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Anal sex or anal intercourse is generally the insertion and thrusting of the erect penis into a person's anus, or anus and rectum, for sexual pleasure. Other forms of anal sex include fingering, the use of sex toys for anal penetration, oral sex performed on the anus (anilingus), and pegging. The anal sphincters are usually tighter than the pelvic muscles of the vagina, which can enhance the sexual pleasure for the inserting male during male-to-female anal intercourse because of the pressure applied to the penis.
While some women find being a receptive partner during anal intercourse painful or uncomfortable, or only engage in the act to please a male sexual partner, other women find the activity pleasurable or prefer it to vaginal intercourse.
In addition to sexual penetration by the penis, people may use sex toys such as butt plugs or anal beads, engage in fingering, anilingus, pegging, anal masturbation or fisting for anal sexual activity, and different sex positions may also be included.
Because most research on anal intercourse addresses men who have sex with men, little data exists on the prevalence of anal intercourse among heterosexual couples.
Anal sex being more common among heterosexuals today than it was previously has been linked to the increase in consumption of anal pornography among men, especially among those who view it on a regular basis.
Historically, anal sex has been commonly associated with male homosexuality. However, many gay men and men who have sex with men in general (those who identify as gay, bisexual, heterosexual or have not identified their sexual identity) do not engage in anal sex. Gay men who prefer anal sex may view it as their version of intercourse and a natural expression of intimacy that is capable of providing pleasure.
Women may sexually stimulate a man's anus by fingering the exterior or interior areas of the anus; they may also stimulate the perineum (which, for males, is between the base of the scrotum and the anus), massage the prostate or engage in anilingus. With regard to lesbian sexual practices, anal sex includes fingering, use of a dildo or other sex toys, or anilingus.