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What is Anal Training & Anal Stretching?

Just like working out any part of your body, sphincter muscles also need to be trained for maximum flexibility. This anal training process, also called anal stretching or dilation, often involves the act of opening, widening, or stretching the anus with tools called anal dilators or anal expanders. It is often done after surgical procedures on the anus to restore the area to its normal state or as a method to prevent anal fissures. Anal stretching can make passing stool and/or sexual activity more comfortable and is imperative to both functionality, along with the aesthetics desired.


What Is The Purpose Of Anal Training & Stretching?

Most people have a difficult time with complete sphincter relaxation, during both defecation and intercourse. The goal of anal stretching is to train the muscles to be able to easily relax and loosen up when needed. Being able to relax the sphincter muscles is especially important if you partake in anal play or anal sex (bottoming).

Anal training and following a dilation protocol is also important for the prevention of anal fissures. If you are unable to fully relax, this could increase your chances of tears and fissures which could lead to pain and a possible need for surgery.


How Can The Anal Sphincter Muscles Relax?

Understanding anal anatomy and muscular contractility is a must in sexual education, all in the hopes of long lasting and powerful experiences. Unfortunately, the knowledge of both how to relax your anus and how to correctly play have been lacking in most educational curriculums and even in the majority of physicians’ offices. As it pertains to anything in anal play, one must think of the sphincter as having two major functions:

  • contractility
  • relaxation


Graphic of the anal sphincter muscles

The muscles within the entire anal sphincter, independently and together as a whole, are responsible for the functions of contracting, pushing out, and squeezing or pulling things in. Learning how to control both of these functions will ultimately allow you to relax your sphincter during anal intercourse.


How Effective Is Anal Training?

Anal training and stretching is extremely effective if done properly. This will take a lot of practice and an understanding of anal anatomy and muscular contractility. One is sorely (no pun intended) mistaken to think one can just shove a penis, toy, butt plug, or other object into the anus and have it be an effective method of anal dilation.

This is why the team at Bespoke Surgical has created an anal dilation protocol that will expertly guide you on your anal stretching and dilation journey. The reason this protocol is effective is because it creates a neural mechanism from the brain to the anus to improve that relaxation when called upon.


How Does Anal Training Work?

It takes time and patience for anal training to work. In order to have a fruitful encounter, while minimizing injury, dilation is key — both before you ever start engaging anally and also in between the times of when you do engage. Like any other muscle, learning how to relax your sphincter muscle will require constant exercise. If it doesn’t experience that relaxation control, it will go back to being too tight, accompanied by painful experiences or even worse — anal fissures, hemorrhoids, and the like.


The Anal Dilation Protocol From Bespoke Surgical

Before starting the protocol, Dr. Goldstein recommends purchasing an anal dilation trainer kit, which usually comes with 3-4 sizes that increase in both length and girth.

Dr. Goldstein recommends the following process for starting anal stretching:

  • Choose a convenient time and place, such as before or during a shower.
  • Use the smallest dilator first and a significant amount of water or toy-approved lubrication.
  • Over the course of 3-5 minutes, insert the dilator about 4-5cm into the anus, right beyond where the muscle lies.
  • It will take 4-6 times to insert because those muscles need time to relax.
  • If met with resistance, pull the dilator out, re-lubricate, and do it again.
  • Even if you think you can take more, still start with the smallest dilator and use consistently for a week or two before graduating to the next size up and then repeat the same process over the subsequent weeks.

One may feel discomfort during the rectal dilation process — this is completely normal — but cease use if you witness any pain. It takes time and the key is more mental control of how one can contract or relax and learn to control like any other muscle we have. If one has ever topped someone and they can completely open their anus, it’s not due to looseness, but rather more about anal control. If any issues arise during this process, please make an appointment to see Dr. Goldstein so that he can help get you on the right path. There may be other factors at play, which are limiting one’s ability to successfully bottom.

For more information, read about anal botox and how it may help move the dilation process along.


Anal Dilation Procedures At Bespoke Surgical

If anal fissures persist, even after you have tried the dilation protocol at home, or you are finding that you may need extra help with the process, please make an appointment to see Dr. Goldstein. While the at-home training should be an effective method of anal fissure prevention, there may be a need for surgical correction or in-office physical therapy.


Frequently Asked Questions About Anal Stretching

What preparation is needed for anal stretching?

No prep is needed for anal stretching other than having a normal bowel movement. Setting the stage for success includes a positive mood and mindset, as well as your surroundings. Dr. Goldstein usually recommend doing your exercises in the shower, while warm or hot water is running or right before a shower, both of which can help aid in relaxation. Be sure to have all of your supplies ready before you get started and remember that this includes lots of lube (this is paramount).

What positions work best for anal training?

There aren’t any specific positions that work best for anal stretching and training. What’s more important is what feels comfortable for you. Understanding your anatomy, with all its internal angles and curves, sets the stage for successful dilating and play.

You’ll want direct, straight-in access, paying attention to your sphincter muscles upon entry. This means that it may be best lying on your back or on all fours and using a repetitive motion, going in-and-out, until you hit resistance. This controlled pressure, with continued gaping, will allow for the relaxation we need that will assist in anal stretching. You may need a bit of trial and error to see what feels right. I also encourage you to switch things up because we want to simulate future play as best we can and sometimes that takes on a mind of its own–or many different positions.

Is anal stretching permanent? How often do you need to dilate? 

Unfortunately, anal stretching is not permanent and anal training is a continuous process. You should make these exercises a weekly ritual. You have two options: engaging in anal sex or playing with butt plugs or dilators 2-3 times a week to dilate. As you get more advanced, you should be using your butt plugs or anal dilators for both stretching and tightening–the dilation will keep you ready to bottom, while the contractions will keep the muscles and skin in check. Dr. Goldstein’s protocol allows for risk and injury prevention, as well as pleasurable engagement, alone or with others.

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Dr. Evan Goldstein, D.O.

Dr. Evan Goldstein is the Founder and CEO of Bespoke Surgical, NYC’s leading sexual health private practice. He received his osteopathic doctorate from the University of Medicine and Dentistry School in 2002 and completed his residency in General Surgery at Maimonides Medical Center. In 2020, he was named one of NYC’s top LGBTQ+ business leaders by Crain’s New York and he is involved with GLSEN, ACRIA, HRC, and Callen-Lorde’s Howard J. Brown Society. All of these experiences and affiliations have shaped his whole-life approach towards the practice of private surgical care and sexual wellness.

Read More    Dr. Evan Goldstein’s NPI record    Click to send an email to

This page was medically reviewed by Dr. Evan Goldstein on February 5, 2021.



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