEVER: do not perform cunnilingus immediately afterwards, as the transfer of fecal bacteria to the vagina can cause... some infection starting with G (I believe) but I can't google for it at work. Same reason women wipe from front to back.

Seriously, take it from someone who knows - clean up fingers/tongue etc before moving to the next hole!
posted by widdershins at 6:38 AM on September 6, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks all for the advice.

It seems that there really isn't a consensus here. For the most part, I get the feeling that if my partner is disease-free and cleans herself thoroughly, I'm probably in the clear. I'd rather not use a dental dam or plastic wrap, but it sounds like that will decrease my risk even further.

However, some people seem to feel that analingus is "unsafe at any speed." The "almost lost a kidney" story scared the crap out of me. (pun intended)

The advice elsewhere on the internet is mixed as well. I wonder if the lack of consensus is due to some people being grossed out by the very idea of analingus, and who don't think that I should be "back there" anyway.

I'll do some more research into this, but it looks like it probably won't kill me if I take proper precautions. Even if I have to use a dental dam or plastic wrap, it's something that I've always wanted to try.

If I ever do find a willing partner for this, I'll update the thread and let you all know how it went.
posted by Jake Apathy at 9:32 AM on September 6, 2007

It's hard to come up with a consensus because no one has actually done a proper study where x number of couples engaged in rimming to see what y% got sick afterwards.

But life is short. I say go for it.
posted by happyturtle at 9:46 AM on September 6, 2007

This lack of consensus is exactly why the field of statistics was invented. If you exposed 100 people to a mild dose of radiation, perhaps 20% more than the baseline occurence would get cancer 5 years from now. If they were then posed a AskMeFi question, many of them would give you an personal anecdote about how radiation is harmless.

By the same token, when people are exposed to pathogens not all of them get sick. It depends how healthy you are, what sort of prior immunity you possess, and the degree of exposure. Hence many who do some ass rimming have no problems afterwards.

That's why I said "Your mileage may vary". It is risky. Chances are you won't get burned, but I did. Just sayin'.
posted by randomstriker at 9:59 AM on September 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

randomstriker: An antiseptic enema is de rigueur for porn stars performing any ass-to-mouth work.

Are you sure you're not thinking of those anal "douches" / mini-enemas, using plain old warm water to avoid unpleasant surprises after anal sex?
posted by CKmtl at 10:44 AM on September 6, 2007

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