How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Have a question? Send it to Stoya and Rich here. It’s anonymous!
Every week, the crew responds to a bonus question in chat form.
Dear How to Do It,
I want anal, but my wife refuses to try—not because she knows anything about it, but because she believes it may lead to infertility. How can I broach the topic without pressuring her, explaining the science?
—At the Other Door
Stoya: There’s the usual risk from chlamydia, which can absolutely cause infertility in women. But that’s not specific to anal, and they may be an exclusive married couple.
Rich: There’s at least some research behind the idea that sperm in the GI tract, via oral or anal, can cause the body to revolt, creating anti-sperm antibodies, which have been detected in some infertile couples as well as fertile people.
But here’s the thing: Though evidence suggests this is possible, anal is surely not the only cause of anti-sperm antibodies, which are surely not the only cause of infertility. We’re talking about fractions of fractions here. Think of it this way: Crossing the street is definitely a way in which you could get hit by a car, but it probably won’t happen. That’s about as useful as the science is here in determining yay or nay on anal.
Stoya: Our writer’s wife’s concerns aren’t totally unfounded, though.
Rich: But that she’s taking such a small risk and blowing it up as the reason suggests either that she has been terribly misled about the danger here, or she has other misgivings with anal. And I’m leaning toward the latter option, because if she were into it, she’d likely take whatever small chance there may be.
Stoya: I’m not sure what to do with “my wife refuses to try” and “How can I broach the topic without pressuring her?”
Rich: Yeah, this is a little like, “Can you help me use science to talk my wife into anal?”
Stoya: I had one of these letters a couple of years back. I wrote that I wasn’t going to help him coerce his wife. The recurrence has me wondering: Do these guys (all two of them we’ve heard from) feel entitled to the asses of their wives?
Rich: Or they’re just so optimistic about their chances, it’s actually becoming toxic. Sometimes when someone knows nothing about something, it means that they simply haven’t thought to think about it; other times, it means they don’t want to think about it. Again, I’d be willing to bet on the latter scenario here.
This might be useful for him, though, and I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt: Writer, show your wife some links about anti-sperm antibodies, and have a conversation about the very low risk for infertility that anal may pose. I bet you dollars to doughnuts that she comes up with another reason because she’s not interested in anal. Let it drop there.
Stoya: And like really let it drop. Don’t bring it up again on your birthday. Or keep asking to see if her opinion has changed. Or updating her with every Google Alert on the subject of anti-sperm antibodies. Or talking wistfully about how much you’d love to penetrate her rear.
Rich: The back door may be closed forever; if that’s the case, it’s his job to cope with that and not attempt to pry it open.
More How to Do It
I have a recurring thought that might turn into a problem. I’m married to a man I adore, and we have an incredible sex life that I wouldn’t change for the world: passionate, fun, multiple orgasms per session. However, while my body is overjoyed, my mind is struggling. My husband is slightly shorter than average, and his dick is smaller than average as well. This is something I’ve always known and has never impacted our sex life. But I had a friend complaining about a below-average-sized lover, and it got me all in my head. Now when I look at my husband in bed, I can’t not notice that he’s small.