How risky is anal sex?
Although many people assume that only gay men have anal sex (see
How risky is barebacking?), the
reality is that anal sex is actually more common among heterosexuals
than among gay men. Many young people—particularly young
women—believe that by having anal intercourse rather than
vaginal intercourse, they are protecting their virginity. They
may believe anal sex doesn't count as sex because it cannot result
in pregnancy. For this reason, some don't believe there is any
need to practice safe sex and disease prevention.
Body fluids that can transmit HIV and\
sexually transmitted infections include pre-ejaculatory
fluid ("pre-cum"), semen, and blood (including menstrual
blood). The person receiving the semen (referred to as the receptive
partner) is at higher risk of getting HIV because the linings
of the anus and rectum are thin and tiny tears can allow the HIV
virus to enter the bloodstream during anal sex.
To reduce the risk of HIV and other
sexually transmitted infections during anal sex,
use condoms. When used properly, condoms
make anal intercourse a low-risk activity. Use of a water-based lubricant
reduces the risk of condom breakage and of tears or rips of the anus.
Did you know?
Using female condoms for anal intercourse
may reduce the risk of contracting HIV and other
sexually transmitted infections, but this has not been
tested. Female condoms were not designed for anal intercourse and a latex
male condom should be used instead. If you
must use a female condom, note that the inner ring should be removed for
use during anal sex.
Consider other anal sex activities that carry less of a risk. These
include anilingus (anal stimulation with mouth/tongue), manual-anal
penetration (anal intercourse using the hands), or use clean or unshared
If you've had unprotected anal sex: