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Sexual Wellness

A Beginner’s Guide to Pegging

| 11/12/2019

Illustration by Emma Olswing

No need to beat around the butt: Today we’re talking about pegging—also known as D-in-B sex, butt-boning, and strap-on anal play.

Intrigued? Grab the lube and scroll down for a lesson in pegging.

What is pegging?

Put simply, pegging is when a vulva-haver straps on and anally penetrates a penis-haver—or, more broadly, when anyone wears a strap-on and anally penetrates anyone else.

The term was coined in 2001 by American author and LGBT activist Dan Savage, who decided that heterosexual couples needed a term for anal sex when the man is the catcher. According to sex educator Sarah Sloane, who’s been coaching sex toy classes at Good Vibrations and Pleasure Chest since 2001, the word “is still largely used within heterosexual contexts.” But folks of any gender and sexual orientation can perform and enjoy pegging, she says.

Why pegging feels good for the receiver

Anal penetration can feel good for anybody with a butt (read: everybody!) due to the sensitive ring of nerves around the opening of the anus and throughout the anal region. Why are those nerves so sensitive? Just one example: the pudendal nerve. It runs from the base of the spine throughout the genital and anal areas, but only 20% of the nerve fibers are needed for motor function. The rest are ripe for pleasure production.

For folks with penises, being anally penetrated can also massage the prostate. Colloquially known as the male G-spot, the P-spot is an erogenous zone located about two inches inside the rectum towards the belly, and is made of nerve-dense muscle tissue.

According to sex educator Cassandra Corrado with O.school, “For many people with prostates the sensation of prostate stimulation is incredibly intense.” One 2017 study published in the journal of Clinical Anatomy found that combining prostate play with penile stimulation can make orgasms “exceptionally pleasurable.”

“This erotic switch can be hot for both partners, and some feel like it promotes egalitarian action in the bedroom.”

However, just touching the erogenous zone without also touching the penis is enough for some people to have a prostate orgasm, says Corrado. Prostate orgasms don’t require an erection, don’t always entail ejaculating, and sometimes don’t even have a refractory period, she says: “Many people describe them as being full-body.”

For people with prostates, any kind of anal stimulation can elicit this physical response, but pegging can be especially hot emotionally and mentally, according to Carol Queen, a Good Vibrations sexologist who made the instructional video series Bend Over Boyfriend.

For heterosexual couples, pegging flips the script of which partner penetrates the other, says Dr. Queen. “This erotic switch can be hot for both partners, and some feel like it promotes egalitarian action in the bedroom,” she says.

The role reversal requires a ton of vulnerability. Because anal sex has been historically stigmatized as a “gay thing”— FYI, it’s about pleasure potential, not sexual orientation! — anal penetration can be difficult for “straight men” to request, Sloane explains. “That vulnerability can boost intimacy and trust,” she says.

Pegging is also common in BDSM play, because the person wearing the strap-on dildo may also flip the relationship’s usual power dynamic. That’s one reason it’s often described as a kink rather than a “natural” sex act. The most alluring reason to try pegging, though, is simply that it can feel amazing for both partners.

Can pegging feel good for the person who straps on?

Yes! “Where you’ll position the dildo will depend on what you feel gives you the most control,” says Corrado. But for many folks with vulvas, each thrust will cause the dildo to press against the pubic mound or clitoris.

Most harnesses also have a pocket in the front where you can pop a bullet vibrator like the Zee for constant clitoral stimulation.

The mind plays an important role in pegging as well. Just as a penis-haver may be mentally stimulated and satisfied by the role reversal that places them on the submissive receiving end, a vulva-haver can be aroused by the feeling of power that pegging can provide them.

Where to begin

Excited? Of course you are. But don’t get ahead of yourself: “Before you and your partner experiment with pegging, you need to talk about how you see the encounter playing out, and what about pegging turns you on,” says Sloane.

Once you’ve communicated (and communicated some more), get your gear. For a harness, Sloane recommends the Joque by Squarepants, which, she says, “is extremely adjustable and therefore will move with your body. When you pull out, the dildo will pull out, when you go in, the dildo will go in.”

“You can’t have enough foreplay, go slow enough, and use enough lube.”

For those trying pegging for the first time, Sloane recommends a simple silicone dildo like Tantus Silk Dildo or the Charm. “Start small to adjust to the sensation, and to help your partner’s body create a pleasurable memory around anal play, then increase in size as desired,” she says. Some of the sex toys you’ll need are available on Amazon, although it’s never a bad idea to patronize a reputable adult vendor directly.

And don’t forget the lube—the rectum is not self-lubricating. Because your toy is silicone, opt for a water-based lube like Alu or Sliquid Sassy.

If you or your partner is especially nervous about poop, you might want to invest in an enema douche bulb. (Or, for a cheaper option, a Fleet enema will do; just replace the irritating saline solution with warm water.) But this is not an absolute must!

Okay, so what about the day of? “You can’t have enough foreplay, go slow enough, and use enough lube,” Sloane says.

Start by loving on the other body parts your partner likes having licked, sucked, bit, stroked, and caressed. Then, help your partner acclimate to the sensation of anal stimulation by using your tongue, a finger, or a smaller plug. When you’re both ready, get in position and lube, lube, lube! “Doggy style can work well because it gives both partners some control, while missionary allows you to maintain eye contact,” says Sloane.

And if anal play isn’t a regular part of your sex life, you can ease into it with less-intimidating sexual activity like fingering, rimming or using a butt plug, before pegging (or being pegged). In fact, trying and enjoying those types of anal activity can make it much easier to initiate a discussion of strap-on butt sex.

Make it hotter

Now that you know pegging can be fun, experiment with a girthier or longer dildo, or vibrating cock ring. Or, try positions like rider-on-top and spooning, both which will allow you deeper penetration.

And remember: If it ever feels like you’re fitting a square peg into a small hole, pause, breathe, add more lube, and try again.

Pegging has been around for a very long time, but it really entered the “mainstream” sexual landscape when Broad City’s Abbi discovered the wonderful world of pegging – and even more so when Ryan Reynolds’ character in Deadpool was the receiver. Don’t be put off by the fact he didn’t like it – his reaction was just written in the script.

On the other hand, there is an important cautionary tale when contrasting the two mainstream portrayals of pegging. Abbi had an interested (in fact, eager) partner, as well as a friend who could talk her through it. Deadpool’s Wade was willing to try it (in honor of “International Women’s Day), but made his displeasure with the actual feeling quite very clear.

The moral of the story: pegging isn’t everyone’s sexual cup of tea,. That’s why honest communication is key to a successful butt-play session. If a partner isn’t interested, or wants to call off the pegging because – like Wade – they don’t like it, that should be the end of the session. If there’s a second moral to the story, it might be this: slow and incremental experimentation is better than plunging right in and winding up disappointed.

Finally, preconceived notions of anal sex and sexual orientation can often be a roadblock to pegging, or for that matter, any type of anal play. The best way to remove the roadblock is simply to view strap-on butt sex as a fun type of bedroom play between two consenting adults – with their gender identifies and orientation not even a consideration. By discarding stereotypes and just enjoying the moment, pegging may very well become a regular ingredient in your bedroom play.

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