Examining Heterosexual Women's Anal Sexual Health Knowledge and Product Use

J Sex Res. 2019 Oct;56(8):1070-1082. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2018.1467368. Epub 2018 May 10.


Prevalence rates indicate that receptive anal sex is increasingly part of heterosexual women's sexual repertoire. However, there is a body of literature linking this behavior to risk for adverse sexual health outcomes. Women's anal sexual health knowledge and awareness of behaviors associated with elevated risk have received less attention in the research literature. The aim of the current study was to examine anal sexual health knowledge and product use among heterosexual women aged 18 to 30 years. A total of 33 self-identified heterosexual women recruited from the general population participated in one of six focus groups. The results suggest that knowledge was variable. Salient sexual health themes centered on risks of human immunodeficiency virus/sexually transmitted infections (HIV/STIs), other infections, and physical harm/damage. Product-use themes included cleanliness/hygiene, comfort, and product safety. Participants expressed the desire for anal sexual health education. The results have implications for sexual health research, education, and clinical practice.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Feminine Hygiene Products*
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Heterosexuality*
  • Humans
  • Hygiene*
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexual Health*
  • Young Adult