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Study on women’s anal pleasure shows there’s so much more than penetration

Researchers noted the “narrow” definition of “anal sex” – i.e. as in-and-out penetration – even if there are other unnamed, but distinct, anal touch techniques that many women, in particular, find pleasurable.

Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV from

Anal sex has long been linked with gay and bi men, and pre-op transgender women. Alas… no, even women – including those assigned female at birth – also derive pleasure from it. And a study published in PLOS ONE by Indiana University and For Goodness Sake researchers identified the specific anal touch techniques that are pleasurable for women.

The study – “Women’s techniques for pleasure from anal touch: Results from a U.S. probability sample of women ages 18–93” – was done by Devon J. Hensel, Christiana D. von Hippel, Charles C. Lapage, and Robert H. Perkins.

Here, the researchers gathered discoveries from 4,270 women from around the world in surveys, conducted 1,000 one-on-one interviews, and analyzed the results to find themes and underlying patterns. Those shared patterns then informed this quantitative, nationally representative survey of 3017 women, ages 18-93.

A key finding for them was the “narrow” definition of “anal sex” – i.e. as in-and-out penetration – but there are three previously unnamed, but distinct, anal touch techniques that many women find pleasurable.

The researchers specified these techniques, i.e.:

  • 40% of women find ‘Anal Surfacing’ pleasurable: sexual touch on and around (not in) the anus.
  • 35% of women find ‘Anal Shallowing’ pleasurable: touch just inside the anal opening, no deeper than a fingertip/knuckle.
  • 40% of women find ‘Anal Pairing’ pleasurable: touch on or inside the anus at the same time as vaginal penetration or clitoral touch.

“Clarity about the specific kinds of touch that feel good enables women to better identify their own preferences, communicate about them and advocate for them,” the researchers noted. And so “specifically, acquiring more words for what you find pleasurable, and seeing you’re not alone but that those preferences are shared by lots of other women, has been shown to increase sexual agency, advocacy and pleasure.


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