Before we start talking about the anus and anal health, let’s make some definitions. The anus is the entrance to the anal canal. It eliminates waste, is often a sexual organ, and is used for various treatments including a suppository or enema.
There should be a great deal of care given to the whole system: anus, anal canal, rectum. This is especially true if you practice anal sex.
It’s a known fact that sexual activities can transmit disease – they are called sexually transmitted diseases (or STDs, for short). This can certainly affect anal health.
Moreover, one of the causes of anal cancer can be sexually transmitted infections. This is true for both men and women.
For example, if a person damages the internal or external skin of his anus, they may encounter enormous pain, which may harm overall health.
Basic Anal Anatomy
As we mentioned before, the anal anatomy includes these components:
- Anal Canal
The anus is an opening to the anal canal and the canal is where the exterior and interior sphincters are located. The sphincter constricts the removal of feces and expands to allow feces and gases to pass through. It consists of a circular muscle tissue that can constrict and expand.
The next 2 inches (5 cm) of skin inside the anus are called an anal canal. When closed, it’s resting, when open it releases waste and is used for penetration.
After that, there is a tube that connects the end of the colon and the anal canal – the rectum. It is 5 inches (12 cm) long and 1.5 inches (4 cm) wide. The purpose of the rectum is to store waste before releasing them.
Why do men and women enjoy anal sex?
There are so many nerve endings inside the anal canal and rectum which makes the act of anal sex extremely enjoyable for many men and women. Some men find great pleasure from penetration of the anus that stimulates the nearest area of the prostate gland – it is located between the rectum and the other male reproductive organs.
Some of the sexual activities in anal sex include:
- Stimulation of anal canal by insertion of fingers
- Stimulation of anal canal by using toys such as vibrators.
- “Analingus” (oral-to-anal contact)
- Penetration of penis to anus
- Bringing fluids into the rectum
For men and women who practice anal sex, it is really imperative to maintain perfect anal health.
Moreover, for gay men who practice penetration of the penis to the anus on a regular basis, taking care of anal health is even more important.
Anal Health and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
The 2 most common diseases include Hepatitis that causes the inflammation of a liver, and HIV: the human immunodeficiency virus. Both of them are very serious and even life-threatening diseases.
However, these two diseases do not directly affect the anus. Here is a list of sexually transmitted diseases that do affect the anus:
- HSV or herpes simplex virus is an inflammation of the skin and mucous membrane which causes soreness.
- Gonorrhea is the inflammation of mucous membrane, infectious discharge that generally attacks joints, bones, and skin. However, later on, gonorrhea may transfer to the central nervous system and affect heart valves.
- HPV or human papillomavirus can lead to genital warts and possibly cervical anal and penile cancers.
- Parasites that can affect the digestive system and the gastrointestinal tract.
- Syphilis is a bacterial infection that can cause lesions in tissue and also affect the nervous system and heart.
You should keep in mind that you can get a sexually transmitted disease without sexual penetration. Oral contact from kissing or touching the anus can spread bacteria which will cause an infection.
That also includes sex toys that can transmit specific diseases.
Practicing safe sex – even when it comes to anal sex – can decrease the chances of contracting sexually transmitted diseases in both men and women.
A small tear in the tissue or the skin is a fissure in the anus. It can cause bleeding, itching, and become very sore which in turn will make bowel movements, sex, and even sitting very painful.
Having sex without proper lubricants, hard bowel movements and infection in the anal tissue can develop a fissure.
There are fissures that will heal after a few weeks if you use therapeutic creams, warm baths, stool softeners, and other treatments.
On the other hand, anal fissures will often require a surgical operation that includes removal of the rupture. It can be exacerbated by sphincter movement or scars.
It’s advised to stay away from anal sex if you suffer from fissures.
Keep in mind, bleeding that occurs with a rupture can easily increase the risk of getting sexually transmitted infections.
Hemorrhoids are described as lumps that form on the skin outside the anus or right within the anal canal. These are actually enlarged veins that can be treated with medications like creams or pills.
They rarely need surgical removal. However, they often cause itching, which can be very painful and may cause bleeding.
Hemorrhoids may result in serious or repeated bowel movements. Anal sex does not cause this condition but can worsen the situation. In order to prevent it, eat high fiber products, take warm baths, and clean anus with witch hazel after a bowel motion.
How to Improve Your Anal Health?
By using lubricants, proper hygiene, and condoms, the risks of getting anal diseases can be significantly reduced and the risk of transmitting illness during anal sex is minimized.
The anus physically cannot produce lubrication so it must be applied manually.
Skin and tissue of the anus will easily tear when they are very dry so it’s really critical to lubricate before penetration. The lubricants should be a water-base because oil-based will destroy latex condoms.
Washing the anal region before anal sex and after intercourse would also decrease the number of bacteria which can spread quickly from one individual to another. Bacteria will weaken many of your body’s natural barriers that can combat diseases.
When put on before every intercourse, condoms can reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Oral to anal contact is healthier if using a dental dam that is an oral condom that creates a shield between your lips or hands and the anus.
Choose safe products
If you use enemas quite often, you may kill your lower intestine’s balanced bacterial environment. Lubricants containing spermicide made from nonoxynol-9 (N9) must be avoided without any exclusion. The latest studies have suggested that N9 will increase the chance of HIV transmission.
Anal cancer is a big concern for both males and females that practice anal sex. Cancerous tumors can develop either inside the anal canal or outside of the anus. People with the early stages of anal cancer are not displaying symptoms but the leading risk is causing HPV infection.
There is no doubt that more research and studies must be performed.
In the meantime, healthcare providers and experts advise men and women with a history of anal sex that they should be periodically screened for cancer. Also, women suffering from cervical dysplasia must be screened, too.
Additionally, many HIV-positive people are not infected but they are in a high-risk group of anal cancer. Although anal cancer is found in less than 5 out of 100 cases of all cancers of the gastrointestinal and digestive tract, the frequency is certainly rising.