If you’ve seen some shit during anal sex — literally — chances are, you remember it vividly. We’re trained from birth to view excrement as disgusting, dirty, too crass to even mention in polite company. So when this taboo substance shows up during sex, of all activities, it can be beyond mortifying.
That’s not to say it has to be an embarrassing event — our bodies produce all kinds of weird stuff, and a kind partner will usually be chill about any messes that occur as byproducts of butt sex. But if you tense up at the very thought of a fecal-matter mishap, then you might want to take some precautionary measures to cut down on shitty surprises. Basically, you might want to douche.
Doing an anal douche — also known as an enema — is a fairly straightforward process. You fill your douching product with water (or another butt-safe solution — more on that below), lube up the tip, slide it into your butt and squeeze out some of the fluid. Then you sit on the toilet to let it all out. Repeat as needed until the water coming out of you looks clean (well, as clean as butt-water can reasonably be, anyway). It’s best to do this a few hours before you plan on getting fucked, to make sure all the water is evacuated into the toilet and not, y’know, onto your partner.
Do You Really Need to Douche Before Anal Sex?
Evan Goldstein, an anal surgeon and sexual health expert, thinks pre-sex douching isn’t as important as it’s often made out to be. “The truth is, if you don’t feel the urgency ‘to go,’ you’re most likely ready to play without having to douche,” he says.
This is especially true if you’ve set yourself up for success by staying hydrated and maintaining the right diet. Goldstein recommends “sticking to foods that are high-soluble fiber, lean proteins and leafy greens, and avoiding insoluble fibers, greasy and fatty foods, artificial sugars and even dairy” when you plan on having anal sex. Recently, he even partnered with Postmates to curate a “bottom-friendly menu” for Pride, which emphasizes foods known to prevent constipation and runny poops, like white rice, fish, nuts and peas. “Diets that are high in fiber help bulk your stool so that when you go to the bathroom, you feel fully evacuated and confident sex will be mess-free — or as close to it as possible,” he explains.
If your fiber intake is at a good level, the main reason to douche before anal sex is just to get some peace of mind. It’s hard to relax into pleasure if you’re worried about ruining your bedding (or, worse, someone else’s). “Oftentimes, people receiving anal pleasure feel less insecure or anxious about messiness if they’ve douched before anal play,” says Casey Tanner, a certified sex therapist and sexpert for Lelo.
Not sure whether you need to douche? Goldstein recommends a simple test you can do if you’ve got a butt plug or an anal-safe dildo on hand. “Before the fun starts, grab a toy (preferably one that mimics your partner’s length), lube it up well [and] insert it slowly and gently, and then pull it out. Examine the toy for any residual stool,” he suggests. “If there’s some present, you’ll either want to douche again or take a rain check. However, if it comes out clean, you know you’re ready to go.” This also helps relax your anal muscles and get some lube distributed through your anal canal, so penetration will be more comfortable if and when you go that route.
Again, though, douching isn’t a requirement, so you shouldn’t feel pressured to do it if you don’t want to. “Shit happens, as they say,” Tanner explains. “Poop is a normal part of anal play, whether or not you douche, and it’s nothing to be ashamed about.”
“Always have a towel on hand (preferably a dark one), and if a mess occurs, rinse off or, if that’s not possible, call it quits for that night,” Goldstein adds.
Health and Safety Tips for Anal Douching
1) Pick the Right One. There are two major things to consider when you’re buying an anal douche: the douche bulb itself, and the liquid inside it.
For the bulb, Tanner recommends one with “a soft or tapered tip that can be easily inserted into the anus.” Silicone is an especially good material to look for here — it’s body-safe, easy to clean and usually has enough flexibility to be comfortable.
Goldstein cautions against heavy-duty douches that connect to your shower and/or blast a huge amount of water up your ass, as they can ultimately cause more harm than good. “Most shower hoses are too long and end up way higher inside your colon, which isn’t necessary,” he says. “All that high-pressure water creates a balloon effect, distending the rectum, washing away all the good bacteria and then shooting that water way up into the colon — much further than anyone will ever go during everyday play.”
As for the liquid you use to douche, Tanner suggests plain lukewarm water. You can use tap water if it’s good-quality where you live, or try distilled water instead.
Goldstein recommends against this, however, saying that it’s better to use a solution that’s pH-balanced for the rectal canal and is isotonic — which, to massively simplify a complicated chemical concept, means that the solution can move freely across the cell membranes in your butt without disrupting them. “This is a more ideal option compared to tap water, store-bought enemas, saline solutions and other organic and natural soaps for getting ready to bottom,” he says. “Because the concentration of these options can cause irritation, dryness and/or damage to the delicate cells inside your rectum.”
Whatever you do, you should absolutely not douche with any off-the-beaten-path substances like coffee, alcohol or bleach (yes, there really are people who do this). The inside of your ass is easily irritated, plus anything it absorbs will end up in your bloodstream — hence the prevalence of boofing — but at a much more concentrated and potentially dangerous rate than if you’d ingested it orally.
2) Lube It Up. As with anything else you put into your butt, the nozzle of a douche bulb should always be well-lubed. This helps prevent irritation or injury to the area and just makes the whole process way more comfortable and safer. Just remember: Many douche bulbs are made of silicone or other materials that could react poorly with silicone-based lube, so get yourself a water-based lube and use that instead.
3) Don’t Overdo It. While it might seem like the cleaner you get your butt on a regular basis, the better, the truth is that cleaning too zealously or too often can cause health problems. “As a general rule, you should limit anal douching to two to three times per week,” Tanner says. “Over-douching can lead to imbalances in the bacterial flora of your rectum and can lead to infections and other intestinal issues.”
The amount of water (or other douching solution) that you use in each enema session can also have an effect on your health. “If you use more water than you need to rinse out your rectum, some may get stuck further up in your colon and rush out during anal play,” Tanner explains. “Seven ounces of water or less is ideal for anal douching.”
Goldstein points out that many people aim for a “deep cleaning” of the sigmoid colon — the part of your digestive system where poop is stored before it’s ready to come out — when this isn’t necessary for the vast majority of anal sex being had. “Unless you’re engaging in fisting, larger toys or your partner is over 12 inches, you really only need to rinse out a small portion of your body that’s just inside your asshole,” he says. Douching too deeply “irritates the delicate cells of the rectum before the sex even starts and can make you more susceptible to injury and STI transmission during play.”
Say it with me now: When it comes to the back door, less is more!
Now that you know the do’s and don’ts of douching, let’s talk about some of the best products on the market for getting your butt extra-clean and ready for fun.
Best Disposable Anal Douche: Future Method Disposable Intimate Wash + Bulb
The isotonic, pH-balanced solution in this enema is arguably the gentlest, most effective way to clean out your ass. “It’s a hygienic, first-of-its-kind formula that cleanses before you play without causing irritation,” says Goldstein, who co-founded Future Method. “It contains tego solve, which gently yet thoroughly helps cleanse and moisturize your rectum, as well as licorice root extract, which is a known natural soother.”
The bulb itself — which you can reuse with water or with more Future Method solution if you buy some — is also designed with butt health in mind. “Future Method’s refillable bulb is noticeably smaller than others in the market — by more than half,” Goldstein tells me. “Because this helps reduce the chances of over-douching, both by reducing the force of the solution being expelled and the actual amount of liquid you get with each rinse cycle.”
Best Cheap Disposable Anal Douche: Fleet Saline Enema
If you need to douche on short notice and can’t wait around for an online order to arrive, Fleet enemas are readily available at lots of drugstores and are super affordable, too. “If you go this route, be sure to dump out the packaged solution and use lukewarm water instead,” Tanner suggests. The saline solution that comes in Fleet douches is meant to function as a laxative, which maybe isn’t quite what you’re going for when you’re prepping for anal sex, though it’s safe to use.
Best Reusable Anal Douche Bulb: Cleanstream Flex Tip Cleansing Enema Bulb
This bulb is made of silicone, one of the most hygienic materials for anal insertion. The tip is slim enough to slide in comfortably when well-lubed (again, make sure you choose a water-based lube). It’s also small enough to fit in your suitcase for travel, especially when disassembled.
It might not be the most pleasurable object to put inside you, but on the plus side, you can swap out the tip for various other Cleanstream attachments if you want to try a different sensation while you douche.
Best Anal Douching Showerhead Attachment: Cleanstream All-in-One 4-Tip Shower Enema System
As mentioned earlier, Goldstein cautions against showerhead douches because they can expel way too much water with way too much force, potentially causing damage to the cells inside your ass and leaving too much water in your sigmoid colon that could flood out unexpectedly during sex. That said, if you’re planning on doing extreme anal penetration, like with a fist or a very long toy, Goldstein says you may prefer the deeper clean that a showerhead douching attachment can give you.
This one connects to your shower with a six-foot hose. It has a built-in flow regulator, so you can moderate the amount of water spraying into you. It comes with a few different tips you can try, to find the one that’s comfiest for your body.
Best Travel-Friendly Anal Douche: Cleanstream Travel Enema Water Bottle Adapter
Planning on doing some anal play while traveling? This ingenious attachment screws onto a standard plastic water bottle and lets you use the bottle itself as your enema squeeze-bulb. You can grab a bottle from the hotel minibar, or buy one at an airport convenience store, and no one will know you plan on shooting its contents up your ass.
Being made of body-safe silicone, this attachment is easy to clean. It even comes with a couple different-sized adapters, so it’ll work with many brands of bottled water. It’s a must-have accessory for horny jetsetters who love anal abroad.
Best Anal Douche Attachment Set: Cleanstream Universal Enema Attachment Set
These attachments can be used with Cleanstream douche bulbs — and some from other brands as well — to transform the perfunctory sensations of douching into something more pleasurable. The shapes are reminiscent of butt plugs and anal beads, and feel good while also starting the process of relaxing your sphincter muscles so that bigger penetration will be easier once you get to that.
These are silicone, meaning they can be cleaned without issue. If you already own an anal douche that has a removable nozzle made of a porous, non-hygienic material like PVC or rubber, you might want to swap it out for one of these. Each option is flexible and designed for optimal pleasure and comfort.