So, Can You Really Get Pregnant From Anal Sex?

A question for the ages.

It was revealed earlier this year that even now, in 2023, sex education is still sorely lacking in nuance and discussions around sex that aren’t simply ‘penis in vagina’ (PIV) sex so it’s maybe not a surprise that we were never taught that engaging in anal sex could lead to pregnancy.

So, don’t worry too much, you haven’t been completely misinformed — you can’t get pregnant via the anal cavity and sperm really does have to enter the vagina for pregnancy to occur.

However, what we’re often not told is that sperm can make its way to the vagina without a penis actually entering it.

How anal sex can lead to pregnancy

So, just for a quick recap for the uninitiated, anal sex is when the penis enters the anal cavity. This can be incredibly pleasurable regardless for both parties involved and can be considered an alternative to PIV sex but is very much enjoyable in its own right.

Now, of course, the anal cavity is not connected to the female reproductive system so getting pregnant directly from anal sex is impossible.

However, as with most things that we’d prefer to be straightforward, it’s not quite that simple.

According to the Sexperts at Clue, because the distance between the rectum and vagina is so small, having anal sex without taking precautions such as using a condom can lead to pregnancy in a roundabout way because sperm can still get into the vagina and cause pregnancy.

They add that while this is very unlikely and there is no firm data on how frequently it has happened, it is still possible.

Additionally, having anal sex does not prevent STIs and STIs can be passed to or from an anal sex partner so using condoms with a suitable lubricant is essential.

How to have safe anal sex

So, while pregnancy isn’t a huge risk with anal sex, it’s still essential that you practice safe sex. A study found that, compared with women who had only unprotected vaginal intercourse in the past year, women who had unprotected anal intercourse were 2.6 times as likely to have an STD diagnosis.

According to Healthline, these tips can help you have safer, more enjoyable anal sex:

  • Cut your nails. Longer, unkempt nails can cause tearing of the anus skin during anal fingering which can lead to bacteria spreading. Trim your nails and scrub under them before and after anal play. Ensure your partner does the same!
  • If you’re extra concerned about faeces, consider using an enema while keeping a dark towel or sheet beneath you to keep any ‘mess’ discrete
  • Use a condom or similar barrier method
  • Use lube and reapply often. Both latex and water-based lubes work great with latex condoms and barriers
  • Ensure that you clean up afterwards. This includes your hands, genitals, and any sex toys, Additionally, if you’re using condoms and planning to switch to oral, manual or penetrative play, change condoms before switching. Bacteria from the anus that gets into the urethra can cause UTIs. This goes for a penis, fingers, or sex toy.