Aug 072005

I have been in an ongoing debate with my girlfriend for a little over a year now concerning what I consider to be an urban legend about the dangers of anal play. My girlfriend and I enjoy anal play and take part in it on a regular basis. However, she is absolutely convinced that anal play over a long period of time (years) will damage the anal sphincter and result in anal leakage, or the inability of one to retain their feces in their rectum. Apparently her gynecologist told her that homosexual men often end up having to wear tampons in their anus to prevent embarrassing accidents because their anal sphincter has become so stretched out from anal play.

I was a paramedic for eight years and am getting ready to go into medical school. I have spent a good deal of time studying the human body, and I have tried to explain to her that this story just does not make sense from a physiological or anatomical standpoint. Rather, I believe that this is an urban legend which was propagated through the usual channels and which can likely be traced back to two separate verifiable issues:

  1. There are men who wear tampons in their anus, however it is done as part of a fetish such as feminization or cross dressing and is in itself part of the sex play and not necessitated by an inability to retain their feces; and
  2. There have been cases, I suspect, where persons damaged their anal sphincter by inserting objects which were too large and/or without proper lubrication and in doing so physically injured the tissue, causing tears and other damage, possibly to the point of affecting retention.

In these cases I think it would be highly unlikely that the injured party would attempt to rectify the situation using a tampon, but would more likely seek medical attention and undergo surgical repair of the injury. Unfortunately, my girlfriend doesn’t buy my theory, and while she has never refused or even hesitated to participated in any kind of sexual play, she does occasionally make a statement to the effect that I will wish that I had listened to her by the time I’m forty. What do you think?

–Urban Legend Myth Buster

Your girlfriend and her gynecologist are wrong, and you are right. Lots of anal play over time increases circulation to the area, exercises and tones the sphincter muscles, and helps you stay more connected to your ass in general. It does not cause you to lose control of your bowels. Certainly there have been cases where people developed certain anal ailments after years of anal play (more commonly, people develop anal fissures). But in my experience, the problems were caused by unsafe anal sex practices, like not using lube, combining drugs with anal play, or shoving huge things in the ass without warm up.

As to the tampon issue, you’re correct on both counts. There are men who play with tampons as part of a fetish, but no one who is incontinent should ever use a tampon anally. If you’ve truly lost control of your bowels, there are several medical options, but tampon use isn’t one of them.

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