Do Women Like Anal? Anal Sex Statistics [2022]

We dug into the research to determine if women like anal sex, how often people have anal, if there are any risks to it, and more.  So let’s get to it, shall we?

Anal sex can be a controversial topic.

Some love it, some think it’s weird, and others hate it and would never try it. Some men (and women) claim that women often enjoy anal, but(t) that isn’t always the case. 

Top Anal Sex Statistics You Should Know:

  • 35.9% of women and 42.3% of men had ever had anal sex in the United States.
  • 31% of women described anal intercourse as enjoyable in one study.
  • 81.7% of women found their first experience receiving anal sex to be painful. 
  • 77.6% (over three-quarters) of women have had at least one bad anal sex experience.
  • 82% of women reported that their male partners had initiated their first occasion of anal intercourse
  • 25% of women said they had been forced into having anal intercourse at least once.
  • Of all women who like anal sex, 51.5% of them still prefer vaginal sex over anal sex.
  • Only 4.1% prefer anal sex over vaginal sex.
  • 82% of women indicated that they had not used condoms during the first occasion of anal sex.
  • STD diagnoses are 2.6 times more likely in those who have unprotected anal sex as those who have unprotected vaginal sex.
  • 57.4% of women who’ve had anal sex also like being anally fingered.

What is Anal Sex?

Before we dive into the stats, first, we have to define anal sex:

  • Anal sex is any sexual activity that involves the anus. 
    • This doesn’t always include penetration with a penis. Anal sex can mean using sex toys, fingers, or a tongue. People of all sexual orientations and gender identities can have anal sex. (WebMD, 2020)1

How Common Is Anal Sex in America?

Do many people have anal sex, or is it just a small minority? Here’s what studies have shown:

  • Between 6% and 40% of couples report having anal sex.
    • Up to 10% of heterosexuals reported at least one instance of anal in the previous year. (Journal of Sex Research, 2010)2
  • 20–30% of US women reported having anal sex at least once in their life, and 19%–32% of US women reported having had anal sex in the last 6–12 months. (Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2009)3
  • 35.9% of women and 42.3% of men had ever had anal sex in the United States. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016)4
  • Between 6% and 40% of couples report having anal sex.Up to 10% of heterosexuals reported at least one instance of anal in the previous year. (Journal of Sex Research, 2010)2
  • 20–30% of US women reported having anal sex at least once in their life, and 19%–32% of US women reported having had anal sex in the last 6–12 months. (Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2009)3
  • 35.9% of women and 42.3% of men had ever had anal sex in the United States. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016)4
  • Ages of U.S. men and women reporting anal sex with an opposite-sex partner, 2016:
  • Women
    • 18-24 years old: 28.4%
    • 25-34 years old: 38.5%
    • 35-44 years old: 39.0%
    • 25-44 years old: 38.5%
  • Men
    • 18-24 years old: 29.3%
    • 25-34 years old: 49.3%
    • 35-44 years old: 44.8%
    • 25-44 years old: 47.0%
      (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016)4

That’s a pretty significant portion of the population who’ve had anal sex!


Do Women Really Enjoy Anal Sex?

While many report having anal at least once, do they actually enjoy it?

  • 31% of women described anal intercourse as enjoyable in one study. (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2015)5
  • 63.3% (almost two-thirds) of women liked receiving anal sex in another study. (Bad Girls Bible, 2021)6
  • 81.7% of women found their first experience receiving anal sex to be painful. 
    • Pain can result from having anal sphincter muscles stretch too quickly before they can relax or being stretched too far. 
    • The remaining 18.3% reported their first time having anal sex was not painful.
      (Bad Girls Bible, 2021)6
  • 59.0% of women found the first-time anal sex experience not pleasurable.
    • 41.0% of women found it to be pleasurable. (Bad Girls Bible, 2021)6

Reasons Why Women Want and Enjoy Anal Sex

Here’s what studies have shown about why women have anal:

  • Most women have anal in an attempt to seek pleasure both physically and emotionally. (Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2009)3
  • Many women said they sought out anal in a desire for intimacy or closeness with their partners. 
  • Some women tried anal out of curiosity or because they saw anal intercourse as a way of bringing variety or “spice” into their sexual relationships. (Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2009)3
  • Women’s reasons for engaging in anal intercourse with men:

Important note: There were just 32 participants in this study, and they all had a past history of illicit drug use, hence some of the high percentages in “quid pro quo” situations. 

Desire to avoid vaginal sex (on period, discharge, etc.)

  • The majority of participants said that they did not engage in anal intercourse as a form of birth control.
  • 9% of women participants said that they had engaged in anal intercourse to avoid vaginal sex when they were on their period.

To please her partner

  • 28% of participants said that engaging in anal intercourse was to please a male partner.
  • In other cases, the women offered to have anal sex in an attempt to please their partner.

Women’s own desire for anal sex

  • 49% of participants said they engaged in anal intercourse because they desired it.
  • Many women engaged in anal intercourse because they personally enjoy it. 
  • In other cases, women enjoyed anal intercourse only in specific circumstances, such as with people they know and trust very well. 
  • Some enjoyed having anal sex only in certain positions or when certain conditions were met.

Money or drugs exchanged for anal sex

  • 37.5% of participants engaged in anal intercourse in exchange situations.
  • Some of the women agreed to have anal intercourse in exchange for money. 
  • Others agreed to have anal intercourse in exchange for drugs.

Under the influence of drugs or alcohol

  • 62.5% of women participants had anal sex because they were high, which was the most frequently reported reason offered.
  • In some cases, they were more interested in anal intercourse when they were high, suggesting that substance use increased their own sexual desire. 
  • In other cases, drugs made women do something they would not ordinarily do. They were only willing to engage in anal when they were high enough to overcome their inhibitions and personal boundaries.
  • Others said that having anal intercourse without using substances would be too painful. They are only willing to have anal intercourse when they are high.

No consent or coercion and she did not know she could refuse.

  • 53% of participants said they did not want anal intercourse to occur but did not feel they had the right to say no. 
  • 22% of participants described situations where the anal intercourse occurred without the woman’s explicit consent.

    (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2015)5

  • Women’s Positive Experiences with Anal Sex:
    Here are some of the positive experiences women listed about anal sex:
    • Positive Physical Experiences
      • “Liked the sensation”
      • “No Side Effects”
    • Positive Emotional Experiences
      • “More Intimate than Vaginal Sex”
      • “Natural”
      • “Only for Special Partner”
        (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2015)5
  • Specific contexts or circumstances are typically required for the women to enjoy the experience. 
    • 22% of women participants emphasized the importance of male experience with the use of lubricants for enjoyment. (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2015)5
  • 28% of participants said that substance use played in their experience of pleasure in anal intercourse (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2015)5
  • 22% of participants emphasized the importance of being stimulated in the correct way or staying relaxed, which helped create a more pleasurable experience. (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2015)5
  • 15.8% of women enjoyed the pain of their last anal sex experience.
    • Most women said the most common cause of unenjoyable sex is pain. (Bad Girls Bible, 2021)6
  • Of that 15.8% of women, here’s what made their anal sex experience enjoyable:
    • “It felt pleasurable”: 70% of women
    • “I was attracted to my partner”: 57.8% of women
    • “Partner respected me and communicated with me to make sure I enjoyed it”: 57.4% of women
    • “It pleased my partner, and that pleases me”: 53.9% of women
    • “Used enough lube”: 42.5% of women
    • “Position made it enjoyable”: 41.4% of women.
      (Bad Girls Bible, 2021)6

Orgasms and Squirting in Anal Sex

Is there such a thing as an “anal orgasm”? How does it work? Here’s what these studies and articles have shown:

  • How anal orgasms work for cisgender women:
    •  Anal penetration indirectly stimulates the “A-spot” in the vagina. 
    • The “A-spot” is the anterior fornix, located deep inside the vagina… It’s an area filled with nerve endings.
      (Healthline, 2019a)7
  • 51.9% of women had an orgasm during anal sex.
    • 48.1% did not have an orgasm during anal sex.
      (Bad Girls Bible, 2021)6
  • Only 39% of women orgasmed during their last attempt at anal sex, and 61% did not. (Bad Girls Bible, 2021)6
  • 16.9% of women have squirted during anal sex.
    • 83.1% haven’t squirted during anal intercourse.
      (Bad Girls Bible, 2021)6
  • 12.3% of women reported that they squirted during their last anal intercourse. (Bad Girls Bible, 2021)6
  • Anxious attachment is associated with less vaginal orgasm consistency, but with a higher frequency of vibrator and anal sex orgasms. (The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2015)8

Why Other Women Dislike Anal Sex

While some enjoy anal, many do not. Here’s why:

  • 77.6% (over three-quarters) of women have had at least one bad anal sex experience. (Bad Girls Bible, 2021)6
  • Other than coercion and violence, many women report pain and discomfort during anal sex, including emotional distress.
    •  Some also have mild intestinal discomfort (e.g., disrupted bowel movements) afterward.(Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2009)3
  • Some common reasons for unenjoyable anal sex:
    • “It was painful”: 66.7%
    • “Started too fast/Not enough time to relax”: 43.5%
    • “Not enough lubricant/No lubricant”: 41.2%
    • “No orgasm”: 22.6%
    • “It was forced”: 20.5%
    • “Big penis issues”: 16.6%
    • “Small penis issues“: 1.8%
    • Other reasons include:
      “Other” includes some of the respondent’s detailed responses:
      • “My partner did not respect me or communicate with me to make sure I enjoyed it.”
      • “I didn’t enjoy the position.”
      • “I find it gross/dirty.”
      • “Other”
        • “I was not prepared for ‘poop dick’ and it was embarrassing.”
        • “He did anal then vagina[l], which gave me an infection after.”
      • “Duration of anal sex”
      • “I wasn’t attracted to partner.”
      • “Their penis was too small.”
        (Bad Girls Bible, 2021)6
  • Negative experiences with anal sex:
    Here are some of the negative experiences women listed about anal sex:
    • Negative Physical Experiences”
      • “Not preferred”
      • “Disliked sensation”
      • “Unwelcome side effects”
    • Negative Emotional Experiences:
      • “Shame”
      • “Disgust”
      • “Offended”
        (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2015)5
  • 47% of women participants focused on the emotional and physical discomfort associated with anal intercourse.
    •  For many of these women, the experience was physically uncomfortable or painful. 
    • Others focused on the unwanted side effects. Some felt emotionally humiliated by the experience.
      (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2015)5
  • 15.6% of women participants described male partners who were so focused on their own pleasure that they failed to consider the women’s experiences. (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2015)5

Men’s Urge to Have Anal Sex

In many cases, the man encourages women to have anal sex. Here’s why:

  • There are higher percentages of men (42.3%) than women (35.9%). (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016)4
  • Most women say that their male partners took the initiative when it came to anal intercourse. 
    • 82% of women reported that their male partners had initiated their first occasion of anal intercourse.
    •  Only 11% of women had taken the initiative themselves.
      (Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2009)3
  • 68% of women reported that their male partners initiated anal in the most recent time they experienced it. (Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2009)3
  • 25% of women said they had been forced into having anal intercourse at least once. (Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2009)3

Is Anal Sex Trying to Replace Vaginal Sex?

Most people studied say they still prefer vaginal sex over anal, even in those who participated in it regularly: 

  • Vaginal intercourse is far more prevalent than anal sex among men and women. 
    • Only 35.9% of women and 42.3% of men have ever had anal sex, compared to 94.2% of women and 92.0% of men who have had vaginal intercourse.
      (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016)4
  • In one study – when asked whether they preferred anal intercourse or vaginal intercourse, nearly every woman expressed a preference for vaginal sex.
    • This suggests that most of the women in these focus groups found vaginal intercourse more enjoyable than anal intercourse.
      (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2015)5
  • Of all women who like anal sex, 51.5% of them still prefer vaginal sex over anal sex.
    • 44.4% of them find both anal and vaginal sex equally enjoyable.
    • Only 4.1% prefer anal sex over vaginal sex.
      (Bad Girls Bible, 2021)6

Best and Worst Anal Sex Positions

Some sex positions are better than others for anal, here’s what they are:

  • Women’s most liked and disliked anal sex positions:
    • Most liked anal sex positions:
      • Doggy style: 42.9%
      • Lying down on my stomach: 14.0%
      • Other: 12.1%
      • Lying on my side: 12.0%
      • Lying on my back: 8.8%
      • Cowgirl: 5.3%
      • Standing with my partner behind me: 4.9%
    • Most disliked anal sex positions:
      • Cowgirl: 21.4%
      • Lying on my back: 20.2%
      • Standing with my partner behind me: 15.5%
      • Doggy Style: 13.0%
      • Other: 12.2%
      • Lying on my stomach: 9.4%
      • Lying on my side: 8.3%
        (Bad Girls Bible, 2021)6
  • “The most common position in anal sex is for the woman to be bent over, with the man on top or over her, looking at her back. For men, a sense of power and domination comes with that.” According to sex therapist Mike Lousada. (Glamour, 2016)9

Women’s Preferred Duration of Anal Sex

The preferred duration of anal sex seems to be about the same as vaginal sex:

do women like anal
  • The ideal length for an anal sex session for women is 13 minutes and 35 seconds (on average) for all women surveyed.
    • The median time of those women’s responses is 10 minutes. (Bad Girls Bible, 2021)6
  • For women who like anal sex, the average preferred duration is longer, at 17 minutes and 52 seconds.
    • The median time is 15 minutes. (Bad Girls Bible, 2021)6
  • For women who dislike anal sex, the average preferred duration is 6 minutes, 12 seconds.
    • The median time is 4 minutes. (Bad Girls Bible, 2021)6

Health Risks of Anal sex

Anal sex can be risky, according to these experts. Instances of STIs and other health risks are far more common with anal sex than vaginal:

  • Most people severely underestimate the health risks of anal sex. (AIDS patient care and STDs, 2000)10
  • “A woman has a 17-times-greater risk of getting HIV and AIDS from receiving anal intercourse than from having vaginal intercourse. So your partner needs to be wearing a condom and using lots of lube, unless both of you are true-blue monogamous, with no sexual diseases. Any sexually transmitted infection can be transmitted and received in the anus. Because of the amount of trauma the anus and rectum receive during anal intercourse, the likelihood of getting a sexually transmitted infection is higher than with vaginal intercourse.”
    – Paul Joannides, Psy.D., psychoanalyst and author (Goop, 2017)11
  • 82% of women indicated that they had not used condoms during the first occasion of anal sex.
    • The same proportion reported no condom use during the last occasion of anal. (Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2009)3
  • STD prevention was not the primary motivation for condom use during anal sex. 
    • When asked about condom use, only 25% spontaneously mentioned prevention of HIV or other STDs as a concern.
    • None of those surveyed consistently relied upon condoms for disease prevention during anal.
      (Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2009)3
  • Those who had used a condom during anal intercourse listed the following reasons for using one:
    • A concern regarding hygiene.
    • The incorrect belief that they could get pregnant through anal sex.
    • The condom from vaginal sex was kept on during anal sex.
      (Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2009)3
  • Inconsistency in using condoms during anal or vaginal intercourse:
    • On 8 occasions, women said they had used a condom for vaginal intercourse to prevent pregnancy but had removed the condom before anal intercourse.
    • On 4 occasions, women reported having used condoms for anal intercourse but not for vaginal intercourse.
    • Of those who reported using a condom during anal, 3 women had used the same condom for vaginal and anal intercourse;
    • On another 3 occasions, women had used different condoms for vaginal and anal intercourse.
      (Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2009)3
  • Participant’s reasons for not using a condom during anal sex:
    • The woman was very familiar with her partner.
    • Anal sex was unanticipated or nonconsensual.
    • Partner preferred not to use a condom.
    • Condoms made anal sex for women more uncomfortable or painful and made anal sex less pleasurable or more inconvenient.
      (Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2009)3
  • STD diagnoses are 2.6 times more likely in those who have unprotected anal sex as those who have unprotected vaginal sex.
    • They are 4.2 times more likely than those who have protected sex. (American Journal of Public Health, 2011)12
  • ‘Saliva use as a lubricant for anal sex’ is a common sexual practice in MSM (men who have sex with men) and may play an important role in gonorrhea transmission.
    • 68.5% of MSM use their partner’s saliva as a lubricant for anal sex, and of those MSM, 5.2% of them are rectal gonorrhea positive. (Sexually Transmitted Infections, 2016)13

The Dangers of Lube in Anal Sex

The use of lube during anal sex can actually increase the likelihood of STI transmission, according to these studies:

  •  36% say they use lube consistently during anal sex (137/380).
    • 64% are inconsistent users of lube in anal intercourse. 
    • 64% of those American participants reported using “commercial lubricant” during the last anal intercourse.
      (Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2012)14
  • STIs were reported in 5.3% of those using rectal lubricant in the past month (6.2% of males and 3.9% of females). (Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2012)14
  • Some lubricant products may increase vulnerability to STIs.
    • This is due to the wide use of lubricants and their potential as carrier vehicles for microbicides. 
    • Consistent users had higher rates of STIs than inconsistent users. (9.5% for consistent lubricant users; 2.9% for inconsistent users).
      (Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2012)14
  • Types of lubricants used for anal sex:
    • Types of lubricants
      • 20.9%: Silicone-based (e.g., Eros® brand)
      • 61.3% Water-based (e.g., brands like KY®, Wet®)
      • 15.1%: Oil-based (e.g., Crisco®)
    • Number of types of lubricants used
      • 19.5% reported 0 types of lubricant
      • 63.9% reported only 1 type of lubricant
      • 10.7% reported 2 types of lubricant
      • 5.9% reported 3 types of lubricant
        (Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2012)14
  • A higher number of different types of lubricants was associated with higher instances of rectal gonorrhea (GC – Neisseria gonorrhoeae) or Chlamydia (CT – Chlamydia trachomatis) infections. (Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2012)14
  • Those with STIs used more types of lubricants than those who did not have rectal GC or CT. (Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2012)14
  • Men used significantly more types of lubricants than women in the past month. (Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2012)14

Other Types of Anal Play That Women Enjoy

Anal sex and enjoyment don’t just have to come from penetrative sex. There are lots of different ways you can incorporate anal play:

  • Anal play is often associated with youth, which may suggest that anal sex is on the rise.
    • Youthful sexual activities tend to remain through adulthood, so over time, as young people grow older, we can expect many to continue engaging in anal play. (Psychology Today, 2010)15
  • Anal play includes penis-anus intercourse, anal sphincter massage, fingering, oral-anal contact (analingus), and anal insertion of objects. (Psychology Today, 2010)15
  • 57.4% of women who’ve had anal sex also like being anally fingered.
    • This makes it the most popular anal sex activity after penile-anal sex. (Bad Girls Bible, 2021)6
  • 38% of women say they enjoy using anal sex toys – the second most popular anal sex activity. (Bad Girls Bible, 2021)6
  • This is followed by receiving anilingus, with 37.7% of women who’ve had anal sex enjoying this. (Bad Girls Bible, 2021)6
  • Rimming, also known as analingus, is the act of orally pleasuring the anus. 
    • This can involve licking, sucking, kissing, and any other pleasurable act that involves oral-to-anal contact. (Healthline, 2019b)16
  • 26.9% of women who’ve experienced anal sex do not enjoy any of these anal sex activities. (Bad Girls Bible, 2021)6

Conclusion

In short, many women do, in fact, enjoy anal sex when they’ve had it, but it can be an unpleasant and painful experience for many – especially with inexperienced partners. Anal sex is often also risky, with inconsistent use of condoms and a significantly higher likelihood of spreading STIs.

Footnotes

  1. WebMD, 2020. An article on anal sex.
  2. Journal of Sex Research, 2010. A study on Heterosexual Anal Sexuality and Anal Sex Behaviors.
  3. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2009. A study of 28 American women.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016. The National Health Statistics Reports of 9,175 American adults aged 18-44.
  5. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2015. A study of 32 American women.
  6. Bad Girls Bible, 2021. A survey of 1,260 women participants.
  7. Healthline, 2019a. An article on how to have an anal orgasm.
  8. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2015. A study on 7 Scotting sexually experienced women.
  9. Glamour, 2016. An article on how men are obsessed with anal.
  10. AIDS patient care and STDs, 2000. A study on prevalence, cultural factors, and health risks of heterosexual anal intercourse.
  11. Goop, 2017. An article on anal sex questions answered by an expert.
  12. American Journal of Public Health, 2011. A study of 436 American women.
  13. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 2016. A study of 1,312 Australian MSM.
  14. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2012. A study of 380 American participants.
  15. Psychology Today, 2010. An article on heterosexual anal play.
  16. Healthline, 2019b. An article on rimming, also known as analingus.
Dainis Graveris

Dainis Graveris

Over last 4 years Dainis have helped millions of people through his advice on this site (200+ guides and 1M+ visits/monthly). His work & advice has appeared on sites like: Healthline, Vice, Cosmopolitan, Men's Health, WomensHealthMag, MindBodyGreen & more. Read More

Got Questions? Ping me on Twitter.