BDSM sex involves one partner to be dominant, and the other partner to be submissive in the actor of sexual intercourse.

Dominance and control – these are the dynamics that form the ethos of BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism) sex. In this form of sex, one partner assumes a more dominant role, and the other one adopts a submissive role. While this may seem rather unnatural, many couples love participating in BDSM sex. American erotic romantic drama “Fifty Shades of Grey”, which depicted a sadomasochistic relationship between a couple, did much to pique people’s interest in what BDSM sex is all about.

Some people may already be practising what can be called light BDSM activities. These may include light spanking, role play, use of blindfolds or hair pulling

According to a study cited by The American Board of Sexology, around 47 percent of women and 60 percent of men have had a fantasy about sexually dominating someone. While it was found that these sex practices were more prevalent in LGBTQ couples, it was also very much adopted by people across different age groups, genders and ethnicities.

People like practicing BDSM sex as it helps them establish a relationship of trust, as well as improves their mood and spruces up the relationship. However, there are some unwritten rules and regulations that must be followed where BDSM sex is concerned. To understand the dynamics of BDSM sex, Health Shots got in touch with sex health expert and psychologist Anu Goel, who explains the do’s and don’t’s of BDSM sex.

What is BDSM sex?

BDSM is an acronym for bondage, discipline, dominance, submission and masochism. It is an umbrella term that describes the sexual preferences and behaviours that may involve whips, chains, handcuffs, blindfolds and more.

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  • Bondage refers to one partner limiting the movement of the other partner by the use of ropes and handcuffs.
  • Discipline is about the rules and regulations that both parties have agreed to.
  • Dominance is the act of exerting physical control over the partner.
  • Submission refers to one partner giving into the dominating partner’s wishes
  • Sadism and masochism is the pleasure that one may feel to see one’s partner being dominated, or even in pain. Sadism is about inflicting pain on your partner, while masochism is about receiving the pain.

As per a study published in Springer, bondage is a favourite sexual activity of 85 percent women in the kink community (a group of people who are into sexual fetish and kinks). Another study published in The Journal of Sex Research, suggests that this exchange of power is sexually arousing for many people..

Are there any benefits of BDSM sex?

1. Pleasure is enhanced

When there is any kind of bondage, it can increase intensity as well as sexual pleasure, says Anu Goel. The Journal of Sex Research cites a study that claims that BDSM can put you in a mental state called subspace. This is a space of consciousness that you are in when you receive pain. This floaty space seems to be the goal of engaging in BDSM sex, and it can be defined as enhanced sexual pleasure, which begins right at the discussion stage, and ends with pain.

A woman with restraints
BDSM sex can be risky as well and both partners must have a clear understanding of what is pleasurable and what is not. Image courtesy: Pexels

2. Builds trust

When you are engaged in BDSM sex, it helps to foster a feeling of trust and honesty between the two partners. “There is a sense of vulnerability that comes in when you practice BDSM. Couples have to give up or take on control, and that helps to strengthen their relationship as well,” says Goel.

3. Helps to heal from trauma

A study published in the Journal of Sex Research states that BDSM can help one heal from trauma, PTSD as well as an abusive past. “Power dynamics is another area that couples can focus on while taking part in BDSM sex. Taking on control in the bedroom can often help couples do this in other areas of their relationship as well,” says Goel.

4. Can improve sexual and mental health

A study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine claims that people who follow BDSM experienced less distress in sexual functioning. In fact, BDSM may actually lower anxiety levels. as per this study titled Consensual BDSM Facilitates Role-Specific Altered States of Consciousness: A Preliminary Study.

How to do BDSM sex?

There is no one way to practice BDSM. You can experiment as you go along. “Things such as power play, role play, come into the picture in BDSM sex. People can use bondage, handcuffs and even sensory deprivation, such as blindfolds, for the same,” explains Goel. However, there are some points that need to be kept in mind:

1. Prepare well and prioritise consent

In order to practice safe BDSM sex, both partners need to be well prepared and give consent to this form of sexual relations. “You can even consult an expert, or read up on bondage sex, or watch videos before attempting it,” explains Goel.

2. Set strict rules

Rules, safe words, boundaries and things that are off limits must be discussed and decided by the consent of both partners. “Mutual consent about every aspect is very important in BDSM sex, and must be taken very seriously,” says Goel.

Handcuffs and strawberries
BDSM sex can involve hand cuffs, as well as other restraints. Image courtesy: Pexels

3. Be safe

Both partners must agree of what they are comfortable with. Physical as well as emotional safety is of paramount importance here, says Goel. Non-verbal cues, such as tapping, must be discussed before hand.

4. Be careful with restraints

Both partners need to know how to use any of the BDSM tools. If it involves using handcuffs, both partners must know how to open and close these restraints. Handcuff keys or scissors must be kept close by, especially while trying out new positions.

5. Go slow

It is very important to enjoy yourself as you go along. So don’t be in a hurry. “Start off by just maybe handcuffs, and see how you want to proceed,” says Goel.


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