Remember when you first discovered you could stick all kinds of things up your holes? Good times, eh? Rummaging around your bedroom looking for anything that might be suitable for insertion, eventually you figured out that some things were better than others. Popsicles bad. (That's actually a friend's story, not mine) Vegetable matter good. (Though preferably oblong and at room temperature.)
I'm sure many of you are cringing at your own memories right now. And while some are content to stick to smaller things (the size, say, of a digit or two), others have more of a "bigger is better" mentality and prefer something, say, the size of a fist. Or an actual fist. And forearm.
Though it's often associated with the queer community, heteros fist, too. And fans of handballing, both anal and vaginal, say it can be an amazing experience for both fister and fistee.
Some say it's actually the ultimate connection and get all trippy and spiritual about it. Great. Go for it. But for god's sake, be careful. That is some seriously delicate plumbing.
Folks who rely on poppers, or alkyl nitrites, to relax the muscle tissue, should be aware that they're fisting in dangerous territory. This stuff might be legal but can be deadly if you're not careful.
What the experts say
"Fisting represents a really profound connection between the two people involved. Both the fister and fistee have to be really present in their bodies. The fister in particular has to really read the other person's body . You're seeing or reading with your fist. Obviously, you need to communicate , verbally if necessary. But often verbal communication can interrupt the experience. The more you can trust that you're communicating with the body, the more flowing and organic the experience is going to be. Feel if she/he is taking you in and letting go, or if there is resistance. She/he is communicating with the amount of tension being held in her/his body."
Marta Helliesen , sex therapist, New York City
"With anal fisting there is danger of tearing the sphincter or perforating the rectum. If people are under the influence of alcohol and or drugs, they're not as sensitive to pain, so they don't get the normal warning of 'This really hurts. You have to stop doing that.' Or if the person doing it gets carried away and is overly vigorous, damage can be done. Sometimes it's done in sado-masochistic practices, where people don't see pain is an indication to stop. If there is a rupture and feces gets into the peritoneal cavity, you can develop a very bad infection. If the rupture involves tearing a blood vessel, the person can hemorrhage to death. There's also the danger of sexually transmitted diseases if somebody is fisting with more than one person and takes the fist from one person's rectum and puts it into another without washing or putting on a clean gloves . You need to have a very clear safe word . The person doing it should trim his or her fingernails ."
Brian Cornelson , HIV primary care physician, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto
"Poppers actually relax the smooth muscle tissue by opening up all the blood vessels, and that can lower your blood pressure. If you're using any other blood pressure medication, you could be at risk of heart attack or stroke. Combining poppers with Viagra is extremely dangerous, because they both work to lower blood pressure. The liquid is highly flammable, so if you're smoking a cigarette while having sex you could potentially set yourself on fire. You definitely don't want to be swallowing poppers. Keep them away from the skin."
Nick Boyce , gay men's harm reduction coordinator, AIDS Committee of Toronto
"For people who are coming to this from a loving, caring place, [fisting] is the ultimate intimacy. You are more deeply submerged in each other than in any other kind of sex act. It's not just the fist, but can involve the whole forearm. The more deeply immersed you are in each other, the more oneness you feel. Most of it is actually done with an open hand, and a hand is far more able to create a reaction than a penis, because there is great variety of things it can do, while a penis is basically a dumb instrument. A much greater artistry and range of sensation can be created. There is some pain in all kinds of sex, but the amount of pain involved in fisting depends on how relaxed and ready the receiving partner is."
Bert Herrman , author, Trust: A Hand Book, A Guide To The Spiritual And Sensual Art of Handballing
"We always recommend using a lube with a thicker consistency for any kind of play involving fists, toys, bums or whenever you need a lube to stay where you put it. Most of the more liquidy lubes tend to spread easily and won't do as good a job of coating the fist, which will ultimately create more friction between the fist and the vagina/anus. Fortunately, many lubes are available in liquid and gel form. Slippery Stuff Gel is a great option: it has very few ingredients and stays good and thick during play. Maximus is also nice - it doesn't get tacky like some other lubes do. For anal fisting specifically, we often recommend Eros silicone lube. Eros is incredibly slippery and will never get sticky during play, and because it's silicone-based, it won't dehydrate like most water-based lubes.
Gillian Lamon , Come as You Are, Toronto