• Thursday, September 29, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

Rise of anal sex leading to health problems for UK women

“It is no longer considered an extreme behaviour but increasingly portrayed as a prized and pleasurable experience.”

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By: Kimberly Rodrigues

Two NHS surgeons have warned that as a result of the growing popularity of anal sex among straight couples in the UK, women are suffering injuries and other health problems, as they are unaware of the risks involved, reports the Guardian.

Surgeons Tabitha Gana (a trainee colorectal surgeon in Yorkshire) and Lesley Hunt, (surgeon in Sheffield) have reportedly argued that women are being harmed by the practice due to doctors’ reluctance to discuss the risks associated with anal sex.

According to an article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) doctors have stated that the consequences of anal sex includes not only pain and bleeding (due to bodily trauma while engaging in the practice) but incontinence and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as well.

The doctors have also reportedly said, “Women are at a higher risk of incontinence than men because of their different anatomy and the effects of hormones, pregnancy and childbirth on the pelvic floor.

“Women have less robust anal sphincters and lower anal canal pressures than men, and damage caused by anal penetration is therefore more consequential.

“The pain and bleeding women report after anal sex is indicative of trauma, and risks may be increased if anal sex is coerced.”

The Guardian informs that the reason women seem to be aware of the risks involved in anal sex is because doctors (especially GPs and hospital doctors) don’t want to seem homophobic or judgmental by talking about the subject.

The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes research undertaken in the UK has found that over the recent decades, the proportion of 16- to 24-year-olds engaging in heterosexual anal intercourse has increased from 12.5% to 28.5%. Similarly, in the US 30% to 45% of both sexes have experienced it, the Guardian states.

Hunt, and Gana reportedly wrote in the BMJ, “It is no longer considered an extreme behaviour but increasingly portrayed as a prized and pleasurable experience.”

They added, “Anal intercourse is considered a risky sexual behaviour because of its association with alcohol, drug use and multiple sex partners.”

However, “within popular culture it has moved from the world of pornography to mainstream media” and TV shows including Sex and the City and Fleabag may have furthered the trend by making it seem “racy and daring.”

The BMJ report also stated that women who engage in anal sex are at greater risk from anal sex than men. “Increased rates of faecal incontinence and anal sphincter injury have been reported in women who have anal intercourse.”

“Women are at a higher risk of incontinence than men because of their different anatomy and the effects of hormones, pregnancy and childbirth on the pelvic floor.

“Women have less robust anal sphincters and lower anal canal pressures than men, and damage caused by anal penetration is therefore more consequential.

“The pain and bleeding women report after anal sex is indicative of trauma, and risks may be increased if anal sex is coerced,” they explained.

The surgeons have also reportedly complained that the NHS patient information about the risks of anal sex is incomplete – it only cites STIs, and makes “no mention of anal trauma, incontinence or the psychological aftermath of the coercion young women report in relation to this activity.

“However, with such a high proportion of young women now having anal sex, failure to discuss it when they present with anorectal symptoms exposes women to missed diagnoses, futile treatments and further harm arising from a lack of medical advice,” the surgeons said.

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH), has also reportedly backed the surgeons’ call for doctors to talk openly about anal sex to their female patients.

Claudia Estcourt, a professor of sexual health and HIV and member of the BASHH is quoted as saying, “We are highly skilled in assessment of women with possible sexually caused anal trauma, whether through consensual or non-consensual sex, and would encourage women with concerns to contact their local sexual health clinic or sexual assault service as appropriate.”

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