Sex and IBS To Butt or Not to Butt by Violet

SEX & IBS: TO BUTT OR NOT TO BUTT?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome can have a negative impact on your sex life especially when it comes to enjoying anal sex. In this piece Violet Grey offers some thoughts and advice when it comes to exploring anal play with IBS

Hi, I’m Violet and I like anal sex. I also live with a condition called Irritable Bowel Syndrome, more commonly known as IBS. So as you can imagine, this can cause a bit of conflict in my sex life.

IBS affects the digestive system. Symptoms include stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. Others can include backache, tiredness, incontinence and sudden urges to relieve yourself. So if you need to know where the nearest restroom is when you’re out and about, I’m your girl.

Flare-ups can be induced by stress, anxiety, certain foods or even no discernible reason at all. For most, it’s a lifelong condition and at the time of this post, there is no cure or set-in-concrete cause. IBS can affect quality of life from mild to debilitating.

Since being diagnosed last year by a gastrointestinal surgeon, my flare-ups are usually caused by stress, anxiety and certain foods, which I now avoid best I can. Seriously, don’t give me white pasta, unless you want to see me doubled over and my body responding like it’s exorcising a demon. Yes, it can get that painful.

Since then, particularly in my writings as a sex blogger, I feel it’s important to raise awareness about can affect us in not just our daily lives, but our sex lives also. IBS and IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) in everyday conversation has an almost taboo nature. It can feel embarrassing to talk about and some individuals who don’t have these conditions can see it as a no-go topic, unless they make it the butt (no pun intended) of an insensitive toilet-themed joke.

Unfortunately, IBS is often not taken as seriously as it should be, often dismissed as those who have it to be over-exaggerating. Trust me, we’re really not. Our symptoms can lead to anxiety, depression and feeling shame and embarrassment about our bodies and how they function.

So when it comes to anal play, IBS can make it a tricky territory, even a strict ‘DO NOT ENTER’ zone. But for someone who enjoys occasional anal sex, I didn’t want IBS to hold me back. I wanted to re-explore my sexuality and body, but without a cost to my health. Keeping in mind, this is not for everyone. I am not a doctor or healthcare professional and what I write about is my own experiences. Every body and every body’s IBS is different. If you are unsure and want to seek advice, speak to your GP or healthcare professional.

            Here’s some of things I’ve learned in exploring general anal play, and how I’ve worked with my IBS, rather than against it.

RESPECT BOUNDARIES AND LIMITS

Great sex is not worth risking your health for. Your health, physical, sexual, mental etc. always comes first. If you can’t have anal sex or just don’t want to, that is absolutely fine. Your boundaries have every right to be respected. If they are not understanding of your needs and boundaries, they don’t get to share a bed with you.

IBS symptoms can lead to experiencing anxiety and depression, so I understand bringing up the topic with a partner can feel embarrassing.

With or without IBS, open and honest communication with your partner/s and is the best way to explore sex, as well as taking proper safety precautions, such as condoms, dental dams and plenty of lube.

TAKING IT SLOW

I can’t stress this enough. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Listen to your body. If I felt uncomfortable or experience any pain, I stopped. If I felt symptoms coming on, I stopped. Don’t feel bad if you need to stop, or if you can’t engage in anal play at all. Your intimacy is unique to you.

START SMALL

Don’t go straight in with a penis/dildo straight away, if that is your goal. Make sure to relax, whatever works best for you. For me, it’s receiving some Dominant dirty talk from my boyfriend (I identify as a Switch, in both vanilla and kink). Use plenty of lube. Be gentle with yourself/your partner(s).

Majority of the anal play I do with my boyfriend is with fingers (make sure to be safe and use protection). If I find that comfortable and want to go further, we’ll try two fingers. One of the fun things about exploring more with anal play are the various sex toys on the market.

I recently tried a small silicone butt plug for the first time, to see if that would help stretch me, and further relax my muscles. To my surprise, I really enjoyed it! I couldn’t keep it in long that night, as my body started to freak out at something staying, rather than pumping in and out, of my butt. So I took it out after about fifteen minutes.

It may be different the next time we try it, it may not. That’s both the blessing and curse of my IBS: I have no idea until I try it.

JUST THE TIP

Due to how my IBS affects me, I only engage in anal play/sex every few months, if we’re in the mood for it and only if I haven’t had a flare-up in a while.  Me and my boyfriend have had full anal sex before prior to my diagnosis. While it felt amazing, my body hated me for it afterwards and I would wonder why, but I brushed it off as a mere after-effect and felt perhaps I wasn’t cut out for anal sex. So we stopped. Post diagnosis, it definitely explained a lot. While I still think I’m not cut out for full penetration, having greater insight into my condition has helped me navigate other avenues of intimacy.

Upon last trying anal sex, we started slow with PIV (penis-in-vagina) sex and anal penetration with fingers, the dirty talk, a condom and plenty of lube. Communication was constant throughout, sticking mostly to some ‘just the tip’ action, and I was pleasantly surprised to experience no IBS symptoms afterwards. I did something I’m not very good at: not pushing myself to bite off more than I can chew. And giving that time to slowly re-explore my boundaries was a sensual, re-connecting experience.

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE PENETRATION

Exactly that: Anal play doesn’t have to include any penetration at all, if you can’t or are just not comfortable with it. Non-penetrative anal play can include massaging entrance to the back passage, like one would a clitoris for example, or oral sex (anilingus, also known as ‘rimming’). This can be incorporated into play in a variety of ways: as part of vanilla sex, kinky BDSM play, or just because it feels good!

MOST IMPORTANTLY: HAVE FUN!

Sex or sexual play doesn’t have to have all the seriousness of root canal work. It’s meant to be an enjoyable experience either by yourself, or with a partner(s). If something goes wrong, make sure everyone involved is ok and taken care of. Don’t be afraid to laugh and not take yourself too seriously. Enjoy yourselves, don’t rush and don’t put pressure on yourself. While I may just want to get straight down to business at times, sometimes I have to remind myself: slow and steady.

So to everyone trying anal play, enjoy and stay safe, and to those with IBS: I know it can feel incredibly isolating, but you are not alone. Never be afraid to take care of yourself and say ‘no’ if you need to. Go easy on yourself in everyday life and sex, and find what works best for you.

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