Anal Beads vs. Butt Plugs: Learn All the Naunces About Each

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Last updatedLast updated: June 21, 2024
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With the ongoing pandemic, more people are experimenting with vibrators and anal sex toys on their own due to the restrictions on social activities, or with their partners on lockdown. As with any other device, it is important to know how it works so you can operate it safely. We have reviewed the difference between anal beads vs butt plugs to help you understand how each of them achieves anal stimulation.

Apart from their shape, they also vary in their design, mechanism and features which we have explained in detail in this guide. Besides that, they differ in how you can use them and how they feel. Once you have understood the comparison and factored in your personal kinks and desires, you will be in a better position to understand whether to choose anal beads vs butt plugs.

Anal beads

Anal beads, dildos and butt plugs are all popular anal toys. However, anal beads arouse different areas on the rectum when you move them in and out while butt plugs stimulate the prostate and sensitive anal walls simply by insertion.

What is it?

Some people have likened the chained appearance of the spheres to a pearl necklace. Anal beads are spheres embedded or connected to a flexible wand made of silicone, glass or metal, with a few starter models featuring independent spheres on a nylon string since nylon is flexible. The wand has a ring at the base that serves as a handle to tug them out, or a flared base that doubles up as a stopper to prevent the anal beads from disappearing inside.

The spheres may have irregular shapes or different sizes to increase stimulation as the beads progress deeper into the rectum. The first beads on the end you insert are the smaller ones in spheres that progress in size while the larger ones are positioned at the bottom.

The nylon anal beads generate different sensations from the rest and they are not reusable, unlike the other anal beads which can be washed and reused.

Anal beads are inserted in the rectum gradually and then moved in and out at various angles and speed to massage and stimulate different erogenous zones, then extracted when having an orgasm or just before climax. The anal opening with sphincter muscles has several nerve endings which are stimulated as you remove the beads. Experienced users can intensify sensations by moving the beads at a higher speed.

What types exist?

Anal beads are available in different designs. Some come with beads of the same size while others sport graduated sizes that increase as they move up. The number of beads also may also vary from 3 or 4 beads in small toys that are ideal for novices to long anal toys with 15 spheres or large beads.

Sex toys, especially penetrative ones, should be made of safe material to avoid allergies, infections and damage. Silicone is a common choice. It is waterproof, easy to clean and the smooth and soft texture feels comfortable on your skin. It also works with oil-based and water-based lubricants, and can be cleaned with warm water and mild soap since it is non-porous.
Glass beads are easy to clean and you can warm them before insertion. Their downside is their fragility which makes them break easily.

Avoid anal beads with cheap nylon strings that will only serve you for few sessions and look for reusable material to save on costs. Anal beads made of jelly are porous, so it is not possible for you to fully disinfect them. This predisposes you to infections caused by accumulation of bacteria.

Some anal beads vibrate to amplify the sensations. They come with adjustable settings that include different speed and vibration patterns that you can explore to find your groove. Other options include models with rotating steel balls, inflatable anal beads, and beads that can be inserted individually or in a single motion.

Use lube to prevent chaffing and allow for comfortable insertion. Confirm the type of lubricant that is compatible with your specific model to avoid damage.

Oil-based lubricants are thicker and slippery, which makes them ideal for anal play. They are great for butt plugs that are wearable because you don’t have to reapply the lube. Water-based lubricants are considered a safer option but their low viscosity necessitates constant application.

Look for a waterproof material like glass and silicone if you might be using your anal beads in bathtubs and swimming pools.

Are they suitable for beginners?

If you are just making your foray into anal play, we suggest buying anal beads of varied sizes to experiment on your own. This is convenient because beginners can use the smaller beads to relax the sphincter muscle in preparation for anal sex, and gradually increase the depth as they become comfortable with the larger beads. Extracting the beads too fast or hard will cause pain and damage the thin inner walls.

Anal beads may be used for solo play or with a partner. Insert them during intercourse for vaginal and anal stimulation. Remember to generously apply a water-based lube or approved lubricants to the rectum and on the beads for smooth insertion.

You will also need to consider the type of material used to ensure it is flexible, reusable, comfortable and easy to clean.

Pros and cons

Versatile application: They can be used to stimulate the vagina, anus, prostate, and even G-spot indirectly. They have more varied sizes and designs that make them suitable for both beginners and the experienced alike. You can buy a sizeable anal bead with small and large beads that graduate in size so you can insert them at your desired depth and girth. This is handy because you can use the small beads to stretch the sphincter muscle and use the conjoined larger ones over time instead of buying a new model with large or more beads. Some also have vibrating function to enhance your experience.

Flexible: A good number of people prefer butt plugs for their first anal toy because they are simple to use, even in public. However, anal beads would make a better choice since they are flexible and you can control the depth and girth of penetration. On the other hand, butt plugs have to be properly inserted to generate the pressure required for anal stimulation and to prevent them from falling out. This can be uncomfortable for you if you chose the wrong size of butt plug.

Similarly to butt plugs, they can be used for foreplay, solo play, or during intercourse for a blended orgasm. You can achieve an intense orgasm if you pull out the beads at the right time; just before or during climax.

BUT no hand-free operation: You can wear a butt plug and enjoy the stimulation as you go about your daily activities. However, anal beads massage your anal walls by repeated in-and-out motion. This means you have to operate the toy unless you have a partner.

Butt plug

While anal beads use back and forth motion to stimulate, butt plugs arouse you through pressure when you insert it. They are ranked the second most popular sex toys after dildos.

Butt plugs are tear-shaped toys that are inserted in the rectum for anal and prostate stimulation. They feature a tapered base and work by applying pressure to arouse the sensitive nerve endings on the sphincter.

What is it?

Butt plugs are used to stretch the sphincter muscles and relax them in preparation for anal sex. They feature a tapered tip and a wide base that prevents the toy from getting lost inside. These anal toys come in a variety of designs and sizes so you can choose your preferred length and girth.

Butt plugs stimulate the sensitive nerve endings on the anal sphincter as well as the prostate. They achieve this by applying pressure that produces a “full” sensation when the butt plug is properly inserted. Butt plugs may also indirectly stimulate the G-spot which is one of the erogenous zones that are aroused by firm pressure.

What types exist?

Butt plugs are available in different sizes and shapes. They feature a tear shape in most cases, and there are vibrating butt plugs as well as models that inflate or come with ridges and ribs for optimal stimulation. You will also find butt plugs of varied girth and length to accommodate a wide range of users.

As is often the case with most sex toys, silicone is the material that is commonly used for its sturdiness, flexibility and ease of cleaning. Additionally, it is unmatched in comfort due to its soft and silky smooth texture.

The next popular material you are likely to find in butt plugs is glass because it has an elegant design and generates less friction on the skin and would reduce chances of chaffing. However, we don’t recommend them for beginners because they shatter easily due to their fragility. An advantage of glass plugs is that you can warm them up before insertion. This also applies to stainless steel which is used in butt plugs since it is resistant to chipping and lasts long. Glass retains heat more effectively than stainless steel.

The different types of materials will determine the best type of lube to apply to avoid damaging your butt plug. Water-based lubricants are compatible with various materials. However, you have to contend with reapplying lube constantly because it dries up fast. For this reason, you may want to choose a butt plug that is compatible with oil-based lubes which are thicker, slipperier and last for an extended period. This would allow you to have them inserted when carrying out your daily routines or when you’re in public.

Butt plugs are applicable in a number of sex scenarios, including during intercourse and oral sex. The models designed to also target the G-spot and P-spot feature a slightly curved end for indirect and localized stimulation respectively.

Are they suitable for beginners?

Since butt plugs vary in size, beginners may choose a smaller and thinner model with a tapered tip to train the anal canal for penetration and then graduate to larger and thicker sizes as the sphincter muscles relax.

When choosing the best butt plug, look for a broad base that will prevent further insertion up the rectum.

You may use a butt plug for masturbation, foreplay or when having oral or penetrative vaginal sex.

Before insertion, apply a decent amount of lube on the toy itself and in your rectum to prevent pain and damage to the thin anal walls. The plug should remain in position without falling out if you have inserted it correctly.

As a safety precaution, avoid having the butt plug in for prolonged periods, especially while sleeping. We have established that butt plugs use pressure to arouse. Unfortunately, there are areas along the rectum where there are no pain receptors. This means that if you were to insert a butt plug that applies too much pressure or friction that causes pain, you may not notice it until morning. The wide base pressing against the tender walls for extended periods may result to restricted blood circulation, anal fissure, ulcers and rectal damage.

Medical experts recommend wearing a butt plug for maximum period of 2 to 3 hours for intermediate users. If you’re a newbie, you can start off with a few minutes and progress gradually. Some experienced users exceed the 3-hour period although it is not advisable.

Pros and cons

Extended pleasure: Experienced users may have a butt plug inserted for up to 3 hours without it interfering with their regular routines. You would be sore if you were to use anal beads for that long.

Hands-free operation: Once you have inserted a butt plug, you don’t need to do anything else for it to arouse you. This frees your hands to stimulate other erogenous zones. For instance, you can enjoy double penetration with a butt plug inserted during intercourse, or have it in place while receiving oral sex.

BUT they come in single size: Anal beads feature wands with spheres of graduating size that can introduce you to anal toys and still be useful as your muscles relax to accommodate the larger beads. Comparatively, butt plugs come in a singular size that cannot be adjusted, so you may have to buy a new one to upgrade the size over time.

Difference in sensations

Butt plugs apply constant firm pressure on the rectal wall and perineum to massage and stimulate those zones. This results into a feeling of fullness that is pleasurable.

Anal beads work by massaging you through motion when they are inserted and extracted repetitiously.

So, which to choose?

In this section, we are going to explore various sex scenarios and recommended the better option between anal beads vs butt plugs for these circumstances. Both of them have their pros and cons which we have explained below so you can make an informed decision.

If you’re a beginner


If you are new in this, you would be better suited by a small-sized beginner butt plug that you can operate with little learning curve. You could also be favored by a budget-friendly anal toy that you can use to train your sphincter muscles before upgrading to a premium model. On this basis, butt plugs provide better anal toys for beginners.

User-friendliness: Butt plugs are not complicated to use. You only need to choose the right size, use plenty of lube and fit in the insertable length of the butt plug to make sure it is secured in the right position.  On the other hand, you have to move the anal beads in and out for stimulation, and extract them at the point of climax for a mind-blowing orgasm. According to users, the harder you extract them, the more intense the orgasm. This may intimidate beginners.

Ideal for beginners: This simplicity also makes butt plugs the most common toy for anal preparation. You can leave it for a few minutes while a newbie and increase the duration as you advance as long as you stick to the recommended limit.

If you’re experienced enough

The mechanism behind how anal beads work to stimulate different erogenous zones may initially confuse newbies. It is not just the insertion process with beads of increasing size but also the tricky extraction process which should be timed correctly for an explosive orgasm. Experienced users can choose from long wands with several large or irregular-shaped beads, inflatable and vibrating functions, and varied speed and patterns such as rotating beads. Anal beads provide more diverse options for different role plays. The graduating bead size design also extends usability of anal beads compared to butt plugs which are outgrown quickly.

If you want to use it during an intercourse

The great advantage of both anal beads and butt plugs is that you can use them when having sex with your partner. The suitability of the type of toy will depend on the type of sex. To illustrate this, you can receive or give oral sex in the 69 sex position while operating the anal beads for your partner or with a butt plug in position. However, it would be inconvenient to use anal beads during intercourse because the penis and the beads use similar in-and-out motion to stimulate, and the close proximity of the vagina and anal opening makes it difficult to do both simultaneously. For intercourse, a butt plug would be preferable. It is inserted in the rectum and does not need any movement to stimulate you so it stays out of the way when having intercourse. b-Vibe Rechargeable Butt Plug Set  consists of 3 butt plugs of various sizes for long-term use, anal douche, zipped bag and a guide to anal play that will be an asset to newbies.

A few words about safety

Choose the right size to avoid pain and overstretching of anal muscles. Do not insert butt plugs for lengthy periods or sleep with them in since you can’t immediately respond to any discomfort or pain.

Confirm that there is a handle or base for convenient removal of the anal beads and butt plugs.

Look for safe materials that are non-allergen and easy to clean, and avoid sharing sex toys to prevent infections.

Lube well before using the anal beads or butt plugs to reduce friction.

Final thoughts

Anal beads and butt plugs spice up your sex life by working on their own or along with other sex toys during masturbation, foreplay or intercourse. You can choose from different sizes, designs, material and adjustable settings to diversify your experience. Use the sex toy as instructed to avoid damaging it and for your own safety.

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