Mar 122000

This is a comment about advice written in one of your columns. Kimberly of Spokane, Washington described unbearable pain in spite of her interest and best efforts. Your advice gave the impression that it was her attitude that caused her pain and lack of success. Nowhere was it suggested that she seek proper medical attention from a doctor of proctologist to examine her for organic problems such as an anal fissure or hemorrhoids. Either could render the best intentions, exercise, and lubrication useless in avoiding excruciating pain.

–Steven Wells, San Jose, CA

Thank you for your letter, and your point is well taken. Kimberly’s question about pain during anal sex is representative of so many letters I receive which is why I chose to answer it. When people experience pain during anal sex, it can be attributed to so many different sources: stress and tension of the sphincter muscles, anus, and rectum; a lack of sufficient lubrication and/or warm up; fear, anxiety, or other unresolved emotional or psychological issues around anal sex; or a lack of desire to be doing it in the first place. Those were the issues I focused on in my response to Kimberly.

Of course, the pain some people experience (including Kimberly) could be the result of untreated anal fissures or hemorrhoids which can be aggravated and irritated by anal penetration. Everyone should listen to their bodies, use common sense when it comes to their health, and see a doctor regularly.

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