Dear Ty,

In the past few months I’ve seen what seems to be a new sex trend pop up  all over my Twitter feed: eating ass. I’m really confused about what this means and how it would work in the bedroom, especially since my partner has started bringing it up. Help me out!

—Ass Explorer

Dear AE,

Eating ass is indeed in the spotlight. If you type the two words into the Twitter search bar (hot tip: don’t do this on your parent’s computer), you’ll be sure to see an abundance of memes revolving around this cultural phenomenon.

Indeed, it seems like the generation now coming of age has discovered an innovative approach to sex, but that’s probably not the case. If I had to guess, I’d say eating ass is a practice as old as sex itself, but definitely one your generation is both popularizing and destigmatizing.

So here’s the lowdown: eating ass (also known as rimming, or tossing the salad) means exactly what you think it would. It’s like the typical form of oral sex, but instead of focusing on the penis or the vagina, the mouth puts in work on the anus.

I know, I know. At first this does sound a bit upsetting: how hygienic can it be to put your mouth and tongue inside someone’s ass? In reality, proctologist (that’s an anus, rectum and colon specialist) David Rosenfield told Buzzfeed that for people with normal and healthy bowels, bacteria in the region shouldn’t pose a particular risk. But he adds that if your partner is experiencing gastrointestinal issues (which could be caused by things like E. coli or salmonella that could be spread via the anus) it might be safest to skip the region all together.

Nevertheless, practicing good hygiene when preparing to have your ass eaten is essential, considering what this part of your body is associated with. This doesn’t just mean using enough toilet paper after going to the washroom, but using a healthy amount of soap on the area in the shower. If you’re caught in a sudden ass eating situation, use a sanitary cloth to cleanse the region, for both you and your partner’s sake.

Dr. Dennis Fortenberry, professor of pediatrics at Indiana University Medical School, told Buzzfeed STIs can definitely be transmitted through eating ass. He noted the ass itself isn’t exactly the issue, but the fact that it’s part of the region that connects the entire genital area.

To keep things extra safe, there’s always the option of using a dental dam, a type of condom in a sheet-like format that can serve as a protective barrier between the mouth and the anus or vagina.

In the end, sex is all about what you’re comfortable with. If this quick crash course lesson in Ass Eating 101 has made you more uncomfortable than excited, I’d suggest leaving it out of your sexual routine for now. As always, speak to your partner and be sure to keep an open line of communication both inside and outside the bedroom.

Love,

Ty