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Getting pregnant through anal sex is unlikely, though it could happen if semen from the anus gets into the vagina. There’s a bigger concern with anal sex: sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

The risk of getting an STD like HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) is higher with anal sex than vaginal sex. That’s because the lining of the rectum (where poop is stored until it leaves the body) is thin and can tear easily. This can let an infection get into your body.

How Can My Partner and I Stay Safe?

If a couple decides to have anal sex, they should use a condom each time. There’s less moisture than with vaginal sex, so condoms are more likely to break. Use a lot of water-based lubricating gel, which you can get online, at drugstores or superstores, or from a health clinic.

STDs can also spread through vaginal or oral sex, using fingers, or with other type of sexual contact. Most of the time STDs don’t cause symptoms, so someone can have an STD without knowing and pass it on. Protect yourself and your partner with a condom, finger condom, or dental dam each time you have sex. A second kind of birth control, like birth control pills or the shot, can further help prevent pregnancy.

The only way to fully prevent STDs and pregnancy is to not have sex.

What Else Should I Know?

It's a good idea to get tested for STDs at least once a year and when you have a new partner.

If you have questions about sex, pregnancy, or STDs, talk with your doctor. Or you can go to a health clinic like Planned Parenthood.

Medically reviewed by: Lonna P. Gordon, MD
Date reviewed: April 2024