Welcome to the fourth edition of Unscrewing Ourselves, where we hope to normalise topics on sexual and reproductive health and wellness.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a country that has only just recently unshackled the colonial chains of Section 377 of Indian Penal Code—freeing, in process, a whole demographic and allowing them to, well, love—will inevitably take some time to process, and eventually normalise, certain topics that concern sex. It is also established that certain sexual acts will remain shrouded in the garb of innuendos and euphemisms, at least in my lifetime.
Which is why, this week, we turn our attention to anal hygiene, a subject that has been wrongfully assigned to just queer sex. “Remember, it’s gay only if you enjoy it with another man. You can rim or get rimmed by your female partner too. Straight people may be shy to bring up their butt in the bedroom and may expect their partner instead to begin the conversation,” says this VICE piece.
Research on anal sex and hygiene in India ranges from one on female sex workers (with dismal revelations on the women being vulnerable to HIV due to inconsistent usage of protection by the clients) to this report that suggests that anal sex is a known contributor to issues such as urinary tract infection (UTI)—with E.coli as the most common pathogen that accounts for 80%-90% of the cases—and diabetes, among others. And it has already been established that condoms aren’t exactly the safest form of protection for this sexual act.
So, while sex education in India is a curriculum restricted to Netflix for now, we do our own prying with our guest contributor of the week, who calls himself Queen B*. A 29-year-old Mumbai-based journalist, Queen B* talks to VICE about why anal hygiene is more than just about sex:
Queen B*: Is anal hygiene important?
VICE: Yes, it is. It just makes sex better, especially if you enjoy anal sex. Also, you don't want the person penetrating you to get turned off if your nether region isn't clean. Let's just say I do it to avoid a sticky situation.
Should one have a system in place?
I think every gay guy has a system in place. I always douche before bottoming. An easy way to do this is to buy an enema. A disposable one purchased at a drugstore or pharmacy will do the trick (remember: many of them are filled with laxatives, which one should empty and replace with water before using), or a larger squeeze bulb with a plastic or silicone nozzle, purchased from a sex novelty shop or online (Amazon). Also, I avoid heavy meals if I know I'm going to engage in anal sex. A high-fiber, veggie-heavy diet is recommended. Avoid excessive red meat.
How should one prepare?
I did a lot of reading, watched a lot of videos on YouTube. I will recommend videos by Davey Wavey. I had a horrible experience once, which sort of made me more responsible when it came to anal hygiene. Let's just say I decided to take the plunge without douching, and I low-key pooped on him while he was penetrating me.
What is your guide to maintaining anal hygiene?
(A) Avoid sex at night, especially after a heavy meal. Over-the-sweater action is recommended.
(B) While early morning sex is the best, ensure you "flush out the toxins" and clean before getting back into bed for some action.
Some products I'd like to recommend:
How open are people across all spectrums to discussing a subject like anal hygiene in India?
I don't think they are. I, personally, haven't come across a workshop in Mumbai, or India for that matter, that addressed the issue. I hope I'm proved wrong. I just think most gay men are left to their own devices (no pun intended). I would ask my "seasoned" gay friends a lot of questions. My ex was also very gentle. He would tell me how I could prepare for anal intercourse, which helped me through my first douching session.
Do you think there's stigma/misinformation around a subject like this in the country?
I think people would just laugh it off. More than anal hygiene, I think most Indian men aren't well-versed in the art of penetrative sex. I wish more people would speak about it, or offer lessons in prepping for anal sex.
All I can say: Better education, better sex and less STDs.
*Name changed to maintain anonymity.
If there’s a subject within the spectrum of sexual and reproductive health in India that you feel strongly about and want to vocalise it, write to email@example.com.
Follow Pallavi Pundir on Twitter.