Goop—a weekly lifestyle publication curated by Gwyneth Paltrow—published its annual sex issue yesterday, and it features an in-depth Q&A about all things anal sex.
Let’s clear the air here: Anal sex may feel like a taboo subject, but a fair amount of couples experiment with butt play. In fact, 36 percent of women and 42 percent of men have tried anal sex, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But as Paltrow’s guide points out, that’s still not a huge number: “The reality about anal is not, actually, that everyone’s doing it,” sex researcher Paul Joannides, Psy.D, points out.
There are important things you need to know about anal sex before you try it, so you can make the tricky position as pleasurable as possible for both you and your partner. Paltrow’s guide includes information on how often people actually try anal sex, how to modify it to make it work for you, and the health risks to be aware of before engaging in it.
Here are three big things we took away from it.
TALK ABOUT IT WITH YOUR PARTNER FIRST.
You can’t have great sex without great communication.
“Make sure you and your partner have great sexual communication, trust, and that you both want to do it, as opposed to one trying to pressure the other, or not wanting to do it but doing it because you are afraid your partner will find someone else who will,” Joannides says.
He adds: “Couples who do not have excellent sexual communication, who don’t freely give and receive feedback about what feels good and what doesn’t, and who don’t have a high level of trust should not be having anal sex.”
FORGET WHAT YOU’VE SEEN IN PORN.
“Understand that the way you see anal sex portrayed in porn is about as real as how they drive cars in the The Fast and the Furious,” the article reads.
Porn isn’t reality: Thrusting deeply, quickly, or vigorously will only hurt her and cut your sex session short. Before you try it, read up on how you can make anal sex feel good for her. Then, start with this modified anal sex position. It will help make backdoor entry more enjoyable for her by giving her more control.
LUBE IS KEY.
Unlike her vagina, a woman’s bum provides zero natural lubrication, Joannides notes. Load up on a lube you both love to prevent any type of pain.
This article originally appeared on Men’s Health US.