Sexual health

Here are the results of the anal douching survey in San Francisco

Respondents said, “careful with that shower shot,” and gave other useful douching advice.

We don’t often talk about anal douching, but know it’s something many of us do in the privacy of our bathrooms. And since it’s connected to our sex lives and sexual health, we thought it deserved a closer look. In addition to our anal douching infographic and article about anal douching safety for gay men, we present the results of our anal douching survey. We asked—you answered. Here’s what you had to say about anal douching.

“If shit shows up, the fun is over.” —Survey participant

First, a few notes about the survey. We posted this anonymous questionnaire to a convenient sample of people in our networks. By no means is this survey representative of our entire community or San Francisco. Also, it’s likely that people who took the survey are people with anal douching experience or people who felt they had something to say about anal douching. (In other words, our survey results suffer from response bias.)

“Douche so you don’t feel self-conscious, but don’t get too much in your head if something happens anyway.” —Survey participant

Who participated?

A total of 163 people took the survey. Only 2% reported topping only; 23% reported exclusive bottoming; the majority (75%) said they were versatile.

Most people had experience douching. Fifty percent (50%) said that they “usually” douche.

“Don’t spray your guts out, boo!” —Survey participant

Do you prefer it when your partners douche?

Most people said they preferred it when partners douched (78%). Some said they didn’t care (11%), didn’t know if their partners douched (10%), or outright didn’t prefer partners to douche (1%).

Why do you prefer it when partners douche?

There were about six different types of reasons that people gave for why they prefer it when their partners douche. In no particular order, people prefer it when partners douche because…

  1. It is less messy, and prevents “mood killing accidents.” As one person said, “If shit shows up, the fun is over.”
  2. It is better for rimming or going between anal play and oral sex.
  3. It is more hygienic and comes with less risk of ingesting bacteria during rimming.
  4. It helps people feel relaxed and less worried about making a mess.
  5. It helps prevent bad smells.
  6. It enables people to have sex longer, without worry about poop showing up.

“I douche 95% of the time if I plan to bottom.” —Survey participant

Why do you NOT prefer it when partners douche?

Some people said they didn’t care if their partners douched, or preferred their partners not to douche. Here are the reasons they said why.

  1. It takes forever.
  2. Partners can leak during sex.
  3. It’s more “authentic” if partners don’t douche.
  4. Poop comes with the territory. “I’m used to it,” one person said.
  5. Douching is “invasive.”
  6. Douching is not necessary.

“I think it’s invasive and not necessary. All you need is a good bowel movement, and all will be fine.” —Survey participant

For bottoms & versatile partners: Do YOU douche?

Most bottom and versatile people said that they douche (58%). About 13% said that they do not douche. 28% said that they douche “sometimes.”

For bottoms who do NOT douche – why?

There were many reasons why people said they don’t douche. The top reason: “Because I’m not having sex right now!” The other reasons were (in no particular order):

  1. I’m not sure how to do it.
  2. You don’t need to do it to have pleasurable sex.
  3. I just never have.
  4. It hurts.
  5. I’m not having sex.
  6. It’s annoying.
  7. It’s not good for you.
  8. Taking fiber supplements is better than douching.
  9. It’s too messy.
  10. It’s natural for there to be some poop during sex.
  11. A doctor told me to let my body cleanse itself.

“I douche if I know my diet hasn’t been that great – or if I’m nervous about my date.” —Survey participant

For bottoms who douche – why?

We asked bottoms who douche the same question. Why do you douche? Their responses were similar—but not the same—as the reasons given about why people prefer it when partners douche. There were about 13 different types of reasons given. People said that they douche because…

  1. It’s less messy. “Nobody wants a code brown,” said one person. Another said, “No one wants chocolate covered dick.”
  2. It helps reduce anxiety, be more relaxed, or reduce their insecurities during sex. One person said, “Being clean makes it more pleasurable so that I’m not paranoid thinking about making a mess.”
  3. It’s better for rimming or being able to switch back and forth from anal to oral. “I like my ass rimmed and a top doesn’t like to lick my munt unless it’s clean! I like to rub coconut oil on it after so there’s a cute flavor on it too,” said one participant.
  4. It helps prevent “mood killing” accidents. “Poop is a bone killer,” said one person.
  5. It helps you be or feel clean.
  6. It helps prevent awkward interactions or feelings.
  7. It helps keep sex going and helps prevent having to stop sex because of poop. “Poopy ass = no sex,” said one person.
  8. It helps prevent bad smells during sex.
  9. It helps people loosen up and relax their butt.
  10. It makes you more inviting to a partner.
  11. It’s part of the expectation if you’re a bottom. As one person put it, “If you’re bottoming, you have to be clean.”
  12. It helps prevent tearing or cuts caused by fisting. One person said, “I am also into fisting and ass play so this helps decrease the risk of foreign material that could cause even more tearing or cuts internally.”
  13. It’s “healthier.”

What products do you use?

Here’s what people said they use to douche. Most people said they use a bulb enema or a shower head/hose. Other people said they use Fleet enemas, an enema bag, or a water bottle.

What solution do you use?

Most people said they use water. A handful reported using a saline mix, and some said they mixed another agent with water (e.g., rubbing alcohol, soap). Note: mixing anything into water besides a little bit of salt used for an enema is NOT recommended.

What advice do you have?

The community stepped up with some great advice for first-time douchers. By far the most commonly cited piece of advice was to be careful and take your time.

One person said that they allow 2 hours “before water to expel before play.” Another said that 15 – 30 minutes was sufficient, although most people said that you need at least an hour to complete a douching regimen and allow enough time for the water to exit your body before you leave the bathroom (or the close vicinity of a bathroom). “You don’t want to be 20 minutes into a date and realized you haven’t released everything,” warned one person.

Here are the other pieces of advice from the community:

  1. Use lube to lube up your butt hole and the stem of your enema bulb or tube before you stick it in.
  2. Use your fingers to clean yourself, too. (We’re guessing in the shower.)
  3. Double or triple check to prevent surprises. You can douche and then re-douche until the water runs clear.
  4. Warnings about shower douches (there were many). If you’re using a shower douche, keep the water pressure on “low.” Don’t spray too much water using a shower douche—it can cause discomfort. “Don’t spray your guts out, boo,” said one person. One person advised entirely against using a shower shot. “It’s too hard to figure out how much water is in you and how fast it’s going.”
  5. Don’t use hot water in your douche. Use lukewarm, body-temperature water.
  6. Don’t use soap in your douche.
  7. Don’t over-do it. “If it takes more than four sprays of water and you are still not clear, then maybe give it a break/give up. Or, just risk it and go with god,” one person said.
  8. Don’t douche too often/too much.
  9. Be mindful of what you eat hours before sex. A good diet can help a lot.
  10. Go gently, do it slowly. Not too deep and not too much.
  11. Practice, practice, practice. Learn your body. Try different methods until you find something that’s comfortable for you.
  12. Take a shower after douching.

And our favorite piece of advice: “Douche so you don’t feel self-conscious, but don’t get too much in your head if something happens anyway.”

A reminder to go easy, and pay attention to your body

Most respondents (77%) said they have never had any health problems caused by douching.

Yet some people reported experiencing the following problems caused by douching: Bleeding (8%), discomfort (7%), swelling (5%), pain (3%), tearing (1%). One person reported “shitting water in my pants,” after douching, and one person said they have felt stomach discomfort from douching.

Take your time when you douche to prevent these kinds of problems. Know your body and stop douching if you have any of these symptoms. See your medical provider if you do have issues and they don’t resolve in a day or so.

Douchie's Guide to Butt Health

Douchie brings butt health & happiness out of the closet so you can care for your butt in the way it deserves. Get info about everything from douching to fissures with this series on all things anal. Visit

About the author

Emily Land, MA

Emily Land, MA is a writer and the Vice President of Public Affairs at San Francisco AIDS Foundation.