What Is Rimming?

A type of oral sex that involves stimulating the anus

Rimming—also known as analingus, anilingus, or a "rim job"—is a form of oral sex in which the mouth, lips, and tongue are used to stimulate a partner's anus. It is referred to as "rimming" because it largely involves the kissing or licking of the outer edge (rim) of the anus. Rimming may also involve penetrating a partner's anus with the tongue.

Rimming can be enjoyed by all genders and sexual orientations. Even so, there are risks associated with the rimming, including the passing of certain bacterial or parasitic infections through contact with feces ("poop"). Several sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can also be spread through oral-anal contact.

This article explains what rimming is, including the anatomy of the anus and the possible risks associated with this common sexual practice.

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Anatomy of the Anus

The anus is a roughly one-inch opening where the gastrointestinal (digestive) tract ends. It is located at the end of the last six inches of the large intestine known as the rectum.

The anus is a complex organ populated with nerves, tissues, and muscles (both voluntary and involuntary) that work in coordination to help evacuate poop from the body.

Anal Sphincters

Sphincters are circular muscles that open and close to regulate the passage of substances through the body. These include substances like food (esophageal sphincters), urine (urethral sphincters), and feces (anal sphincters).

The anal sphincter consists of an involuntary internal sphincter muscle that keeps the anus closed to prevent poop from leaking out. The external anal sphincter muscle is voluntary and can be clenched and unclenched to help push feces from the body.

Pudendal Nerve

The pudendal nerve is a major nerve group located in the pelvis. It sends nerves signals from the genitals and anus to the brain and plays a central role in your ability to defecate (poop) and urinate (pee).

The pudendal nerve also provides sensory information about touch, pleasure, pain, and temperature to the penis, vagina, clitoris, scrotum, labia, vulva, perineum (the area between the anus and genital), and anal canal.

Physiology and Practice of Rimming 

The pudendal nerve enables the sexual stimulation of reproductive organs like the penis and vagina. Since branches of the pudendal nerve also service the anus and perineum, licking, kissing, or fingering these non-reproductive structures can also lead to sexual arousal. This is why so many people find rimming so pleasurable.

Rimming is a common sexual practice. While many people associated it with men who have sex with men (MSM), people who identify as heterosexual regularly engage in rimming.

According to a 2021 survey conducted by the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre in Australia, 25.5% of heterosexual males and 9.3% of heterosexual females reported performing rimming on a sex partner within the past three months.

Risks and Safety of Rimming

As pleasurable as rimming can be, there are certain risks associated with the practice. This not only includes the risk of certain STIs but also bacterial viral, and parasitics infections you can get by ingesting even trace amounts of a partner's feces.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

As with other types of oral sex, there is no risk of pregnancy associated with rimming. However, rimming may expose someone to a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Some of the STIs that can be transmitted by rimming include:

STIs like syphilis and herpes can pass through contact with open sores and ulcers. Herpes and HPV can also be passed through skin-to-skin contact.

There are several key ways to prevent getting an STI through rimming:

  • Limit your number of sex partners.
  • Use dental dams (thin squares of latex that act as a barrier between the mouth and anus).
  • Avoid rimming if there are sores, warts, lesions, bleeding, or oozing of any sort from the anus.
  • Do not rim someone if you have a cold sore.
  • Ask your partner in advance if they've been tested for STIs.

Bacterial, Viral, and Parasitic Infections

Rimming also carries the risk of infections from bacteria, parasites, and viruses that pass through the anus during defecation (also known as the fecal-oral route).

Among the infections you can get via the fecal-oral route are:

Many of the same precautions used to prevent STIs can also apply to these fecal-oral infections. In addition:

  • Maintain good personal hygiene by taking a bath or a shower before sex.
  • Use an antibacterial soap to clean the anal area.
  • Consider anal douching (flushing the rectum with water) before sex.
  • Avoid rimming if you or your partner has diarrhea or any signs of a gastrointestinal infection.

Summary

Rimming is a sexual practice in which the mouth, lips, and tongue are used to sexually stimulate a partner's anus. It is a common practice for both males and females and people of different sexual orientations.

Rimming can be pleasurable but pose certain risks. STIs like herpes, syphilis, and HPV can be readily passed through rimming, You can also get bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections (like dysentery, hepatitis A, and intestinal worms) through the fecal-oral route.

A reduction in your number of sex partners, the consistent use of dental dams, and other safer sex practices can help reduce your risk of infection when performing or receiving a "rim job."

A Word From Verywell

Rimming is another sexual activity that people can enjoy with their partners, but not everyone will be comfortable with it. Those who want to try rimming should have an open and honest conversation with their partners to gauge their interest and comfort level. It's also important to discuss protection beforehand to minimize infection risks.

There are many different ways to enjoy rimming, and there is no right or wrong way to do it. Communication is key to finding out what works and what doesn't in each case.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is rimming?

    Rimming is slang for oral-anal sex (also known as analingus or anilingus). It involves the stimulation of a sexual partner's anus with the tongue, lips, teeth, or mouth.

  • What are the risks of rimming?

    Rimming can cause the transmission of sexually transmitted infections as well as diseases spread by the fecal-oral route, including:

  • Can you make rimming safer?

    To reduce the risk of infection, use a dental dam. Dental dams are latex or polyurethane squares you can buy at drugstores that serve as a barrier between the mouth and the anus. In a pinch, you can make a dental dam by cutting open an external condom or using cling wrap from the kitchen.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Phillips TR, Constantinou H, Fairley CK, et al. Oral, vaginal and anal sexual practices among heterosexual males and females attending a sexual health clinic: a cross-sectional survey in Melbourne, Australia. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Dec 1;18(23):12668. doi:10.3390/ijerph182312668

  2. UK National Health Service [NHS]. Does anal sex have any health risks?

  3. Kumar T, Puri G, Avarinda K, Arora N, Patil D, Gupta R. Oral sex and oral health; an enigma in itself. Indian J Sex Transm Dis AIDS. 2015:36(2):129-132. doi:10.4103/0253-7184.167133

By S. Nicole Lane
S. Nicole Lane is a freelance health journalist focusing on sexual health and LGBTQ wellness. She is also the editorial associate for the Chicago Reader.