Oct 222014

cyndi darnell

This week I’m so excited to bring sex educator, counselor, and therapist Cyndi Darnell to Sex Out Loud. We talk about her work, her obsession with erotic anatomy, and her new project The Atlas of Erotic Anatomy and Arousal. We discuss the difference between Australian audiences and American ones, but also the elements of sexuality that are universal no matter where she teaches. Sex Out Loud airs every Friday at 5 pm PT / 8 pm ET on the VoiceAmerica Variety channel. You can listen on your computer, phone, or tablet, find all the ways here!

Cyndi Darnell is one of Australia’s leading sex therapists and sex educators with over 20 years experience studying human sexuality from the clinical to the esoteric. Her work and commentary has been sought for media around the country including Channel 10’s The Project, ABC Radio National, Triple J, Triple R, JOY 94.9, ABC Melbourne with Jon Faine, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Mamamia and both Aust. Women’s & Men’s Health Magazines. She was also a co-creator of six educational podcasts with Catherine Deveny on popular topics in adult sex education. She was the founder and host of Pleasure Forum Australia which ran in Melbourne from 2010- 2013. Cyndi has also hosted events and spoke at The Wheeler Centre, Victoria University, University of Melbourne, Family Planning Victoria, Arts Access Victoria , Aust. College of Applied Psychology, and she was a panelist with the prestigious Sydney ‘‘Women Say Something’’ event.

Cyndi counsels individuals, couples & beyond on issues related to sex and relationships from her practice in Melbourne and globally via Skype. She runs comprehensive and entertaining educational seminars and workshops on adult sexuality, pleasure & relationships both in Australia and globally to demystify sex and emphasize pleasure. Cyndi is known for her capacity to offer practical information, esoteric insight and emotional warmth & reassurance all wrapped up in light -hearted Australian humor and fabulous footwear. She is uniquely placed to be able to bridge the world of sexology from a variety of perspectives and approaches that embrace, understand and challenge the diversity of human sexuality.


May 152013

My lover and I would like to experience pleasurable anal intercourse. The only previous experience I had was a painful 5 seconds, 10 years ago, when my ex-girlfriend and I hadn’t the least notion of what we were doing. Since then I’ve read several reputable sources on the subject including your book and the work of Dr. Jack Morin, and I seem to recall some advice regarding facilitation of penetration. I remember reading a recommendation somewhere that the person receiving the penis or dildo, lie on a certain side of their body in order to more easily allow for the natural curve in the sigmoid colon, where it’s attached to the rectum. Was this simply my imagination playing tricks on me? Am I getting this confused with stuff I read right before I had my first digital rectal exam and a colonoscopy? Or is there in fact a “correct” side to be lying on?

–Side Seeker

On the instructions that come with a store bought enema, one recommendation for a comfortable position (sometimes called the “Simms Position”) to give yourself an enema is to lie on your left side and bend your right leg toward your chest. This position allows easy access to the anus, keeps the weight off your abdomen, and allows the enema solution to flow easily into the colon. Likewise, often when you are given an enema from a health care professional, they may put you in that position. But I’ve never heard of a sex educator recommend that someone lie on a certain side for anal penetration.

When it comes to anal penetration with a penis or dildo, your concern is about the rectum, not the colon. The rectum is slightly curved — which is why careful penetration is important so you don’t bump into the rectal wall — but its curves are not like the more drastic curve between the rectum and the sigmoid colon. You can receive and enjoy anal penetration is many different positions, including missionary, on top, spooning, doggie style, standing, bent over something… you get the picture.

I looked in Jack Morin’s book, Anal Pleasure and Health, and the only thing he says that relates to your question is: “Any position which places your legs at right angles to the upper body . . . will straighten the rectum a bit.” Again, this comment is in reference to a discussion about the curves of the rectum, not the sigmoid colon.

Oct 102012

I know the ass is sensitive, but how many nerve endings are there in the ass? Is it the same in guys and girls? And are the “good feeling nerves” located in the sphincter or the rectum?

–Curious About Anatomy

The anus (the anal opening), the anal canal (the first few inches inside), and the rectum are all sensitive in different ways, which is why anal stimulation and penetration can be so pleasurable. The external and internal sphincter muscles surround the anal opening. These muscles can work together or independently of each other, and these are the muscles we must learn to relax in order to achieve comfortable anal penetration. When we talk about the sphincter and pelvic muscles and how they play a role in anal pleasure, we discuss them less in terms of sensitivity and more in terms of how tone and “in shape” they are and how tense or relaxed they are. The anus and the outer part of the anal canal are made of the same sensitive soft tissue and this tissue contains the most concentration of nerve endings of all our anal anatomy. In general, this tissue tends to be more sensitive to touch and vibration. The inner part of the anal canal and the rectum are mucous membrane and have a lot less nerve endings; however this tissue is much more sensitive to pressure (like from penetration).

Men and women have nearly identical anorectal anatomy except for one important difference: men have a prostate gland, which can be stimulated directly via anal penetration. The prostate gland surrounds part of a man’s urethra; it’s behind the pubic bone, below the bladder and above the base of the penis. A mass of muscle, glands, and connective tissue, the prostate is about the size and shape of a walnut; it produces ejaculatory fluid that combines with sperm and fluid from the seminal vesicles to create male ejaculate. Men can experience direct prostate stimulation when they are anally penetrated. It can be found by sliding a finger (or toy) about one to two inches inside a man’s ass and aiming toward the front of his body.

While women don’t have a prostate, but we do have a G-spot and can experience indirect G-spot stimulation through anal penetration. The G-spot is the urethral sponge which sits around the urethra; to find it, slip a finger inside her vagina an inch to an inch and a half and toward the front of her body. The G-spot can be stimulated through the front wall of the vagina or indirectly though anal sex.

Aug 212012

I am an experienced anal player. I have had fun with my ass for over ten years now and still enjoy it like the first time I did it. My former Master and I used to do lots of play with anal dilators and my ass got quite stretchable. Recently I started to venture a bit into deeper anal probing and I really enjoy that as well. I seem to be able to find lots of information on anal stretching, but there is little about exploring the depths of the ass. So my question is what techniques and approaches are there for depth play? Where are the risks, where are the limits, where do I have to take special care? Are there any special health risks when one goes deeper, besides the obvious injury risk?

–Deep in the Deep South

The anal canal and rectum are 10-11″ long, and so you’ve got quite a bit of room to play with long toys. As long as you use plenty of lube, work your way up to bigger and longer toys, and listen to your body, going deep into the rectum is safe. Once you venture beyond the rectum, you get to the sigmoid colon, and the risks of penetration increase greatly. In the sigmoid colon, you have a greater chance of tearing or rupturing a part of the colon. The best information about what you call “depth play” beyond the rectum can be found in writing and videos on anal fisting, which are mostly produced by gay men. I suggest the book Trust: The Handbook, A Guide to the Sensual and Spiritual Art of Handballing by Bert Herrman and the website Red Right.

Jun 302005

My fiancé and I have been exploring BDSM, which we enjoy fully. He wants to have anal sex with me, and although it would be the first for me, I’m willing to try it out at least once. He does have a really big penis — gloriously big — and I’m concerned about the process as I’m a small woman. Is there anything I can do to prepare myself for him and make this enjoyable for both of us?

–Tiny But Tempted

Your physical size does not necessarily correlate with your ability to take a “gloriously big” cock up your ass. I’ve seen women who are five feet tall and 98 pounds with very large things comfortably nestled in their behinds. It’s more about your internal than your external size. Like the pussy, the ass has the ability to expand when you’re aroused. Plus, the rectum is longer than the vagina and therefore can usually accommodate something bigger.

However, since your guy is larger than average, it means that you’re going to have to work your way up slowly. And since it’s your very first anal adventure, his cock should not go into your ass all in one evening. Instead, I recommend that you begin playing with a finger or a slim toy either alone or with him. Use plenty of lube, go slowly, and stimulate your clit. When you’ve practiced a few times with the one finger/small toy, and it feels great, you can move on to two fingers or a slightly bigger toy. Again, you can play together or you can add anal play to your masturbation. The important thing is not to rush the process. Find a dildo that’s “one step down” from your man’s cock. When you’ve worked up to taking that dildo, and it’s comfortable and pleasurable, then you can try his cock. Make sure he goes very slowly, and that you give him lots of feedback about how it feels. If you both take your time and let your ass set the pace, it will reward you in the end!

May 292005

I am on a maddening search to find information online about the A-spot on/in a woman. We’ve all heard plenty about the G-spot but the A is not so much talked about. Have you heard about it and can you advise me where it is exactly and how it is stimulated?

–Desperately Seeking The A-Spot

I pride myself on knowing nearly everything there is to know about the ass, and I’ve never heard of the A-Spot! If you’re searching for the equivalent to the G-spot in a girl’s behind, the bad news is that there isn’t one. Men have a prostate which is sometimes referred to as the male G-spot (I’ve never heard it called the A-spot, although I suppose it could be). You can stimulate the prostate through anal penetration and it’s very pleasurable for guys, but there isn’t an exact equivalent for chicks.

The good news is that if you’re hunting for sensitive spots inside a woman’s butt, there are plenty. The anus, anal canal, and rectum are all made of sensitive tissue that’s rich in nerve endings and very responsive to all kinds of stimulation. Plus, many women find that their G-spots get indirectly stimulated through anal penetration; some even say that an anal orgasm feels a lot like the orgasm they experience from direct G-spot stimulation. To indirectly hit the G-spot, slip a finger or two inside the ass and aim toward the front of the body (just like when you want to get to the G-spot); curved dildos and vibrators can also be great for anal penetration and indirect G-spot stimulation. You can call off your search for the A-spot — there isn’t just one spot, the whole butt is fair game!

Feb 272005

I love anal sex — much more than vaginal. I love the pressure just before the head pops in and that little ache as it does. What I am having problems with is that everything that goes in my ass seems too long. It feels almost like the dick or the toy is hitting something inside of me, and it hurts. I have a friend I play with and we do a lot of BDSM scenes, especially rape scenes and punishment-type scenes. He would like to see just how much my butt can take, and I do love the width of everything, especially the next day. Can you help me with the length problem?

–Woodstock Girl

Unlike the vagina, the rectum is not a straight tube. It has a gentle curve, first tipping forward toward the front of the body, then away, then forward again. Everyone’s curves are different, and some are more pronounced than others. As a result, if you stick anything straight inside the rectum, you can wind up hitting the rectal wall, which is not a good feeling for anyone. It sounds like that may be the sensation you described. Have your partner experiment with different positions and angles when he fucks you in the ass, and see if there’s one that allows for penetration without the pain. Toys made of flexible materials are more comfortable and bend easier with your curves; if a toy itself is curved, the curve should be aimed toward the front of the body. All that said, you can also have a short rectum. Since you get pleasure from wide toys, I say invest is some short but wide dildos or butt plugs — go with what works!

Dec 152004

I started doing anal play about ten years ago. It was somewhat uncomfortable, but I persisted. Well, my persistence paid off. I am now able to take a dildo about 10 inches long and about 7.5 inches in circumference. I thoroughly enjoy it, but I have a question about how deep you can go. I tried inserting it to about 12 inches, and I got it worked in, but after about five minutes, I removed it, and there was blood. It shook me up big time. It stopped immediately, but I didn’t insert anything for week for fear of starting something I couldn’t stop. I felt no pain and it felt good. Is the blood a big deal?

–Size Queen

Since the rectum is quite delicate and covered by mucous membrane, even the gentlest of penetration with the smallest of toys can cause a small tear and a little bit of blood. It’s usually not cause for concern as long as the amount of blood is small and there’s no serious pain or discomfort. However, in your case, you’re using very long, thick toys for penetration that give you more of a chance of causing an abrasion or tear; you must realize that a twelve-inch dildo or one that is nearly eight inches thick is huge and not common. When you penetrate your ass with something longer than about ten inches, you move beyond the rectum into the sigmoid colon, which is made up of fragile tissues. Technically, anything bigger than 10 inches could perforate this, especially if it’s inflexible. Plus, an extremely thick dildo can stress the rectal lining. My advice is that at the first sign of blood, you should stop immediately and give your ass a few days to recover. If these big dildos continue to make you bleed, then I suggest you select smaller ones.

Aug 182004

Are some women’s butts more pre-disposed to anal intercourse than others? I know we are all different, with different bodies, needs, and desires, but I wonder if there is a physical component to achieving success in anal penetration. My current partner loves anal sex, and she can have these long, all-over-her-body orgasms when I fuck her that way. With my last girlfriend, however, I wanted on many occasions to have anal sex, but could never get it right. We did loads of foreplay, including massaging, oral with loads of clitoral stimulation, anal rimming, licking, loads of lube etc. With all that said and done, her butthole never loosened up very much, and didn’t get vaguely close to me getting myself in there. Is she just not an ‘A’ candidate, or was I missing something somewhere?

–Perplexed About A Butt

Yours is a very interesting question, one I think could be asked about all sorts of sexual desires and acts, not just anal penetration. You’re correct about how individual we all are; while our anatomy may be similar, our sexuality — how we liked to be touched, what turns us on, what combinations of sensations and scenarios brings us to orgasm — can be almost as unique as our fingerprints. Certainly, there are some women who seem to enjoy anal pleasure more than others, and I can say from experience that some women have an easier time than others. When I say easy, though, know that all the same rules still apply; you still must use lube, go slow, and make sure her body is warmed up. Likewise, there are plenty of women who tell me that they enjoy anal, but it takes them a lot of time to relax and open up, and on some occasions, it just won’t happen.

I appreciate your dedication to your previous girlfriend; it sounds like you made all the right moves, but even with the best effort, sometimes foreplay isn’t enough. In addition to the physical aspects of anal play, there are psychological and emotional components that cannot be ignored. If a woman is feeling unsure, nervous, anxious, or conflicted about receiving anal pleasure, then no amount of expert cunnilingus or rimming may change her mind. Sometimes, working through a partner’s fears about anal play — whether it’s the potential mess or pain, or feeling dirty for just wanting it — are the key to opening up. Free her mind, and (hopefully) her ass will follow.

Jun 032004

As long as we do lots of foreplay and my body is prepared, I don’t have a problem with pain during anal penetration. However, after about four inches of cock in my ass, I get abdominal pain that I can’t get past, no matter how relaxed or aroused I am. We’ve tried changing positions, but no matter what, it’s as if there is a road block. This is frustrating for me, and I know that for my husband, who wants his balls to slap my pussy on the downswing, it has to be downright maddening. I asked a girlfriend who’s into anal if she had ever experienced this, and she says that around the seven inch mark, her guy seems to hit a wall. Is it possible that there is a sharp bend that is preventing full penetration? Is there a technique to get around the discomfort I am experiencing? Swing to the left? Swing to the right?

–Wanting More

The first two inches inside the anus is called the anal canal, and the rectum is the area from the anal canal to the colon, which is another five to seven inches. Unlike the vagina, where you’ve got a pretty straight shot from end to end, the rectum is curved. That’s especially important to know when penetrating someone’s ass with anything longer than a finger, and especially with a dildo or vibrator that is firm and inflexible (like one made of hard plastic, clear acrylic, or glass). If you jam something (especially something rock hard) straight inside you can absolutely hit the rectal wall, which does not feel good. As you get more turned on, the rectum expands, and the curves are less pronounced, but they are still present.

So, the “four inch” stopping point you describe could correspond with the first curve of the rectum, when it curves toward the front of the body. Everyone’s internal geography is unique, and it’s possible that your rectum is more curvy than others. I’ve heard people report similar feelings of facing a roadblock inside their asses.

You’ve already tried changing positions, which would be my first suggestion. I suggest that you pick a long, very flexible toy, and, while masturbating, begin exploring your ass with it. Take note of the curve of the rectum, what feels good and what doesn’t, and if you can find your roadblock, or if you develop discomfort. Experiment with moving the toy forward or back inside of you to see if that changes anything. If you can find the trouble spot, see if you can move past it or around it, again, by moving it toward the front of the body or toward the back. If you are still experiencing problems, I suggest you talk to your doctor about it and have a rectal exam.