By nature, anal play can get a little messy. For some people, that’s a mood killer, but a little preparation can allow for a much cleaner experience. A pre-sex enema can help to get rid of most waste matter, and if you’re interested in anal, you’ve probably wondered whether an enema is a necessary part of the experience.

Here’s the simple answer: you don’t always need an enema before sex. However, some people enjoy enemas and choose to incorporate them into their routines – whether that’s right for you will depend on your personal preferences (as well as your partner’s).

To understand why enemas are optional, here’s a quick biology lesson: your rectum (the final part of your large intestine) is normally empty, unless you feel like you need to defecate. In a sense, it’s actually one of the cleanest parts of your digestive tract. It’s straight, and the part of your intestine that normally contains fecal matter curves away from the rectum.

If you don’t feel like you have to “go,” you can probably have sex without dealing with too much of a mess. That all depends on your diet, of course, but generally you don’t have to worry too much if you’ve gone to the bathroom about three to four hours before sex. You should still clean the outside of your anus before getting into anal play – try showering with your partner as a form of foreplay and use a mild antibacterial soap.

Of course, you can get even cleaner by performing an enema a few hours before sex. If you’re interested in trying an enema, here’s what you need to know.

What are the Benefits of a Pre-Sex Enema?

There are a few reasons to perform an enema before sex. Enema solutions can free up bits of fecal material, allowing for a cleaner experience. Some people also find pre-sex enemas to be relaxing, which makes penetration easier and more pleasurable.

Keep these tips in mind to perform a safe, effective enema:

Use Sterile Equipment. Your rectum contains a lot of bacteria, but it’s bacteria that your body needs to keep you healthy. You don’t want to introduce too many new species of bacteria, and you don’t want to kill anything that’s supposed to be there.

To stay safe, use an enema bulb or system specifically designed for the purpose. Sterilize after every use by boiling or by cleaning with an antibacterial soap. You can also use adult toy cleaners to keep your equipment in great condition.

Apply a small amount of water-based lubricant to the tip of the enema bulb for easier insertion.

Choose a Safe Enema Solution. Many people use warm water without any additives, but you can also use an enema solution. If you go this route, find a safe over-the-counter solution or home recipe that’s intended for enemas. Don’t use soaps or douche solutions.

Go Slow. Take in a small amount of water at first and gradually add more. Stop right away if you feel cramped; your body’s telling you that you’ve gone far enough. Wait a minute or more before adding more solution or stop entirely.

If you’re using a solution, you’ll often need to retain the liquid for a few minutes. With warm water, you can expel the liquid right away. This can get messy, so consider performing your enema in the shower or tub.

There are plenty of great enema systems available, and they make the process much easier. Again, you don’t always need an enema, but they’re certainly an option if you’re worried about cleanliness; just be sure to use the right equipment and check with your doctor prior to cleansing if you have any digestive issues.