Though its practice is frequently assumed to be confined to the gay male population, anal intercourse appears to be more popular than possibly expected among heterosexual couples under 45, according to a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report.
The report, titled "Sexual Behavior, Sexual Attraction and Sexual Identity in the United States," which reportedly polled thousands of people between the ages of 15 and 44 from 2006 through 2008, found that 44 percent of straight men and 36 percent of straight women admitted to having had anal sex at least once in their lives.
When it came to experimenting with same-sex love, however, women were considerably more fluid: 12 percent said they'd had sex with another woman, compared to a mere 5.8 percent of men. Of course, as The New Civil Rights Movement notes, it's possible that the rates for heterosexual men and women experiencing anal sex as well as those experimenting with same-sex partners may actually be slightly higher in 2012.
There have been several published theories as to the reason for a rise in popularity (and we can hopefully assume it's not an increase in the number of people Googling Rick Santorum). A Dec. 22, 2011 piece by Hugo Schwyzer, a professor of gender studies and history at Pasadena City College, implied that anal sex (which he calls "the most selfless of common sexual acts" given the amount of pain the "bottoming" partner endures in its practice) could be on the rise due to its frequent appearance in both heterosexual porn and mainstream media as well as an increased pressure from heterosexual male partners. He also cited several sources who seemed to cast doubt on how pleasurable the act was for women.
Though there's no telling what he'd say about the implications of the practice between heterosexual partners, Paul Angelo, a Miami-based "gay matchmaker," reportedly called for a 60-day moratorium on anal sex among gay couples last month, saying the act diminishes self-confidence and self-esteem while causing relationship confusion among partners. "The worse part about this destruction of self-esteem is that it's on the subconscious level. A person will not feel anything during the act," he writes. "And the pleasure derived from the act will override the logic necessary to correct the behavior. In addition, there is a delay between the act of anal intercourse and the reduction of self-esteem of the person."