Is It Safe To Have Anal Sex Without Lube?

No – anal sex without lubrication is generally not safe, doesn’t feel good, and could cause injuries in an area you definitely don’t want them.
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Updated:September 2022

It is not safe — nor is it wise — to have anal sex without lubrication if the goal is to have a positive, enjoyable experience.

Here’s why:

  • Without adequate lubrication, the person being penetrated is practically guaranteed to have a painful anal sex experience.
  • The lack of lubrication can easily lead to anal injury, which could make STI transmission even more likely between partners.
  • If it’s their first time, the partner on the receiving end will likely never want to try anal sex again — with anyone.


If the idea is to have good anal sex that feels amazing and makes you want to do it again, don’t ever skip the lube.

In fact, use more than you think you should.

The right kind and amount of lubricant is the key to great anal sex.

Things To Know
In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about the importance of using lube during anal sex, including:
Why Lube Is Important During Anal Sex

Why Lube Is Important During Anal Sex

Close Up Photograph Of Clear Water-Based Lubricant Being Poured Into Open Hand From Above

A personal lubricant might be seen as something “optional” for other kinds of sex but when it comes to anal, lube reduces friction — which helps to prevent injury while minimizing discomfort and making penetration easier.

Here’s everything you need to know about using lube during anal:

  • The number one reason to use lube during anal is to make it as pain-free and pleasurable as possible for the person on the receiving end
  • The anus doesn’t self-lubricate the way (most) vaginas do
  • Anal without lubricant can lead to small tears in the rectal lining of your anus among other injuries
  • Those tears make it easier for bacteria from feces and other sources to cause infections later
  • Tears can also make STI transmission even easier, especially if your anal sex doesn’t involve condoms

Anal sex is often seen as taboo or kinky because you’re using an exit as an entrance for sexual pleasure.

It’s also an activity that not everyone does, so it makes sense that it’s not exactly “obvious” how to do it at first.

No matter how excited you are to try it, if you’re the bottom in anal (meaning you’re on the receiving end), you’ve probably also heard how much it’s going to hurt.

But it doesn’t have to — thanks to lube.

Personal lubricant reduces friction between a penis (or dildo) and a booty.

By using enough anal lube — and moving slowly during anal penetration — you can avoid pain and possible injury during anal sex.

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What Can Happen Without Lube

What Can Happen If You Have Anal Sex Without Lube?

The most common thing that is likely to happen if you have anal sex without lubricant is serious pain during penetration.

It might be so painful that you (or your partner) may not want to try it again in the future.

The second most common thing, which can lead to other (and bigger) problems, is an injury to the anus — specifically micro tears.

Some bleeding may even occur, which may not be too serious but can be stressful to deal with.

In some cases, however, serious injury can occur to the anus — which may lead to hospitalization.

Never wanting to do anal again may be the most likely outcome when having “no lube anal” — which is bad enough on its own.

But a severe injury to your (or your partner’s) anus, while not common, is still possible.

Dr. Susan Milstein, a human sexuality health educator on our medical review board said that even if an injury isn’t severe, “you still want sex to be pleasurable for both you and your partner, and lube is one of the ways to make that happen. Especially for anal.”

It simply isn’t worth the risk when it’s so easy to just use an anal lubricant before penetration begins.

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Is It EVER Safe To Have Anal With No Lube
  • Is It EVER Safe To Have Anal Sex Without Lube?

Not really.

You might be asking, “What about lubricated condoms?”

Condoms are a great idea for anal sex, especially now that the FDA has approved at least one that’s safe for reducing STI transmission during anal sex.

But the amount of lube used on condoms is not designed to last much longer than initial penetration — and that’s mainly for vaginal penetration.

Anal sex usually requires a lot more lube.

Lubricated condoms are a great step in the right direction, but you’re still going to need to add more lube as you go.

And when you do, make sure your lubricant is 100% compatible with the type of condom you’re using.

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Anal Lube Options

Anal Lube Options: How To Choose A Lubricant

Sideview Photograph Of Woman's Buttocks And Hip With One Hand Holding Half A Coconut And The Other Hand Dripping Coconut Milk From One Finger

Now that you’re convinced about needing lube for anal sex, you might not be sure which lubricant to reach for.

We’ve got you covered.

You can start with our top picks of the safest and best lubes for anal.

Beyond our top recommendations, there are plenty of personal lubricant options available for anal sex, including:

Here’s a cheat sheet for selecting the best lube based on how you intend to use it:

Lube Type:
Water-Based
Silicone-Based
Oil-Based
Oral Sex Yes Yes Not usually
Vaginal Sex ONLY if pH/Osmolality suitable Yes Yes
Anal Sex ONLY if pH/Osmolality suitable Yes Yes
Condom Types All All Polyurethane, nitrile and lambskin only
Sex Toy Types All All but silicone All but latex
Bath/Shower Use No Yes Yes
Does It Stain? No Yes Yes
Lube Type:
Oral Sex
Vaginal Sex
Anal Sex
Condom Types
Sex Toy Types
Bath/Shower Use
Does It Stain?

For every situation and personal preference, there’s a personal lubricant, so if you’re not sure which is right for you, read through our in-depth lube guide or take our helpful lube quiz to find your perfect match.

Dr. Susan Milstein, the medical review team member we spoke with earlier, explained:

“Deciding to use lube for anal sex is important, but make sure it’s one that’s safe for anal sex. Having the wrong lube, like a water-based one for anal, defeats the purpose of using it in the first place.”

Let’s take a look at the four main lube categories below.

  • Water-Based Lubricants (Not Recommended For Anal Sex)

Water-based lube is water-soluble — making it easy to clean up — and it tends to have a texture that’s similar to your body’s natural lubrication.

Additionally, water-based lube is safe to use with any type of condom, dental dam, or diaphragm.

That’s where their benefits stop, however, when it comes to anal sex.

Water-based lubes are often too thin to provide comfortable anal penetration, but more importantly, they rarely have an anal-safe pH or osmolality level — which can lead to irritation or infection.

In fact, we cannot recommend a single water-based anal lubricant for this reason and highly suggest you choose a different lubricant base altogether.

  • Silicone-Based Lubricants

Silicone-based lubes last much longer than water-based options and are just as safe for condoms of all types.

Since we’re discussing anal sex, silicone may be a better and safer option than water-based lube.

Silicone personal lubricants tend to have a thicker consistency and silky-smooth texture that is noticeably different from your body’s natural lubrication.

Their heavier, cushiony texture makes them a particularly good choice for anal sex; in fact, most of our anal lube recommendations are silicone-based.

Silicone lube won’t wash away in the shower, which is great. But they can’t be used with silicone sex toys because they may damage the material.

Our review of the best silicone-based personal lubes explores all of our hand-picked recommendations of the safest products available right now.

  • Oil-Based Lubricants

An oil-based lubricant is one that is made from natural (and sometimes organic) oils that are body-safe for anal sex.

Oil-based lubes are thicker than other lubricants, last longer, and don’t need to be re-applied as often as others.

But they’re not right for everyone.

Some products may include nut-based oil ingredients, which is cause for concern for those who have allergies.

Additionally, oil-based personal lubricants cannot be used with latex or polyisoprene condoms, which is problematic if you rely on these during anal sex.

If you’re interested in learning more about them, we’ve found the best oil-based personal lubricants.

  • Natural And Organic Lubricants

Natural and organic personal lubricants may be water-based or oil-based, depending on the formulation, although when it comes to anal sex, it’s best to stick with oils.

Natural and organic products made using nut-based oils should be avoided if you or your partners are allergic to those ingredients.

Through our independent research, we found the best and safest natural and organic lubricants that are available right now.

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Anal Lube Alternatives

Are There Any Safe Home Anal Lube Alternatives?

If you’re in a bind and you need a safe anal lube alternative that can be found in your home right now, there are some decent options available:

Although these anal lube alternatives are generally considered to be safe, remember that oil-based lube alternatives should never be used with condoms made from latex or polyisoprene, as they’ll degrade their materials, increasing the risk of STI transmission.

Additionally, before using any of them as anal lube, it’s smart to do a patch test by applying a little bit of the substance to your inner elbow to watch for any sign of allergic reaction.

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Conclusion

In Conclusion

Anal without lubrication doesn’t feel good, leads to painful anal penetration, and could cause injuries in an area you definitely don’t want them.

Dr. Milstein, the human sexuality health educator from our medical review board, offered this advice:

“One last thing to keep in mind, lubes that are good for anal sex may not be good if you plan on also having vaginal sex. Make sure to have different lubes on hand for wherever your sex play might take you.”

It’s so easy to find a high-quality and safe personal lubricant for anal sex — and plenty of reasons to make sure you do.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of our Everything Lube hub, an in-depth and evolving resource that comprehensively explores all aspects of personal lubricants from the different types and how to use them, to ingredients and safety — created to help you achieve the sexual pleasure you deserve.

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