A Beginner’s Guide to Bottoming During Sex

Tips on douching, diet, practicing alone, and doing it with your partner.

My first time bottoming was a nightmare come to life. I was in pain the entire time, not to mention super self-conscious about my partner being all up in my rear end.

If you’re not familiar with the term, „bottoming“ refers to being on the receiving end of anal sex, meaning the „bottom“ is the partner putting the penis (or dildo) inside of them. (The person sticking said penis or dildo inside the bottom is referred to as the „top.“)

After my negative sexual experience, I couldn’t for the life of me understand what was pleasurable about bottoming. How do so many men—gay, bi, and straight—derive pleasure from having a penis (or dildo) inside of them? After my first unpleasant experience, I didn’t bottom for quite some time. Eventually, I had a girlfriend who got me into it. She really wanted to peg me, so I told her I’d give bottoming another try. She loved anal (on herself, too) and taught me what I had been doing wrong. After a few experimental sessions, I finally got what bottoming was all about. It felt heavenly. My orgasms were so much stronger with something in my butt than without.

I had no idea how to bottom, which makes sense. Bottoming isn’t an innate skill; it’s something you learn. Alas, there are not that many resources for men who want to learn how to bottom, but have no idea where to begin. That’s why we spoke to Dr. Evan Goldstein for tips on how to bottom.

Fetishes you should know.

Two years ago this month, I was sitting on the sofa in my Sir’s living room. It was my birthday. We were getting ready to go to the gym. But first, he said, I should open my presents. Two packages were in front of me on the coffee table.

[RELATED: „30 Kinky Terms Every Gay Man Needs to Know“]

Our relationship had started more than a year earlier with intense monthly BDSM play sessions. After we stopped playing sexually, we continued to go to the gym together and push each other to live healthier. We still go to the gym together, and today I consider him one of my closest friends. He knows what I like — sexually and otherwise — more than most people in my life, so his presents are always top-notch.

Inside the first package was a bottle of twelve-year Glenlivet, one of my favorite single malt whiskies. The second: a Nasty Pig jockstrap. But it was not just any Nasty Pig jock. I sniffed. That distinctly musky, delicious aroma, which can only be found in the playrooms of gay circuit parties and in gyms across the country, lingered in the stitching. “I wore it for a few days,” he said. “You’re welcome.”

You may be asking: What is a fetish, and how is it different from a kink? I clarified these two terms in my list of 30 kinky terms every gay man should know. But I’ll reiterate their distinction here. Kinks are “unconventional” sexual interests, like bondage or paddling. That’s it. Fetishes — also called paraphilias — are objects, materials, features, or articles of clothing, like used jockstraps, that people respond to sexually, and that enhance or facilitate sexual arousal. To clarify: fetish objects are not sexual on their own, like whips or dildos. Fetish objects become sexualized when someone responds to them sexually.

You’ve probably heard of a few obscure fetishes, like high-heeled shoes and rubber duckies. Fetishes are rapidly moving out of their kinky niche and into pop culture. Stay on top of (or under) the trend with this list of 36 fetishes — some well known, others less so — that you need to know about. 

Fetishes you should know.

1. Leather

Leather is one of the most commonly fetishized materials, and certainly one of the oldest. Tom of Finland’s 1970s drawings of biker boys, clad in impossibly form-fitting leather, solidified leather as a staple of gay culture. Today, the leather community is global, united by national and international leather competitions that celebrate this fetish at gatherings like the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco, International Mr. Leather in Chicago, and Folsom Berlin.

What does a leather event look like? It looks like throngs of men in leather harnesses, jock straps, jackets, boots, gloves, aprons, fully-body uniforms, and other garb. Since many leather fetishists are into many other fetishes and kinks, the leather community is generally considered synonymous with the kink community as a whole. 

1. Leather

7. Uniforms

People who live in the United States are taught from a young age that uniforms should be viewed with respect, especially police uniforms, military uniforms, and firefighter uniforms. These socio-politics of respect naturally morphed into male strippers dressed as firefighters and cops — evidence that uniforms are heavily fetishized by straight and LGBT people alike. 

7. Uniforms

17. Amputees

No list of fetishes would be complete without amputees. My ex-boyfriend, in fact, thought guys with amputations, prosthetic legs, and other missing limbs were extremely sexy, and every morning I made sure all my limbs were still intact.

Alex Minksy has more or less made a career from this fetish. The ex-military amputee is a common muse for L.A. photographer Michael Stokes. For the sake of clarity, I should stress that the fetishization of amputees is not the same thing as the kink practice of actually removing limbs for the sake of sexual gratification, which is considered an extreme body-modification kink that is by and large not endorsed by the international kink community. Simply put: you can think amputees are sexy, but don’t go cutting off someone’s leg, or your own. That’s not OK. 

Photo source: Broadway Bares, photo by Kevin Thomas Garcia

17. Amputees

20. Enemas

Also called klismaphilia, enema fetishes are commonly explored in amateur gay and straight porn. As useful tools for cleaning out the anal cavity, enemas and douches are used by bottom guys and anyone looking to enjoy mess-free anal sex, so naturally they have become part of sex itself. Aside from their usefulness, enemas are generally considered a healthy occasional practice, and have become a sexualized object all on their own. 

28. Beard/Facial Hair Fetish

You know by now that shaving tools and buzzed haircuts have fetishes attached to them. Beards and body hair should be less surprising, especially these days. Beards are so sexually charged and erotically idealized among today’s scruffier populations of gay men that one might forget the fact that beards are still, technically, fetish objects. 

33. Feces

I promised my scat fetishist friend in Dallas that he would be represented on this list. Coprophilia is sexual stimulation from feces, and while the general population’s response to it is bound to be pretty strong, this fetish is more common than you might suspect, particularly among gay pig players, fisting enthusiasts, and kinky leather men. Despite its popularity within a more niche section of the gay male population, it is generally considered an unhygienic fetish to explore, since handling and consuming human fecal matter carries with it certain health risks. In my limited experience, it is also one of the more heavily stigmatized fetishes, even within the kink community. 

34. Sports Gear

Remember those adolescent longings for the high school quarterback? Perhaps you enjoyed varsity baseball for more reasons than you let on. The fetishes surrounding sports gear and sport environments are so common that locker room porn has become its own popular genre. Prominent gay clothing brands like Nasty Pig and Cellblock 13 draw their design inspiration from tried-and-true sports wear, and standard gay circuit attire will always feature a pair of football pants with the front lacing beckoningly open. 

36. Age

Also called chronophilia (and sometimes ageism), the fetishization of age is a hotly debated topic in gay culture. The term swings both ways: this fetish applies when someone older fetishizes the specific age of someone younger, and when someone younger fetishizes the specific age of someone older. The fetish doesn’t require a significant age difference — just the fact that someone’s age itself is a turn-on.

Conceptually, this fetish opens up debate surrounding the fetishization of other characteristics like skin color and body type. Some argue that fetishizing certain physical characteristics like age and weight is no different than feet and hand fetishes, which we generally do not frown upon. Others say that age fetishes, like skin color and body type fetishes, are not fetishes at all, and that the reduction of a person’s features into points of desire (and, by extension, rejection) is dehumanizing and smacks of racism and body-shaming.

Debate rages. Age fetish deserves inclusion on this list for the sheer purpose that it shows how fetishes can cross from the playfully erotic into more culturally profound and impactful subjects. The whole concept of fetish reveals that anything in the world, from pool floats to ice cream, can become sexual objects if someone responds to them that way, and as such they unleash our sexual desires from the narrow confines that our culture tends to place them in.

This being said, fetish exploration is not a free-for-all. There is a trepidatious line between fetishizing balloons and fetishizing blood. That vague line exists throughout the world of kink, which is why the motto “safe, sane, and consensual” should be strictly adhered to as you explore the things that turn you on — which, I must stress, are worth exploring. Your birthdays just got a lot more interesting. 

Photo by Charles Thomas Rogers from the portfolio, Men Over Fifty.

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Read Next

When it comes to having safe and pleasurable anal sex, it’s important to know all the facts. With that in mind, we asked Dr. Joseph Terlizzi, a New York-based colon and rectal surgeon, for the lowdown on how gay and bi men can prepare, how to do the deed, and how to stay safe post-coital. Check out his expert advice on how to make anal sex more pleasurable:

Post-Coital Cleaning

After anal sex, shower normally with a gentle soap. Clean the outside of the anus very gently — do not attempt to scrub. Do not use enemas, including soap suds or Fleets. Get tested for STIs every three months if you are having anal intercourse with more than one partner, and every six months if you are monogamous. You can easily find a gay-friendly or gay-identifying doctor through Lighthouse to avoid negative discrimination or stigma.

Why do men bottom?

Well, for one, cisgender gay men don’t have vulvas, so if they want to have penetrative sex, it’s really their only option. Two, it feels really good for the bottom. Roughly 2-3 inches inside the anus resides the prostate, a walnut-sized gland that’s a beacon of pleasure. “Once you tap into its benefits with appropriate stimulation, your orgasms will never be the same again,” says Goldstein.

How do you go about bottoming with a partner?

Bottom with someone you can really communicate with. „It’s about reaching a level of comfortability for you,“ says Boomer Banks, the renowned gay porn star. “Really try to connect with them beforehand.” Talk to your partner about their dos and don’ts, and share your is even more important if you’re new to bottoming.

With your partner, start slowly with fingers or a small toy, and use a lot of lube. Silicone-based lube can help with anal sex because it’s thicker. It’s safe to use with condoms along with water-based lubes. Oil-based lubes, on the other hand, can erode latex.

When you start to have penetrative sex, do it from a position where you control the thrusting. I often start in the cowgirl position, and tell them to not move. That way you control how far the penis or dildo goes inside of you. If you start in doggy style, your partner controls the thrusting, and they may accidentally go too quickly before you’re relaxed and ready.

Citations

Noor, S. W. & Rosser, B. R. S. Enema Use Among Men Who Have Sex with Men: A Behavioral Epidemiologic Study with Implications for HIV/STI Prevention. Archives of Sexual Behavior 43, 755–769 (2014).

Schmelzer, M., Schiller, L. R., Meyer, R., Rugari, S. M. & Case, P. Safety and effectiveness of large-volume enema solutions. Appl Nurs Res 17, 265–274 (2004).

Richel, O., De Vries, H. J. C., Dijkgraaf, M. G. W., Van Noesel, C. J. M. & Prins, J. M. Risk Factors for the Presence of Anal Intraepithelial Neoplasia in HIV+ Men Who Have Sex with Men. PLoS ONE 8, e84030 (2013).

Politch, J. A., Mayer, K. H. & Anderson, D. J. HIV-1 is undetectable in preejaculatory secretions from HIV-1-infected men on suppressive HAART: AIDS 30, 1899–1903 (2016).

Rodger, A. J. et al. Sexual Activity Without Condoms and Risk of HIV Transmission in Serodifferent Couples When the HIV-Positive Partner Is Using Suppressive Antiretroviral Therapy. JAMA 316, 171–181 (2016).

Podnar, S. Clinical elicitation of the penilo-cavernosus reflex in circumcised men. BJU Int. 109, 582–585 (2012).

Goldstone, S. E. The ins and outs of gay sex: a medical handbook for men. (Dell Pub, 1999).