Skip to main content

Home Culture Culture Sexuality

The gay man’s ultimate guide to the bottom

It's time to know your arse from your elbow.

By Will Stroude

This article first appeared in Attitude issue 293, March 2018

You may think you know everythig about your bum, but we’d bet our bottom doller that TV’s Dr. Ranj Singh knows more.

Although its primary function is the elimination of waste, the human anus is full of surprises — and not just in the icky sense.

It’s high time we all got a bit better acquainted with our rear ends, so here are some important bits of information you may not be aware of…


The anus (aka the bum hole) is the term used to refer to the opening at the end of the digestive tract. Just inside this is the anal canal, a tube-like structure anywhere between 3cm and 5cm long. It travels upwards and in a slightly forward direction to join the rectum, which is the end of the intestine and where poo is held. The anus is held closed by two muscular rings of tissue or sphincters: the internal and external. The external one is under voluntary control, so you can tighten and relax it at will. On the other hand, the internal sphincter is involuntary and usually only relaxes when you’re on the toilet (the pressure of faeces in the rectum sends a signal to your brain that you need to go). However, it can learn to relax during other activities too, which is why bottoming can be practised.


The anus and anal canal are rich in nerve endings, making them one of the most sensitive areas of the human body — and this is why anal play can be so pleasurable. The nerves are responsible for sensation and also controlling the muscles around the anus when you go to the toilet. Often when people bottom for the first time, they get the sensation of needing to defecate and worry about having an accident. This is normal because the nerves down there feel pressure and can’t tell whether it’s coming from a penis or poo, but this settles down with practice. If you’ve prepared properly, there won’t be any poo hanging about and you’ll have nothing to worry about.


No one actually knows why we have it, and not everyone likes it, but hair around the anus is perfectly normal. There are lots of theories as to why it exists, ranging from being an evolutionary remnant, to a way of enhancing our natural scent down there. People have different preferences about their undergrowth, but one thing’s for certain: the presence of hair makes farts quieter because it acts as Mother Nature’s muffler.


Inside the anus, towards the front, is the prostate gland, which some people refer to as the male G-spot. It is possible to orgasm through stimulation of the prostate alone, but it’s quite tricky to achieve. This is also the gland that enlarges naturally in men as they age, especially in conditions such as prostate cancer. Your doctor might pop a finger up your bottom as part of a medical check, as this is a quick and easy way to assess whether something is wrong. Don’t worry, this won’t make you ejaculate.


The anus and anal canal are supplied by a network of blood vessels (which is why any medication put up the bum is directly absorbed into the bloodstream). Straining too hard over long periods of time can cause these blood vessels to swell up and hang out as piles (haemorrhoids) — essentially varicose veins of the bum. These may bleed or become painful, but they can be sorted out easily. It’s best to prevent them happening in the first place: don’t push too hard when you go to the toilet and try to avoid constipation. ANAL BOTOX IS A REAL THING Sometimes it is necessary to relax the muscles of the anus as they may be too tight and this can exacerbate problems such as anal fissures (small painful tears in the wall of the anus, see p84). To do this, doses of botulinum toxin are injected into anal sphincters to relax them a little and allow the fissure to heal. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make your arse look any younger!


Looking after your bottom is important, so getting to know what looks and feels normal is a good idea. Spend some quality time with your bum now and again just to make sure everything is OK. Keep it clean (simply wiping or washing the outside is fine), and look out for any worrying symptoms. If you do experience bleeding, it’s most likely to be from something such as piles or a fissure, which aren’t harmful. However, any bleeding which persists or is associated with other symptoms such as diarrhoea, weight loss or feeling unwell, should be checked out.

Selected back issues of Attitude are available to download now here.