As a gay man, douching tips and fasting tricks are handed down within our community from older generations as something of a rite of passage. In the absence of any formal education about the science of “bottoming,” anal sex aficionados have had to rely on the often absurd, trial-and-error advice from our queer elders who have, ahem, come before us.
Over the past year a number of TikTokers have amassed a huge following by taking the once-taboo conversation online and busting age-old myths that you have to starve yourself in order to enjoy backdoor action.
What they weren’t expecting was for a huge percentage of their audience to be women.
Alex Hall, who runs a TikTok called The Bottoms Digest, has garnered more than 150,000 followers in just a year—60 percent of whom he says identify as women—by demonstrating how to cook recipes like beef stroganoff or mac and cheese and still engage in anal play.
Hall, who identifies as a gay man, said he was in his kitchen during the pandemic when he had a “light bulb moment” and discovered a pastime that incorporated his love of cooking and was both remote and educational.
“I am my own customer so I had a starting point of what works and what doesn’t work,” he told The Daily Beast. “I started trialing different recipes out on a test group of 10 which included men, women and trans people.
“I did a trailer for The Bottoms Digest on TikTok in May 2021 and left it for a few days. When I went back I found I had almost 10,000 followers off one video, and it wasn’t even a recipe,” he said. “Now, every time we post a recipe it feels like we get 10,000 more followers and they are either people who are looking to engage in bottoming, wanting to try it for the first time, or they have IBS or want a dairy-free recipe.”
Hall, who was the first TikToker to start a bottom-friendly cooking channel, says he gets overwhelmingly positive feedback from women.
“These recipes aren’t just about avoiding a mess. People who are on their periods say they love our recipes because it can help them with menstrual cramps or gas and bloating, which can make anal sex uncomfortable,” he said.
Research published last month by surgeons Tabitha Gana and Lesley Hunt found anal sex is “becoming more common among heterosexual couples” as it moves from only being seen in the world of porn to being featured in more mainstream media.
The pair found that in the U.K., anal sex had increased in popularity among 16- to 24-year-olds from 12.5 percent to 28.5 percent over the past few decades, while in the U.S. there was a similar trend—30 percent to 44 percent of men and women say they have engaged in anal play.
“It is no longer considered an extreme behavior but increasingly portrayed as a prized and pleasurable experience,” the authors said. “Young women cite pleasure, curiosity, pleasing male partners, and coercion as factors. Up to 25 percent of women with experience of anal sex report they have been pressured into it at least once. Hit television shows such as Sex and the City and Fleabag may unwittingly add to the pressure, as they seem to normalize anal sex in heterosexual relationships or make it appear racy and daring.”
The doctors said with a rise in the number of women having anal sex medical professionals have “a duty to acknowledge changes in society around anal sex in young women, and to meet these changes with open, neutral and non-judgemental conversations to ensure that all women have the information they need to make informed choices about sex.”
Dr Carlton Thomas, who has been a gastroenterologist for 19 years, says he was overwhelmed by the response from women when he made his first TikTok in October 2020 about anal sex.
“As a gay man and as a butt doctor I have had plenty of experience with butts,” he said. “I made an anal sex video very nervously the first time as I didn’t want TikTok to take down the content. I woke up the next day and I had 50,000 new followers. I looked at the analytics of it and strikingly it was 75 per cent women who were following. I thought it was going to hit the gay population but everyone has a butt.”
Doctor Carlton now has more than 270,000 TikTok and 55,000 Instagram followers. He says he finds more engagement with women on his TikTok, while his Instagram has a bigger following among gay men.
He told The Daily Beast that the overturning of rights to abortion access has understandably made women even more interested in ways to enjoy sex while avoiding an unplanned pregnancy.
“I think the topic of anal sex is becoming less taboo for women to talk about and with abortion rights at stake in a lot of places, other ways of having sex is something they are thinking about,” he said.
Doctor Carlton says his top tip for people wanting to have anal sex is no food within an hour of play time and to not overdo it with douching.
“I tell people you don’t have to develop an eating disorder to be a bottom. As long as you don’t eat an hour before you have sex you are pretty much OK because your stomach sends a message to your colon to empty about 15-30 minutes after you eat called gastrocolic reflex,” he said. “When you are cleaning out there is no need to spend 4 to 5 hours in the bathroom—that is concerning to me. I do a video called The Second Hole where I show a diagram of your rectum and colon. You only have to clean the last bit of your rectum if you go above the turn then you can make it a messier issue.”
Finally, the good doctor says the trick is to be well-lubricated.
“I always suggest once it is comfortably in and lubricated to try every position because the curve of one penis might be different to the curve of someone’s rectum. Doggy style with someone might not feel as good as missionary with someone else,” he said.
As more experts keep educating people on how to safely and enjoyably experience anal play, Hall says he hopes more people will feel comfortable and confident to try it out.
“Social media does help to have that conversation in a country where we don’t have good sex ed. We are hopefully passing down more accurate information and not these made-up lies which have existed for so long that we have to starve or sacrifice our health essentially for what may only be a 30-minute hook-up,” he said.
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