What Is Rimming? – Rim Job FAQs on Safety, How It Feels, and More

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Anal play is all the rage at the moment. Everyone is talking about butt stuff—and no, we’re not just referring to anal sex. With people trying everything from anal toys to pegging, there are no limits in this game, friend.

For those curious about expanding their anal repertoire, might we suggest the rim job? Rimming—also known as analingus, tossing salad, ass eating, peach munching, eating the booty like groceries, etc.—is when you use your tongue and lips to stimulate your partner’s anus. The move “is referred to as ‘rimming’ because often, the rim or outer edges of the anus [are] the focus area[s],” says Dr. Kristie Overstreet, a psychotherapist and clinical sexologist. “This doesn’t mean that only the rim is stimulated.”

Rimming can involve penetration of the tongue into the anus, circling around it, or licking or kissing all the around the rest of the butt. “This region of your butt is a highly erogenous zone with a plethora of nerve endings,” explains Dr. Evan Golstein, founder and CEO of Bespoke Surgical and The Future Method. This is why rimming feels good, regardless of sexual orientation or gender. “The sensations are indescribable,” he says, “though most people compare it to having their most sensitive and ticklish areas kissed or licked.”

Although rimming has traditionally been thought of as a fringe sex act, it’s been on the rise recently, with shows like Girls and Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” bringing it into the mainstream. In fact, according to a 2008 study of American men, 24% said they had performed analingus on their partners, while 15% said that a partner had performed it on them. More recently, a 2012 Esquire poll of 500 men found that 12% secretly wished they were getting more anilingus. Alas, it’s tough to find more recent data. Most studies have focused on how common anal sex is, but not rimming, specifically.

Can you get an STI (sexually transmitted infection) from rimming?

It’s possible. Hepatitis A, herpes, HPV, syphilis, and gonorrhea can be transmitted through a rim job, Goldstein says. Hepatitis A is directly spread through feces, whereas syphilis, HPV (genital warts), and herpes are spread through skin-to-skin contact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While herpes is usually located in the mouth or genitals, you can also get it on your lower back and buttocks—known as sacral herpes. Oral gonorrhea can be spread by rimming, too.

There are a couple of things you can do to decrease the likelihood of STI transmission during rimming. First, keep an eye out for cuts or abrasions on the tongue, lips, gums, or rectum. These cuts can become entry points for infection and transmission, the CDC notes.

Second, there’s the option of using a dental dam, Goldstein says. Dental dams are thin, latex or polyurethane sheets used between the mouth and vagina or anus during oral sex. They’re not as easy to find at local corner stores as condoms, but you can pick them up from Planned Parenthood or purchase them online.

What about bacteria from feces (poop)?

“You can get bacterial infections like e.coli and salmonella from rimming,” Goldstein says. “Giardia, a microscopic parasite that is passed through feces, and other parasites can also be transmitted through rimming.”

Luckily, this is pretty easily preventable. The key is washing around your anus with soap and water. But make sure to use antibacterial soap! Also: “Avoid rimming if you or your partner has been sick or is experiencing symptoms of a possible stomach bug,” Goldstein says. That’s because “bad” bacteria usually comes from contaminated food, and most people experience diarrhea or stomach pain after ingestion. So if your partner’s stomach is upset, they’re more likely to transmit bad bacteria to you through rimming.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to douche or enema to prep for rimming. “Doing an enema is typically for play that goes a bit deeper,” says Alicia Sinclair, a clinical sexologist and CEO of the sex toy company b-Vibe. When you rim, you don’t penetrate the anus. You’re licking the external anus, for the most part. (Perhaps you can get a half-inch inside the anus with your tongue, but that’s really it.) So an enema is not necessary the way it is if you’re being penetrated with a penis or dildo.

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How should I prepare for my first time rimming?

Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: before you put your tongue or mouth on anyone’s butt, you have to ask for your partner’s consent. Make sure both you and your partner are down to give this a try. “Being able to trust your partner and talk about what does or does not feel good makes a big difference in the experience,” Overstreet says.

If you go down south without asking your partner if it’s OK beforehand, that won’t be fun for anyone. It could even be traumatizing for them. “Shock or discomfort also makes the anal muscles tense up, which means less pleasure for all parties involved,” Sinclair warns.

Once your partner has given you the OK (or you’ve given your partner the OK), you can simply incorporate it into your regular sex session. “If you are the receiver, you can ask your partner while they are giving you oral sex [or a hand job] to back up and stimulate the anal area,” suggests Overstreet.

Sinclair suggests stimulating your own anus to get used to the sensation beforehand. It’s important to figure out what might feel good for you. You can do this using your fingers or with a small butt toy. Be sure to use lots of lube.

How do I give someone a rim job?

You might be wondering: OK, so how do I actually lick this butt now that I’m down here? Start by trying to put your partner at ease, says Sinclair. “Massage around the bum a bit, slowly making your way in towards the anus with gentle movements,” she says. This will help them relax.

Sinclair says one of the best analingus techniques is to “swirl the tip of your tongue in a circle around the opening,” she says. “You can [also] flick the tip of your tongue up and down just over the opening.” Another tip? Try softening the tongue and licking up and down the entire anus, “sort as if you were eating an ice cream cone.”

Again, communicate with your partner about what feels good and what doesn’t, and always listen to your partner’s body. “When the receiver gets more aroused, or when you find a move that really works for them, you might notice that the anus relaxes and expands a little bit,” says Overstreet. This is a good sign. It means the body is responding positively to the pleasure.

If you’re receiving, offer feedback about what feels good to you. Overstreet says to breathe into your body, focus on the pleasure, and try to relax as much as possible.

If you find you enjoy it, go forth and experiment! Try rimming on your back, or maybe give facesitting a try. Don’t be afraid to venture into new territory. Sex is fun and we should all get a little creative every once in a while. Otherwise, what’s the point?

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