A butt plug is a sex toy that is designed to be inserted into the rectum for sexual pleasure. They are similar to a dildo in some ways but tend to be shorter and have a flanged end to prevent the device from being lost inside the rectum.
Rectal dilators were originally designed for therapeutic uses and later marketed with terms such as Dr. Young's Ideal Rectal Dilators, which were marketed as a cure for insanity and constipation. In the late 20th century, similar devices started to be marketed as sex toys.
Unlike the vagina, which is closed off by the cervix, the rectum leads to the sigmoid colon. Objects that are inserted into the rectum can therefore potentially travel up into the bowel; the flared end on a butt plug exists to prevent this. Some dildos lack a flared end, and thus it is ill-advised to use such dildos anally since they may get stuck; rectal foreign bodies may require medical extraction.
In addition, the lower bowel above the rectum is easily perforated. For this reason, butt plugs tend to be shorter than dildos, and their marked size generally indicates the circumference of the device rather than the length. They must also be very smooth to avoid damaging the rectum or bowel. In order to get them into the rectum, they most commonly have a general profile of a round-ended cone which then narrows to a "waist" which locates itself at the anal sphincter, with the flared part outside the body, preventing the butt plug from slipping further into the body. The sphincter muscle will hold the plug in place by the waist, preventing the plug from slipping out unintentionally.
Butt plugs are sometimes covered by condoms for hygiene and to allow for the easy disposal of any feces with which they may come into contact. Nevertheless, they should not be shared with other people, due to the risk of transmitting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, from the transfer of body fluids from one person to another.
Butt plugs come in a variety of colors, shapes, sizes, and textures. Some are designed to look like penises, while some are ribbed or wavy. The majority, however, are shaped as shown in the picture above, having a thin tip which is wider in the middle, a notch to hold it in place once it is inserted, and a flared base to prevent complete insertion into the rectum. Some plugs are designed (long, flexible and curved) to penetrate the sigmoid colon.
Butt plugs are made of a variety of materials, the most common being latex. Other materials used include silicone, neoprene, wood, metal, glass, stone, and many other materials. Silicone is a particularly good material, as it can be disinfected in boiling water.
There are butt plugs that "ejaculate" by squirting water or other viscous fluids into the rectum. There are also vibrating butt plugs, and butt plugs that can inflate and expand. Some butt plugs are specifically designed for men and stimulate the prostate. Other butt plugs are manufactured with long hair or simulated animal tails attached to the base for use in human pony play or other animal fantasy role play. Butt plugs are also available that incorporate erotic electro-stimulation. Butt plugs can be moved in or out for pleasure; for this type of activity ribbed butt plugs can increase pleasure. They can also be worn continuously (or be lockable) for long periods of time.
Fetish plugs are butt plugs that are designed in a way to be unusual, exciting, or unique in some way. A fetish plug is called such because it caters to sexual fetishes.
A common type of fetish plugs is the butt plug with faux animal tail. The animal tail, usually made with fake fur, is attached to the non-insertable end of the plug so that when worn or inserted, the impression is given that the wearer has an animal's tail. Some "tail" butt plugs popular in human puppy play are molded from medical grade silicone allowing a simulated tail "wag".
Sex toys that are used in the anus can easily get lost as rectal muscles contract and can suck an object up and up, potentially obstructing the colon; to prevent this from occurring, it is recommended that individuals use sex toys with a flared base or a string. However, the flared flange is not a foolproof method of preventing the plug from entering the rectum completely with the inability to retrieve it. This is uncomfortable and may require medical intervention. Butt plugs of excess diameter can, especially when inserted too rapidly and/or too forcefully, lead to sphincter tear, detachment or other rectal failure. Kegel exercises can help maintain normal, healthy sphincter function. When inserting a butt plug, one should be gentle, use plenty of lubrication, start with smaller sizes, and exercise patience. While medical data is sparse, some recommend not leaving a butt plug inserted for longer than two to three hours.
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- " There are no good research studies that evaluate the short or long-term effects of using butt plugs... short-term use probably is not much different than bowel movements, anal sex, or medical procedures. Long-term use, however, probably is." Mark P. Behar, PA-C quoted in Shepard Express "More on Wearing Anal Plugs Long Term" http://shepherdexpress.com/article-permalink-12522.html
- Taormino, Tristan (2006). The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women, 2nd Edition. Cleis Press. ISBN 9781573442213.
- Morin PhD, Jack (2010). Anal Pleasure and Health: A Guide for Men, Women and Couples. Down There Press. ISBN 978-0940208209.