How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t worry, we won’t use names.
Every Thursday night, Stoya and Rich will answer one bonus question in chat form. This week, a literal “how to do it.”
Dear How to Do It,
In the past, I never really had anal sex, not because I was against it but because it seemed like something that took a lot of prep that I didn’t understand, and I was happy without it. Lately, I’ve taken it up in a concentrated way—I tend to be a little bit of a project manager when I try something new, sexually or otherwise—and I really like it. It’s been a revelation in a lot of ways. But what I hate is the prep work. Douching is, generally, a struggle: Often a long process that, by the time I’m done, makes me want to stick nothing up there at all. I’ve learned that towels are my friends, and most guys are very understanding about it, but I find myself wondering if anal sex is just frequently messy and I should accept that or if I could be doing something better. Tell me the secrets.
Stoya: I’m charmed that they’re organized about their anal.
Rich: Yes, it’s very polite. There’s a lot of truth here—specifically the premise that anal often gets messy, despite our best intentions.
Stoya: My philosophy has always been “You’re going to poop’s house, and you can’t really get mad if they’re home.”
Rich: I 100 percent agree. And when guys do get mad, it’s a total turnoff. I understand not wanting to play with poop and, like, suggesting cleanliness. A general notice to tidy up for visitors.
Stoya: Yeah, to be clear I’m not advocating for scat.
Rich: But they don’t say “shit happens” for nothing. I like when a guy is relaxed enough not to make a big deal about it. How a man handles rogue poop can tell you a lot about his maturity and experience.
Stoya: What’s the taxonomy like on that one? Like are there shruggers and shriekers?
Rich: Well, I haven’t met a shrieker yet, but it would almost be worth not cleaning out to elicit such a comically extreme reaction. I think it’s mostly guys who, yeah, shrug and then guys who get totally turned off to the point of shutting things down. That’s so fussy that it turns me off.
Stoya: Douching itself is incredibly fussy.
Rich: It’s such a pain in the ass. Right in the ass.
Stoya: I learned (the hard way) not to use the saline liquid that comes packed in the disposable bottles. And by the hard way, I mean shitting my brains out in the privacy of my apartment and then getting laughed at for the rookie mistake. The saline is a laxative. So, like, you think you’ve pooped, but the saline is still doing its thing and the poop just keeps coming.
Rich: Wow. I usually just use my own reusable nozzle, but in the event that it’s not right by my side, I have used drug-store enemas and I did not realize this. Finally, a few embarrassing situations have an explanation. It’s all coming together—this is like Murder, She Wrote but for douching. Douche, She Wrote. I do agree with our writer that douching is a laborious process for often-uncertain results. I mean, it takes me a half-hour, on average.
Stoya: And you need a ton of filtered water.
Rich: Ohhh, you use filtered. God, I’m such an amateur.
Stoya: You’re a New Yorker. The city has some of the best tap water in the world.
Rich: The champagne of ass water, I like to say.
Stoya: But like L.A.? No way I’m sticking L.A. tap water in my our-job-is-to-absorb-things intestines.
Rich: This is so wise.
Stoya: I learned that one from porn deity Belladonna.
Rich: It really is annoying when you just can’t get it spotless.
The people who can, I wonder how they do it. It probably involves dietary restrictions and fiber.
Stoya: Yup. No coffee, which was a deal-breaker for me.
Rich: I’d rather give up bottoming than coffee. I’m glad I haven’t had to choose, but when I think about it, my loyalties ultimately lie with caffeine over dick.
Stoya: So it sounds like you eat whatever, copiously rinse out, and then hope for the best?
Rich: Yes, and this counts as progress. I used to not douche at all and just hope for the best. Well, that quickly showed itself to be unsustainable, and so I started. But my butt’s wild, carefree days did teach me one thing: If you shit on a guy’s dick and he wants to hook up again, that is a compliment.
Stoya: Yes! And that means they’re probably chill and on board with the fact that you have a body that does things that might be kind of gross sometimes, because that’s what bodies do.
Rich: They’re actually seeing you as … human. Imagine!!!
Stoya: I’m thinking of Jesse Bering’s Perv, where he talks about disgust and arousal as this kind of seesaw. He mentions it in passing on his way to larger points, but it really struck me as true. You get really aroused and things like poop are a disregardable happenstance, and then when you aren’t aroused, you’re all “ewwwww,” because poop.
Rich: Oh totally. I guess my ego likes that disregard too. If the sex with me is enough to override the potential disgust from accidental poop, that—I want that. As weird as it sounds, poop makes for a good social barometer.
Stoya: So our letter writer is definitely not alone in disliking douching, and towels definitely are their friend.
Rich: For sure. And I think daily Metamucil or some other kind of psyllium husk supplement would be useful. It’s not a panacea, believe me, but it does help bind stuff and make it easier to flush out.
Stoya: And avoiding spicy foods, excess dairy, and caffeine for the prior 36 hours can definitely help the, um, stool consistency.
Rich: Also those douche shower attachments can speed things along. Blast the monsters out.
Stoya: In case they’re tempted to mess around with stuff like Imodium, just don’t. And they definitely shouldn’t restrict total food intake. These are actual things people have actually done for the sake of squeaky clean anal. OK, fine, the latter is an actual thing I did. I learned better.
Rich: I think to have anal is to be in a state of uncertainty—“Is it clean down there? Is it still clean down there?”—but that’s just like life anyway. You have to embrace it to have fun.