Okay, no beating around the bush, here: Anal oral is on the menu today, friends, and there are a couple of key things to know before diving in—especially if you’ve never been to the restaurant. No shame in that game, either; if you’ve been too nervous to even ask the question of what does rimming mean, fear not. Rimming, or giving a rim job, is essentially anilingus or anal oral. It’s the act of pleasuring the anal region by licking, sucking, kissing, or otherwise going to town on that area with your mouth. And since anal play holds the power to help close the orgasm gap, it’s a pleasure frontier absolutely worth exploring in deeper and broader ways.
But with rimming, there are some safety precautions of note to explore first. Below, Alicia Sinclair, certified sex educator and CEO of b-Vibe, and Evan Goldstein, DO, anal surgeon and founder of Future Method, weigh in on what you should know before you dig in.
4 things a sexologist and anal surgeon want you to know about how to practice rimming safely.
1. Beware of bacteria
“Many folks have legitimate concerns about bacteria,” says Sinclair. “The anus is where poop exits, so you have to be careful. Digestive bacteria and parasites such as E. coli and salmonella can be transferred from the butt to other body parts and pleasure tools during anal play.” That means wiping thoroughly after bathroom use and cleaning your rectal region pre-anal play is so important.
2. Be mindful of precautions against STI transmission
According to Dr. Goldstein and Sinclair, one specific STI to always look out for is herpes. “It is super common and can definitely be transmitted both ways—anal to oral or oral to anal,” says Dr. Goldstein “If there are any ulcerations that are present on either orifice, you should limit sexual activity until it’s been evaluated and/or fully healed.”
Other concerns include but are not limited to chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HPV. If you’re not up to date with your annual STI check and you’re diving in with someone new, then Sinclair recommends that you use protection like you would (or should) with any other sex play. (And, consider getting an STI screening and asking your partner to do the same.) “A dental dam is your best option,” she says.
3. You don’t want to play in too many holes
Cross-contamination, it’s a real thing! “It’s important to keep that in mind to avoid infection by being careful not to ‘double-dip’—meaning that you shouldn’t participate in any back-and-forth use of your sex toys, tongue, fingers, or penis,” says Sinclair. “This also applies to ass-to-mouth action. Stick to butt stuff or vagina stuff, and don’t cross over.”
4. And don’t forget to brush your teeth
When we talk about oral, we don’t want to forget oral hygiene. “Studies have shown that rinsing with original-strength Listerine can help reduce the risk of transmitting certain types STDs,” says Dr. Goldstein. “Prophylactic antibiotics or anti-fungals may be warranted if someone is experiencing recurrent infections, about two and three times a year.”