"Does it hurt?"

"Will I poop all over his life?"

"Does it make me gay?"

These are the questions we ask ourselves when it comes to anal sex — questions that are often based on myths perpetuated by the pervading taboo of butt stuff. After all, despite its increasing popularity, there's still a lot of fear and uncertainty about the act … fear and uncertainty that prevent us from experiencing the pleasure that correctly executed anal can bring.

So, in the name of your pleasure and sexual knowledge, we did some research to sort out the facts and fictions of anal sex. Here's what we found.

Myth: You can jump right in to anal sex

Some of the myths about anal sex — like that it'll hurt — are actually true if you decide to just stick it in sans warning or warm-up.

That's why you must have patience, young grasshopper … especially if you or your partner are butt sex newbs. Instead of going for the full monty the first time, anal sex experts recommend you work your way up to it with baby steps. This, they say, will yield the most pleasurable result.

You can start by experimenting with your own butt, playing around with different types of touch, pressures and penetration levels to find out what feels good. Doing this primes your anus for pleasure and warms you up mentally and physically to the idea that something vaguely cone-shaped will one day be thrusting about in there.

Next, get yourself a very small, very unimposing toy such as a butt plug or a prostate stimulator, and start to play around with insertion. Most anal toys have a base, meaning you can covertly and comfortably wear them around all day long without anyone noticing. You don't have to wear it for that long to reap the benefits, but the longer you keep it in and the more you can forget about it being there, the more it'll give you a light stretch and help you acclimate to the pleasant feeling of having something up your butt.  Many anal training toys also come in kits with graduated sizes so you can start out small and work your way up to something dick-sized or bigger — if you're pretty tight or nervous, try one of those.

Once you feel comfortable will the full-butt feeling and you've determined what kind of touch feels good on your anus, communicate this to your partner so they know how to not anally ream you.

Lastly, incorporate anal foreplay into sex before you go full-out butt stuff. Have your partner lick or gently caress your anal area at a pace and pressure you've already determined feels good — this'll help you learn to associate the sensation of partnered touch with your own anal pleasure.

After you do that? Then you can stick it in.

Myth: That your entire body and apartment will be covered in poop

Ha! If poop were that much of a problem during anal sex, no one would have it.

Instead, everyone's having it. Forty-four percent of straight men, 36 percent of straight women and between 55-80 percent of gay men do it regularly (we couldn't find reliable statistics for lesbians or bisexuals). Clearly, it's not as big of an issue as you'd like to clutch your precious pearls about.

The reality is, if you take the proper precautions, poop will never enter the equation during anal. And just what are these precautions? They're simple.

1. You know the feeling when you have to poop? Don't fuck when you have that feeling.

… That's pretty much it. There's no magic or secret hot tips here — poop avoidance is as easy as listening to your body and knowing where it's at in your daily poop cycle.

And if you don't know when you're gonna shit next? You can make your poops more regular by limiting what you eat that day to bland, fibrous foods and to giving yourself a little baby enema on the day you plan to have anal. Both will ensure your ass is as clean as it's gonna get.

Still not convinced? Here's a fun fact for you: your anus isn't even where poop is stored. It actually hangs out in your colon, at the end of your large intestine, until you tell it you're ready for it to come out and play. While there might be trace amounts of poop in your anus, or some shit residue in there, it's easy to clean these away in the shower. Your partner can also wear black condoms, finger cots or gloves to minimize the sight of this trace poop on their bodies, if it ends up being there at all. You can always use a dental dam during analingus too — those things were born to keep you from getting micropoop in your permanent retainer.

Myth: That it'll hurt like spicy hell

While you might experience some temporary pain or discomfort if you forgo the proper anal warm-up steps, pain is absolutely not a prerequisite for butt sex, and should never be part of the equation. In fact, any pain you experience is a definitive sign that you should stop what you're doing and reassess.

But, if you put in the work to do buttsex right, those of us who've experienced the ecstasy of an anal or prostate orgasm know that a well-lubed digit, toy or genital can do wonders. In fact, our bodies are wired for it — the anus is home to more pleasurable nerve endings than anywhere else in the human body (second only to the clitoris), and actually boasts more of them the head of the penis. Because of this, anal sex can, and should, be immensely pleasurable. All you have to do to make it so is follow the three cardinal rules of anal sex: communication, relaxation and lubrication.

We outlined these rules in a previous article about proper butt play:

"Communication is key in every sexual situation as it allows partners to keep everyone in the loop about their sexual wants and needs, seamlessly leading to our second tenant, relaxation. The anus is made of two sphincter muscles. The most important for anal sex is the outer sphincter — or the opening that connects your anus to the outside world. We have some control over what goes in and out of our butt thanks to the voluntary nature of this sphincter. If we’re feeling stressed, uncomfortable, tense, or just plain grumpy after eating at Chipotle after we promised we’d never go back there, our outer sphincter will be like Fort Knox. And you can bet it will feel painful to force anything up there. But if we’re feeling relaxed, comfortable, in love, in intense lust, or Barry Manilow is playing in the background, then we can become loosey-goosey, offering entry to a finger, and then maybe two, and then, oh boy, does that feel dandy.

Which leads us to lubrication. Unlike other body parts that become ooey-gooey all on their own, the anus is not a self-lubricating organ. But due to the wonders of modern science, this need not be a problem. Lube — whether water, silicone, or flaxseed based — solves that problem for us. And be sure to go slow, communicate throughout, and re-apply that lube whenever necessary."

Myth: Anal sex retains your precious virginity

No. No, no, no.

Anal sex is sex. Moving on.

Myth: That if you're a guy, it somehow makes you gay

Ah. So many arguments against this one.

First of all, not all gay men do it in the butt.  A (admittedly old) 2005 study by the CDC estimated that between 55 and 80 percent do, but that leaves a husky 20-45 percent of gay men whose anuses are no-fly zones. Does that make gay men somehow not gay if they're not having anal? Go ahead, think about it. We'll wait.

Apart from that, the idea that your sexuality can be determined by what goes in and out of your butt is beyond ridiculous. Objects don't make you gay or straight or something in between … you do. You make a conscious decision which sexuality, or combination of sexualities you identify with — it's not up to your butt plug or your partner's fingers to make that call. Therefore, the sort of physical stimulation you choose to get yourself off with could not be more irrelevant in that regard.

Myth: That it's unsafe

While it's true that almost every single STI can be easily spread through improperly conducted buttsex (including AIDS, gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis), there are also a ton of ways to minimize those risks … and they don't differ that much from the risk prevention that goes along with vaginal or oral sex.

For one, lube, lube and more lube will dramatically decrease the changes of STI transmission from anal sex. Because the sensitive tissue of the anus does not self-lubricate like the vagina or oral cavity, it can be prone to micro-tears from dry friction that expose small amounts of a person's blood supply to whatever person or thing is inside them. A good lube will minimize that risk by making the anal tissue more slippery and moist (coconut oil or this stuff called Slam Dunk are great).

And obviously … condoms. Condom technology that increases safety and pleasure has made leaps and bounds within the last few years with the release of models like Lelo's Hex condom, so there's really no reason to forgo a good dick baggie.

Myth: That once you do it, it's all a guy will ever want

Yeah, assholes are generally tighter than hands, mouths or vaginas, but that fact alone doesn't mean that once you have buttsex with a dude that that's all he'll ever want. Tightness is cool, but it's not so revolutionary or superior that it nullifies the pleasure other body parts gives, and most men are unlikely to want to forfeit the variety of pleasure they experience from your other orifices in the name of only fucking you in the butt from this day forth for the rest of eternity.

Anal sex is also fickle. You can't have it as easily as vaginal or oral (or handjobs or footjobs or blah blah blah), so it's highly unlikely that it'll become the primary mode of sex you engage in (unless you want it to be).

Because of this, anal sex tends to become more of a one-off "treat" that people mix into their regular sexual repertoire. If you're super into it, you can obviously have it more often than that, but there's no reason to think it's the only option.

Myth: That it's for everyone

This whole article, we've been talking about how great anal sex is. But, the reality is that some butts were just not made for backdoor entry. Think about the immense biological diversity that exists within our species — the shapes and characteristics of people's dicks, boobs, vaginas and faces differ wildly, and anuses are no exception to that rule. There are, walking around this earth, people with anal cavities that aren't rigged for pleasure in the same way others are — but … that's totally okay. People like different things and there's not a single thing wrong with you if what you like just happens to not be anal.

However, knowing that is still yet another argument for self-experimentation. You don't know what you're working with down there until you try.

On a more mental note, it's also okay to straight up not be turned on by anal. A lot more people are trying it and liking than ever, but still — if it's not your thing, it's not your thing. And, like we mentioned before, since relaxation is a huge part of what makes buttsex pleasurable, if you're not relaxed and into it, it can really suck.

So, know yourself. Poke around down there. You might like what you find, and if you don't, you have like 12 other holes to fuck with.