News Release

New study on women’s anal pleasure shows there’s so much more than penetration

This large-scale study sheds light on women's actual lived experiences with anal sex, revealing previously unnamed, distinct behaviors many women discover to be pleasurable

Peer-Reviewed Publication


Indiana University and For Goodness Sake researchers conducted the first-ever, large-scale, probability sample study about the specific anal touch techniques that are pleasurable for women. The paper was published today, June 29, 2022, at PLOS ONE.

The researchers gathered discoveries from 4,270 women from around the world in surveys, conducted 1,000 one-on-one interviews, and analyzed the results to find themes and underlying patterns. Those shared patterns then informed this quantitative, nationally representative survey of 3017 women, ages 18-93.

A key finding:
‘Anal sex’ has long been narrowly defined as in-and-out penetration. But three previously unnamed, but distinct, anal touch techniques also emerged from the study that many women find pleasurable:

40% of women find ‘Anal Surfacing’ pleasurable: sexual touch on and around (not in) the anus.
35% of women find ‘Anal Shallowing’ pleasurable: touch just inside the anal opening, no deeper than a fingertip/knuckle.
40% of women find ‘Anal Pairing’ pleasurable: touch on or inside the anus at the same time as vaginal penetration or clitoral touch.

Why does this matter?
Clarity about the specific kinds of touch that feel good enables women to better identify their own preferences, communicate about them and advocate for them.
Specifically, acquiring more words for what you find pleasurable, and seeing you’re not alone but that those preferences are shared by lots of other women, has been shown to increase sexual agency, advocacy and pleasure.

More about the research group:

For Goodness Sake is an organization that believes human pleasure will lose its stigma, and that in the future, people will look back in disbelief at our traditions of sexual shame and unrealized pleasure. To pave the way for this future, in partnership with Indiana University and Kinsey Institute researchers, they conduct the first-ever large-scale nationally representative studies to uncover, name and describe the range of specific sexual practices women actually find pleasurable. They hope to replace the anecdotal sex–tips and slang sex-acts with truths from women’s collective experience. This knowledge is then provided freely to scientists, medical schools and clinicians and for a small fee to the public via the website,

Here is a fact sheet with more background and study findings, including diagrams and descriptions of the three techniques (caution, contains illustrations of the techniques!!)

Here is a link to the paper, published today in PLOS ONE, titled, Women’s techniques for pleasure from anal touch: results from a U.S. probability sample of women ages 18-93.

To request an interview or ask questions of the authors or the leadership at For Goodness Sake / OMGYES, email

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