Anal Explorations, Part 2: Long-Term Plug Wear
Last week, I answered a reader question about anal sex and hemorrhoids. This week, we'll continue our exploration of the intricacies of anal play by tackling a question about butt-plug usage:
What concerns might there be if one were to use butt plugs over long durations? As in, only removing when necessary?
Butt plugs are toys designed to be inserted into the anus and left in place (rather than moved in and out with a thrusting motion as one might use a dildo). Wearing a plug can create a sensation of fullness that can be pleasant during other types of play (oral sex or vaginal penetration, for instance) or all by itself. The best plugs are made from nontoxic materials that are easily sterilized (like 100% medical grade silicone), and they should definitely have a flared base that prevents the toy from slipping all the way inside the rectum.
Many people like to wear butt plugs for extended periods of time. Some will wear a plug during their daily activities, like going to work or running errands, to add a dimension of fun and naughtiness to their routines. It can be a thrill to have a "secret" that no one in your office knows about! Other people wear a plug to prepare for anal play later in the day, using the plug to get the anus accustomed to penetration and to generate excitement. Some use butt plugs as a tool in dominant/submissive relationships, with the dominant partner ordering his or her sub to wear a plug for a certain length of time.
There is a general consensus among sexuality educators that wearing a plug for 10-12 hours should cause no harm, as long as the user follows the general rules of anal play: Use lubricant, go slow and pay attention to your body's signals. If you are interested in wearing a plug for hours at a time, it's best to work up to this by gradually leaving the plug in place for longer and longer periods each time you wear it—don't try to go for 10 hours on the first attempt. Also, if you are experiencing pain or discomfort, remove the plug, even if it means that you don't reach your goal.
It's always important to use lube during anal play, but this is even more important when wearing a plug for a long period of time. Water-based lubricants will eventually dry up or be absorbed by the body and should be reapplied to prevent discomfort and chafing from the plug. Silicone lubricants will stay slippery longer, but can't be used with silicone toys, and I definitely would NOT recommend anything but silicone, glass or metal for extended anal wear, since toys not made from these materials can contain toxic chemicals that could cause irritation if they're in contact with your skin for a long period of time.
The type of plug you choose will also affect your comfort and thus your ability to wear it for extended periods of time. Plugs with a base that fits comfortably between your cheeks will be easy to wear while sitting, standing or walking, and plugs with a narrower neck and thicker top will be easier for your body to keep inside. You may need to experiment with a few different types to see which one is most comfortable for you.
Finally, be prepared for unexpected interruptions. Inserting a butt plug can cause peristalsis, which is the reflexive muscle action that moves matter through the digestive tract. In other words, you may need to poop, and you may need to poop suddenly. Think ahead about bathroom access if you'll be wearing a plug while out and about. Also, even though you've been able to wear a plug for four hours on one occasion does not mean that you'll always be able to do this with comfort. Take a plastic resealable baggie with you in case you need to remove the plug while away from home, and don't worry that you've "failed" somehow—sometimes our bodies can't do everything we want them to do.
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Laura Anne Stuart has a master’s degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than a decade. She owns the Tool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee’s East Side.