My boyfriend really wants me to rim him, but I’ve never done it before. He likes rimming me and I love the feeling around and in my arse but I’m worried about rimming him, especially with bits of poo and stuff like that. Can you tell me whether it’s safe and how best to do it?
Hi Ben, and thank you for this question. Rimming, or ‘anilingus’ to use the formal term, means stimulating someone’s anus with your mouth by kissing or licking the outside or by putting your tongue in their arsehole (deep rimming).
As you know rimming can be very pleasurable but, like most types of sex, there are some risks too. The main risk is infection, either the classic sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or gut infections (like Giardia, Salmonella and Shigella) which will be present in the poo of someone who carries the infection so can be passed on if your mouth goes near their bum.
Gut infections can also be spread in non-sexual ways through contaminated food or water, particularly if you travel. There was a big spike in Shigella cases in gay men in the UK in 2014/5. The Terrence Higgins Trust have some helpful information on their website that’s worth a read: tht.org.uk/hiv-and-sexual-health/sexual-health/stis/shigella. Hepatitis A is another infection that can be passed on sexually or through contaminated food or water; it’s recommended that all gay men are vaccinated against hepatitis A and B, so speak to your local sexual health clinic or your GP.
Back to the STIs, the first thing to say is that there are no reports of HIV being passed on through rimming (actually, thanks to U=U, no type of sex has been associated with transmission from an HIV-positive person with an undetectable viral load!). Chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis can all be present in the mouth or the bum so can be passed on through rimming, as can herpes. If one person has sores on their mouth or bum and the other is not immune to herpes, it could be passed on. The risk of getting an STI from rimming is not very clear but is probably less than anal sex (penis in bum) or oral sex (penis in mouth).
So what can you do to reduce risk? Firstly looking after your mouth. There’s not good evidence to support this but good oral hygiene makes sense, mouth ulcers and bleeding gums may increase the risk. Secondly making sure the bum of the person on the receiving end of the rimming is clean makes sense too – washing the area around the anus with soap and water should do the trick. If your partner has been ill with symptoms like stomach cramps, vomiting or diarrhoea then it’s best avoid rimming for up to 2 weeks afterwards.
You can use a ‘dental dam’ which is a square of latex that you put over someone’s bum to reduce the risk of infection. You need to hold the dam in place and to increase the pleasure you can put lube on the side touching your partner (make sure it’s latex friendly lube). You can carefully cut the ends of a condom to make your own dam if you like!
Finally your partner can douche – using water to flush out your bum hole. Most sex shops sell douching kits, you can also buy shower attachments for the job but this can be risky if you can’t control the water pressure and temperature The other option is a squeezy water bottle but be careful just to put the nozzle against your bum, not in it, otherwise you might cause tears to the skin. Douching can irritate the skin lining the anus and rectum, which might increase your risk of getting infections. There’s lots of douching advice online. I’ve read a lot and think this is one of the clearest ones: thebiggayreview.com/anal-douche-guide. So, rimming is not 100% safe but following the tips above will help reduce risk.
Do the things that you enjoy the feeling of when your partner rims you, ask him what feels good, don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with and have fun. At the end of the day, sex should be fun!
A number of World AIDS Day events will be held as part of #AIDSMemoryUK, the campaign to establish a national tribute to HIV and AIDS in the UK. On Friday 30th November there will be a discussion at RSA House on ‘HIV Past, Present and Potential – Tackling the Stigma’, on World AIDS Day itself (1st December) there will be an event at the BFI from 1.30pm featuring rarely seen archive film extracts and discussion with Ash Kotak, Dr Hannah J. Elizabeth and DJ Jeffrey Hinton. Later there will be a vigil marking the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day outside the British Council at 10 Spring Gardens, St James SW1. The vigil’s 2018 theme is ‘Remembering women affected by HIV’. More details from the AIDS Memory UK Campaign Facebook page.