By Thomas Whitfield

Butt play, it’s just for gays anymore! Research shows anal sex is becoming more common among heterosexuals, men and women—or at least now they’re admitting it. Contrary to stereotypes, anal sex among gay and bisexual men is less common than other forms of sex. I mean, come on, it can be a real pain in the ass.

I really enjoy bottoming, but it’s also a lot of work. I feel like I always have to be ready. I’m constantly watching what I eat, watching when I eat it and trying to plan ahead. A few weeks ago, I even had to go to the doctor because of pain, and he told me that I have small tears inside, probably from douching too much. Is this how everyone who bottoms is? Am I taking it too far? – Male, Gay, 22

You’re not alone in attempting to plan ahead for sex, but it is definitely an issue when there are health consequences. Mentally, you’re stressing yourself out by worrying and not allowing yourself to enjoy other things (e.g., good food). You have to be careful with the douching! If you’re going to do it, ONLY use water. If you buy those pre-filled things from the pharmacy, dump out the solution. Both can actually cause dryness and lead to small tears (as you’ve experienced). Those tears can also increase the risk for STIs and HIV. You’re overdoing it. Honestly, it’s anal sex: Shit happens. If it’s not extreme and the top loses his mind because of it, you probably shouldn’t be letting him inside you anyways.

So… random health question. I have a lot of anal sex, but lately it’s been hurting, almost like a burning sensation. I thought that maybe I had an STD, but I went and got tested: all negative. I just went to like one of those free clinics in the city. Anyways, it’s also starting to burn a bit when I shower. I’m nervous to go to a doctor and hoping it just goes away on its own. Is this normal? – Male, Gay, 19

Based on the information you’ve provided, there could be a few things, and you likely need to go to a doctor to find out which. You may have an anal fissure, which is a small tear that appears around the rectal opening (there can be a few different causes) and can be difficult to heal on their own. You could also have HPV or herpes, which wouldn’t have shown up with a standard STI test. Herpes requires a blood test, unless you’re having an outbreak, which you may be. HPV is generally diagnosed visually. This might sound scary, but none of it is a big deal if you get treated early. Go to Callen Lorde (LGBTQ health center in Chelsea) and have a doctor look at it. It’s not nearly as uncomfortable as you may think, and they do this stuff all day. Unless your butt is doing magic tricks or telling ghost stories, they’ve probably already seen it!

Sex/Love/Relationship advice? Send your questions to: Instagram: @ThomasWhitfield84