Whether you’ve said it yourself, been the recipient of someone else saying so, or both, I need to clear up a seriously misguided and widely perpetuated myth: Medically speaking, there is no such thing as being too full to have sex. That is, sex after eating a big meal is absolutely possible and can be pleasurable, no matter what lies you’ve previously told yourself and others. And because the holiday season is upon us, complete with festive meals to enjoy during Zoom gatherings or with your quarantine pod, there’s no time like now to heed the reminder that you can have your cake and climax, too.
Below, an anal surgeon, gynecologist, and sex educator share details you need to know in order to debunk “the too full to have sex” myth once and for all.
You can’t be too full for vaginal or anal penetration
It’s basic biology. “The stomach and vagina are two separate, non-connected parts of the body,” says Felice Gersh, MD, author of PCOS SOS: A Gynecologist’s Lifeline To Naturally Restore Your Rhythms, Hormones and Happiness. Suggesting your stomach’s fullness has anything to do with the vagina’s capacity is as absurd as suggesting you can’t be hungry for dinner if your vagina is “full” with a tampon. (To be very clear: That is not a thing). “Penetrative vaginal sex with a penis or pleasure product does not become physically impossible after a big meal,” she adds.
“Penetrative vaginal sex with a penis or pleasure product does not become physically impossible after a big meal.” —Felice Gersh, MD
The same goes for anal sex, according to Evan Goldstein, DO, CEO and founder of Bespoke Surgical, which specializes in helping folks of all genders and sexualities engage in anal sex. No matter how full the stomach is with food being digested, room remains in the rectum. “The anal canal does not in any way get squished by the contents of the stomach,” he says. In other worlds, dildos, penises, and other toys can still be used for anal penetration, even if you’re seriously full after eating.
The one caveat? If you already feel like you need to go number two, you might want to hold off from partaking in anal penetration. “For the body to move food from the colon to the rectum, your body sends a signal to your brain that tells you that you need to go to the bathroom,” says Dr. Goldstein. But if you don’t feel that urgency, “you’ll probably be able to have anal mess-free,” he adds.
Even if it’s possible, is sex after eating a big meal comfortable?
“When we eat a big meal, we have to digest that big meal, and that takes a lot of energy,” says Dr. Gersh, who adds that the body isn’t necessarily programmed to expend energy on digestion and having sex simultaneously. “You may notice that while you’re digesting food, you don’t feel like you have enough energy for sex,” she says.
Furthermore, comfort (or lack thereof) does play in. “It is absolutely possible to eat to the point of being physically uncomfortable,” says body-positive pleasure expert Carly S., founder of Dildo or Dildon’t. “And if you’re physically uncomfortable, you may not want sex,” she says.
How to proceed if you’re full *and* in the mood
So, let’s say you’re aroused, but you are also uncomfortably full and aren’t turned on by the thought of penetrative sex at the moment. In this case, S. suggests trying non-penetrative sex acts, like oral sex, hand sex, dry humping, kissing, rimming, mutual masturbation, or scissoring, all of which might be more comfortable options.
You can also take things slowly and see how they go knowing that you can absolutely stop the show at any point. “If at any point in time, your stomach flips or you begin to feel uncomfortable, communicate that with your partner(s),” says S. “Starting sex is not a promise to continue having it until someone comes. You can stop it at any time.”
Ultimately, you may decide for any number of reasons to not have sex after eating a hearty meal—but being too uncomfortable to have sex is completely different than being physically incapable of it. The latter, pleasure-seekers, is really what’s not possible. So, let’s celebrate the choice to have sex—or not have sex—whenever we want, rather than falsely proclaiming that certain times and scenarios are off-limits.
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