When people think of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), they usually think only of those related to vaginal intercourse or oral sex. And while it’s true that the majority of STDs are transmitted in this manner, having anal sex with the thought you’re protected from such infections is a risky practice.
In fact, Valley Teen Clinic explains STDs actually transmit more easily through anal sex because the skin of the anus is thinner than that of the vagina, and the anus offer no natural lubrication to keep skin from tearing. Open sores or tears give STDs, especially those like HIV and hepatitis, a direct route into the body.
“Anal sex produces a certain amount of trauma to the body and that’s a problem, especially for HIV,” Myron Cohen, MD, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases at the University of the North Carolina School of Medicine, told Health.
What STDs can you get from anal sex?
The answer to this question is simple: all of them.
Having anal sex does not protect you from any STD, and people who have unprotected anal sex are still at-risk for HIV, herpes, HPV (genital warts), syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and hepatitis B, just to mention a few.
Not only are these STDs easily transmitted through the thin skin of the anus, the partner who penetrates during anal sex is at risk for easy disease contraction because the anus is a prime area of bacteria to propagate. This risk remains even if a condom is being used; the sores and warts associated with herpes and genital warts can be present both inside and outside of the anus, making infectious contact much more likely.
When it comes to anal sex, herpes can be transmitted even without the presence of active sores.
How can you have anal sex and not worry about STDs?
The safest method of having anal sex is while using a condom.
However, keep in mind that condoms are more likely to break during anal intercourse because of the amount of friction and stress placed on them during this sexual activity, and even if a condom remains intact, the rectum can still tear and bleed and allow for the passage of germs into the body.
To prevent tearing of the skin and condom breakage, lubrication should be used during anal sex. A report from Cornell University indicates water-based or silicone lubricants are the only ones which should be used for safe sex, and oil-based lubricants can break down latex condoms, making them more prone to failure.
Of the two—water-based and silicone—silicone lubricants are the best for anal sex as they offer longer protection and are considered to be more pleasurable for both partners.
Other health risks associated with anal sex
STDs are not the only reason anal sex is considered one of the most risky forms of intercourse. WebMD indicates repeated anal sex can weaken the anal sphincter, making it difficult to hold in feces if you have the urge to suddenly go to the bathroom. While Kegel exercises can correct this problem, continued anal sex may keep the sphincter weak regardless of preventative measures.
For women, mixing anal sex with vaginal intercourse can cause the spread of bacteria into the urinary system and result in a urinary tract infection after sex. Vaginal penetration should not follow anal sex in order to reduce risks as much as possible.