Simon Sheppard, QSyndicate.com
Take good care of your ass, and it will take good care of you.
As delightful as anal sex can be, it can also pose risks. And we all want our hineys to be healthy and happy for many years to come, don't we?
While HIV has gotten most of the attention, there are plenty of other STDs, from warts to the clap, that can hit your hole, and some of them are potentially deadly, too. The proper use of condoms can certainly prevent many sexually transmitted diseases, but nothing is foolproof. It's a bummer, but you can get infected with an STD without even getting fucked.
Fortunately, most bugs can be successfully treated. Unfortunately, though, some of them may not produce clear symptoms. Syphilis, for instance, initially results in just a single painless sore at the site of infection – which, if it's inside the butt, will be invisible. "I get a syphilis blood test at least once or twice a year," says one man who sleeps around, "just in case. Last year it came up positive, and it was, fortunately, pretty easy to get rid of. I was really glad to have caught it early enough."
The human papillomavirus, which causes hell-to-get-rid-of anal warts, can also lurk in the body and result in cancer, even many years later. Therefore, a goodly number of doctors recommend periodic Pap smears for sexually active bottom guys.
And then there are nasty diseases that are usually noticeable, like gonorrhea, which results in a gooey discharge when you poop, and herpes, which causes painful, sometimes recurrent sores. It all sounds supremely unpleasant (and it can be), but medical science can most always put your miseries to rest in a jiffy.
Certainly, nobody (except perhaps a hardcore medical fetishist) relishes a trip to the doctor. But, as with many ailments, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of proctological cure. It's a matter of caring enough to take care of yourself. Says one STD-prevention worker, "I'm amazed at men who'll keep their cars tuned up, but won't bother to go in for regular sexual-health checkups. Maybe they're in denial or afraid of what they'll find out. But if something were wrong with you, would you rather find out early enough to make treatment easy, or wait till things have gotten worse?"
In addition to transmissible butt-bugs, plain old wear and tear can also be hell on a hole. Getting fucked too long, too hard, or without enough lube can leave your rosebud sore, or even bleeding. (Most post-sex anal bleeding, though, is fresh and short lasting. Should it persist, see a doctor.)
Good old hemorrhoids can cause pain, itching, and bleeding. The aforementioned anal warts can be a real pain in the butt. And though anal fissures – tears in the tissue – often heal within weeks, they may, in serious cases, require surgery.
Assholes may have gotten a bad name, but they're worthy of top-grade consideration.
In the long term, a high-fiber diet will help keep your butt in shape. And when you're screwing, cleanliness, condoms, and lots of lubrication count. That lube should be water-based, though, to keep the condom intact. And since water-based lubes do evaporate, replenish frequently while fucking.
Washing before and after sex can help keep germs to a minimum, but beware of overdoing douching – frequent enemas can impair the body's natural defenses. Never have anal sex if your butt is bleeding, or the anal lining is in bad shape, not even if your top is really, really hot. And of course you won't do anything really dumb – stuff like sharing nonsterile sex toys or sticking dangerous objects up your chute.
So where does that leave a would-be bottom? Certainly, like all good things in life, getting dicked has its dangers. And anal sex – whether topping or bottoming – is not a prerequisite for being queer. As one virgin says, "I've decided not to get screwed. At least not for now. There's just too much dangerous stuff out there. Yes, I know it feels good; I've done some solo dildo play. But – at the risk of sounding old-fashioned – I'm saving my cherry for a man I truly love."
You, and only you, have the last word on whether your sphincter is sacred or slutty. But regardless, be kind to your behind, because you only get one. Be good – and if you can't be good, be careful.
Simon Sheppard is the author of Kinkorama: Dispatches from the Front Lines
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