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Dear Sexpert, 

I’m a gay guy, but I’m actually not too fond of anal sex. I find the idea of it kind of disgusting, and also the act itself isn’t my favorite. I get the sense that guys assume that is where our sexual encounter is headed (no pun intended), but it’s not really what I want. Is it in some way required?

—  Butt Nothing

Dear Nothing,

First of all, let me say that this is quite a common phenomenon among men who have sex with men. Many people associate “gay sex” with anal sex, just as one might associate “straight sex” with vaginal sex, but these are by no means the only way for either of these groups to have enjoyable sexual experiences. 

So the simple answer is no, it is not required for people having “sex” to perform any particular sex act. One should never feel that he or she needs to perform any sex act to fully enjoy their sexual experiences.

Unfortunately, this is often easier in theory than in practice. For a variety of reasons, many people, no matter their sexual identity or partner, feel pressured to perform certain sex acts during sex. If this is the case, it may help to think of sex not as a simple progression — the classic baseball-sex metaphor — but a more complicated experience that can include different acts at different stages.

You may also want to try other forms of sex, like frottage, rubbing the penises together or intercrural sex, derived from the Latin word for “between the thighs.” Many people find these acts to be just as, if not more, pleasurable than anal sex. They also have the added benefit of being somewhat safer because many STIs require penetration to be spread, but be aware that some STIs, including genital warts and herpes, spread by skin-to-skin contact.

Finally, it may be the case that you have simply had a bad experience with anal sex in the past that is coloring your opinion of it. It is a comparatively difficult sexual act to perform — if the anal sphincter is not relaxed, it can cause pain or discomfort for both partners. So in short, your opinions by no means preclude you, theoretically or practically, from an enjoyable sex life. Just always remember to practice safe sex!

The Sexpert

Interested in Sexual Health? The Sexpert is always looking for passionate members of the community to join the team of sexual health educators who, along with fact-checking from University health professionals, help write these columns. Email for more information and, of course, with your questions about sexual health. Don’t be shy!

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