To get to the bottom of topping, we’ve asked board-certified urologist and sexual health expert, Dr. Joshua Gonzalez, to write a guest blog for Future Method on the ins and outs of penetration. Along with co-founder and fellow urologist, Dr. Brian Steixner, Dr. Gonzalez created the wildly popular Popstar supplement, which can enhance the sexual experience for tops, bottoms and everyone in-between. Whether you’re an OG top from way back or you’re a noob who’s top-curious, keep reading to learn how you can stay on top of your topping game.
What is Topping?
We’re so glad you asked! During sexual intercourse, the term top is used to describe the person doing the penetration while the term bottom is used to describe the person who’s being penetrated. These terms are most often used to describe anal sex between gay men, but anyone of any sexual orientation or gender identity can be considered a top or a bottom in a consensual sexual relationship.
Topping and bottoming can refer to anal sex, vaginal sex or oral sex, and penetration is not limited to the penis. You can be considered a top if you’re using your fingers or sex toys as well. Tops don’t even actually have to be on top. You can top from the bottom or bottom from the top. Often, this is a good way to experiment with topping because your partner can sit on top of you and control the position, speed and depth of penetration, so that you can see exactly what feels good to them.
Being a top can also be a social signifier or a vibe, so to speak. Being a top can mean that you’re the dominant one, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Sometimes bottoms are the assertive ones in a sexual relationship while tops can take a submissive role. And you don’t have to be exclusively top or bottom. You can be both!
Getting ready for anal sex actually begins way before you and your partner even get to the bedroom. For bottoms, a healthy diet that’s high in fiber and includes lots of lean meats, fruits, vegetables and leafy greens can help completely evacuate the bowels so that anal sex is less messy. If needed, bottoms can also use Future Method, a safe and effective anal douche that rids the rectum of any remaining fecal matter.
For tops, we also recommend staying hydrated, eating healthy and exercising regularly because better health means better sex in general. But to really take your topping to the next level, we like to recommend our Popstar supplement. Popstar uses scientifically proven ingredients from organic, non-GMO sources to increase semen volume and improve taste. Bigger loads and better taste can increase sexual pleasure and provide a better sexual experience for both tops and bottoms.
If you’re new to topping, it can also be helpful to have a conversation with your partner before you get all hot and heavy. This is a great time to talk about your expectations, your desires and your boundaries. It’s also important to talk about HIV status and STI history. Those aren’t the most fun conversations to have but getting everything out in the open early can enable you to be free and clear of worries when it’s time to get down to business.
OK. It’s time. You’ve taken your Popstar, you’ve eaten your kale salads, you’re in the bedroom with your partner and you’re ready to go. While you’re probably in a hurry to get to the main event (and who could blame you), you’ll want to take it slow when you first start. A good top will make sure that their bottom is properly relaxed and warmed up both physically and emotionally.
Start by slowly stimulating your partner with gentle touching, kissing, licking or any other method of foreplay you prefer. Increasing sexual arousal is an important step that’s needed to release muscle tension and increase blood flow to the sphincter and pelvic floor muscles. This is a good time to bring out the lube as well. Unlike the vagina, the anus doesn’t self-lubricate, so using a good lube is extremely important. Not only does lube help to increase sexual pleasure, but it also reduces the chance of tears and injury.
When it comes to lubrication, spit does not cut it, so don’t use it. Silicone lube is a good choice, but it can stain sheets and damage some toys so use it carefully. If you’re using silicone toys or if you’re unsure if your toys are silicone-lube-safe, stick to a water-based lube instead. Whichever lubricant you choose, make sure you and your partner reapply as many times as needed. Say it with us… There’s no such thing as too much lube!
If you’re not a fellow urologist, you might not know what’s going on up there in the butt, but it’s kind of a lot, so having a little bit of an understanding of anatomy can go a long way toward helping you navigate this delicate area. You may have heard of the anal sphincter, but what you may not know is that there are actually three sphincters. The external sphincter is made of two sets of sphincter muscles that are considered voluntary muscles. The internal sphincter is a non-voluntary third set of muscles further up into the rectum.
When you get to each of these muscle sets, you will feel tightening or resistance. It’s important not to barrel through these like a runaway truck. Be aware of them, feel for them and when you encounter them, pull out, reapply lubricant and try again. It can take multiple attempts at gentle probing before you can get these muscles to relax enough for repeat thrusting. Talking through this process with your partner can help if you’re having difficulty feeling for these areas on your own.
Another area of the anatomy to keep in mind is the prostate gland, also known as the G-spot in people who were born with penises. The prostate is a gland that’s located at the front of the rectum between the bladder and the penis. It’s about the size of a walnut and can be responsible for some intense sexual sensation when it’s stimulated in the right way. However, in certain positions, a top’s penis may be angled in a way that causes pain instead of pleasure. To avoid prostate pain or any kind of pain, it helps to go slowly and to communicate continuously.
We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again – communicate with your bottom! A simple, “Does this feel good?” may be all it takes to make sure that both parties are having a good time. Pay attention to your partner’s physical cues as well. If you feel them tensing up, see them wincing or feel that they’re moving away from you, it could signal that they’re uncomfortable in some way. If you take away one piece of advice from this article, make it be this one – the more you listen to your bottom, the better top you’ll be.
When it comes right down to it, one of the best ways to learn how to top is to be a bottom. Putting yourself in your partner’s position (literally) will help you to understand what they’re feeling when you’re inside them. Shared experience creates a great foundation for empathy, and it can be fun to experience sex from another point of view. Even if you are a born top in every sense of the term, it can be a truly freeing experiment to give up that control and surrender yourself to the experience.
Being a kind and conscientious top can enhance the experience for your bottom in many ways. Not only will it be more pleasurable physically, but a generous and giving top can also make a bottom feel safe and secure. As we all know, physical pleasure can be ruined or heightened depending on the state of mind that you’re in. Ask your bottom what they need. From changing positions to helping clean up, there are unlimited ways that you can be gracious before, during and after sex.
Play It Safe
OK, so you knew it was coming. You really can’t have a conversation about sex in general and anal sex in particular without talking about sexual health and safety. In addition to having a conversation with your partner about HIV status and STI history, there are also precautions that you can take to keep yourself safe. Condoms are your first line of defense. Buy them often. Carry them with you. Use them every time. Always.
That being said, we don’t live in a perfect world, and we’re not perfect people. If condoms fail for one reason or another, there are also other preventative measures you can take to keep yourself safe from taking away something other than a rosy glow from your sexual escapades. One option is a once-daily HIV prevention medication known as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) that you can take prior to sex to reduce your risk of contracting HIV.
If you’ve already had unprotected sex and you think you may have been exposed to HIV, there’s medication that you can take after intercourse called Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) that can reduce your chances of contracting HIV. If your status is already positive, make sure you take your medication as prescribed so that the virus remains at undetectable levels in your bloodstream. People with HIV who achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load by taking antiretroviral therapy daily as prescribed cannot sexually transmit the virus to others.
Are You Ready?
We think you are. Keep these tips top-of-mind and go for it. If you try Popstar or Future Method as part of your prep work, make sure to write a review to let us know how it went. Until next time, happy topping and bottoms up!