Wait, so how (and why) are anal beads used?
Anal beads are typically used during sex to enhance your orgasm, certified sex therapist Debra Laino tells Health. “The beads are inserted slowly into the rectum and pulled out at varying speeds before or during orgasm,” she says.
Some anal beads are more rigid and can be inserted and pulled out like a dildo, Jess O’Reilly, PhD, host of the @SexWithDrJess Podcast, tells Health. “But most come on a soft string and you can insert one or two at a time, remove them, and then reinsert,” she says.
There’s some variation with the way anal beads are designed, too. “Some strands leave space between each bead and others are arranged with the beads in contact with one another,” O’Reilly says. “The anal sphincter muscles will respond with each insertion and removal.”
Here’s what else you need to know about anal beads, plus how to actually use them if you’re ready to take the plunge.
1. They’re not the same as a butt plug
Butt play 101: While they both go in your butt, a butt plug is actually different than anal beads. “A butt plug is intended to stay inside once inserted, while anal beads provide pleasure by being moved in and out,” Needle explains. Similarly to anal beads, however, butt plugs stimulate the nerves in the anus. They also stimulate the internal part of the clitoris and G-spot, which is why some women like to wear one during vaginal penetration.
RELATED: 6 Things Every Woman Needs to Know About Butt Plugs
2. You probably want to do more than just using the beads
While O’Reilly points out that you can technically insert the beads and go about your day, they’re usually used while you’re doing other things, like foreplay, oral sex, or penetrative sex.
3. Silicone is a good option
Silicone is safe and gentle on your body, and it’s also non-porous, so it doesn’t harbor bacteria, Laino says. (BTW, O’Reilly points out that stainless steel is also non-porous, but silicone is usually a less intimidating option for beginners.)
4. Start out slow
“Don’t go straight to penetration,” O’Reilly advises. She recommends teasing the outside of your anus before you actually dive in. Then, take slow, deep breaths. When you do insert the beads, keep in mind that it shouldn’t hurt. “It may feel a bit strange at first since you’re used to using this area as a one-way, exit-only street, but differentiating between unusual sensations versus painful ones is of paramount importance,” O’Reilly says.
5. Do it on your own first
That way, you can figure out what does and doesn’t work for you. “Play with your own butt in the shower or add a lubed finger from behind while you masturbate,” O’Reilly says. “Learn to feel your internal and external sphincters and practice squeezing and relaxing them around your lubed finger.”
6. Sanitize the heck out of it afterwards
Your butt has plenty of bacteria, and yeah, that bacteria is going to get on your beads. “Sanitizing is super important because of the bacteria in the rectum. Proper cleaning is a must as it is a very easy way to transmit an STI,” Laino says. To clean them, O’Reilly recommends thoroughly washing your beads with warm water and soap after every use and allowing them to dry before you store them. If you reached for lube while you were using the beads, make sure you sanitize your lube bottle afterwards, too.