For those of you that have organically found yourself googling "anal beads" in the depths of incognito mode possibly hoping to find butt jewelry, I'm sorry. Contrary to the name, anal beads are not free-floating pendants for your rectum, although that is certainly a Shark Tank episode I would watch all the way through. Rather, the sex toy gets its name from the bulbs attached to a cord, resembling beads on a string. The cord makes retrieval easy, which is important as much of the sensation associated with anal beads is actually in the removal. Sometimes each bead gradually increases in size going up the string, and sometimes the beads are all the same size. If you’re curious about the best non-accessory of the butt play world, read on:
1. Try it in the shower. Stella Harris, certified sex coach, explains that this is often a good way to experiment with anal beads if you’re hesitant about any potential mess. Since water ≠ lube, make sure you use good silicone lube. If the anal beads you’re using are also silicone, you’ll want to use a condom over them as silicone on silicone is a bad idea. Or, you can use a glass or steel toy — two materials that also allow for temperature play opportunities too.
2. Don’t forget to sanitize your lube container afterwards! If you grab for more lube while you’ve already used your hands for anal play, you really want to sanitize and clean the actual container and packaging afterwards too. Harris also suggests investing in an automatic lube dispenser, or filling a disposable dixie cup with the lube you’ll need for each session ahead of time, and then disposing of it afterwards
3. It's not the same as a butt plug. A butt plug provides a totally different sensation than anal beads. Alicia Sinclair a sex educator, explains that butt plugs are meant to go in your anus and stay in, while beads provide stimulation by being moved in and out of your butt. Whereas beads are supposed to be inserted one at a time for the same feeling of "fullness" from a butt plug, half the fun of beads is also the removal. You can pull them out and pop them back in again and again. The movement will stimulate the nerve endings of your sphincter to feel like you're basically massaging your b-hole.
4. Don't go cheap with anal beads — you want something you're going to feel safe tugging on to remove. Sinclair says to stay away from any cheap plastic anal beads with a thin, fabric string, as there's no way to clean them and they harbour bacteria.
5. Silicone anal beads are the best material for beginners to start with. Sinclair says it's body-safe, nonporous, and will be the easiest to clean. To clean silicone, all you really need is mild soap and warm water. Anal beads are also available with more rigid beads, like a stainless steel or glass wand.
6. Go solo. Sinclair always suggests newbies try anal beads alone first. "It's always a great idea to try something new out by yourself first, so you know what you like and don't like." There's a lot less pressure when it's just you. If you do try it with a partner, make sure everyone has discussed it beforehand and that both of you are comfortable.
7. Start small! Kenna Cook, sex educator says that sometimes when trying out new toys, your eyes can be bigger than your anus. A set of anal beads will normally start small, with each bead gradually getting larger and larger. Sinclair says she recommends beginners try something with just three or four small to medium beads. You don't want to make any promises your anus can't keep.
8. Go slow and use lots of lube. Cook says to go very slowly when inserting and removing the beads. Don't just rip it out! "Slow in and slow out! They are completely different sensations. Be gentle with your anal tissues since the anus does not create its own lubrication and too much friction can cause tearing." For silicone anal beads, use water-based lube. If your beads are glass or metal, you can also use silicone lube. Sinclair recommends using lube both on your body, as well as applying some to the actual beads themselves, to make things as easy and pleasurable as possible.
9. Don't forget to take deep breaths. Rachel Gelman, DPT, PT, a pelvic floor physical therapist, says that with anything anal, the trick is to go slow, get good lube, and practice deep breathing. She explains that breathing from your diaphragm will help you relax your pelvic floor, which will make the whole experience "easier". To see if you are breathing from your diaphragm, you can put one hand on your upper chest, and one over your belly button as you breathe in through your nose. The hand on your belly button should move first, and your chest should move as little as possible.
10. Use a condom with your anal beads if you're using it with more than one person. Sinclair also recommends using a condom if the toy is made of hazardous, porous material like jelly, to create a protective barrier. If you're sharing the toy with your partner, you can also change a new condom over the toy when you switch between partners. You'll still be able to ~feel~ each bead with a condom, and it makes cleanup slightly easier. Make sure the condom doesn't have any numbing agents (pain is your body's way of knowing when to chill) and doesn't have silicone-based lube on it.
11. Baby wipes are going to be your new best friend. Any "mess" really depends on how well you know your own body and digestive system. Sinclair says if you want to clean up before using anal beads, you have a variety of choices. If you're looking for a quick clean, you can just use alcohol-free, unscented, hypoallergenic baby wipes; if you have some time, you can try to have a bowel movement 30-60 minutes beforehand and then wash your anal area with soap and warm water. Afterwards, you can use those baby wipes again to clean up. Sinclair also suggests taking an Epsom salt bath afterwards, as it can feel purifying and pampering for sore muscles.
12. Thoroughly wash your toys and do your laundry right afterwards. Sinclair says your anus contains specific bacteria that shouldn't be shared, so wash any dirty towels or sheets, dispose of any used latex barriers, and thoroughly wash your toys with soapy hot water. Don't let that stuff sit around.
13. There are several different ways to use anal beads. Sinclair says you can try taking them out as you near climax for a whole new different take on orgasms or use anal beads as a warm-up before sex. Sinclair says you can leave them in safely for about 2-3 hours. But don't go overboard, and like, fall asleep with them in.
14. Get comfortable with the smallest bead before you move onto a larger size. Sinclair says to insert and remove the smallest bead a couple of times to warm up before moving onto a larger bead.
15. Don't be afraid to multitask. Sinclair says that since anal beads can be worn hands-free, you can use your free hands for other erotic matters. Masturbate with a toy, play with your nipples, get handsy with a partner, you do you! You can also wear anal beads during penetrative sex — Sinclair says the beads can provide an "extra pleasurable sensation or both partners."