What to know about bondage sex (BDSM / Kink)

In a recent article from Medical News Today, there was great article around bondage, the enjoyment of it and why people engage in such activities. Being the owner of Mizzy's Boutique, an adult novelty shop that sells restraints and other sexual enhancing devices, I feel its important to educate as well.


First things first. What is Bondage? This is a sexual form of play that involves restraining your consenting partner to provide or receive sexual pleasure.




 

Bondage sex refers to a form of sex play that involves consensually tying or restraining a partner in a sex position to give or receive sexual pleasure.



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Bondage represents the B in BDSM, which comprises three separate but combinable elements: bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism. Some may also refer to it as a kink — an umbrella term to commonly describe sexual practices that may fall outside normative societal standards.


Bondage sex is a consensual activity that involves using physical restraints to restrict a partner’s freedom of movement. It is a perfectly healthy and respectful form of sexual activity, which separates it from sexual and domestic abuse.


It falls under the umbrella of power play, where one partner takes on a more dominant role during sex while the other assumes a submissive role. Although this assumes a hierarchy of power, it is better to characterize bondage sex as an open dialogue to negotiate behaviors and achieve mutual enjoyment from physical and psychological stimulation.


This article defines bondage sex, why people enjoy it, potential benefits and risks, and how to perform it safely.


Bondage sex is a form of consensual and recreational sex play that involves tying, restraining, or binding a person with rope, handcuffs, or other items that can restrict movement. Beyond the restraint, bondage sex also involves a consensual power dynamic between a dominant and submissive partner. However, it is also possible for a person to practice self-bondage during masturbation.

A 2017 study notes that roughly 1 in 5Trusted Source Americans has engaged in bondage play, and another 2017 study adds that interest in BDSM is present in most of the general population. Despite its prevalence, bondage remains a stigmatizing topic — historically, people have viewed this practice as subversive, taboo, and an indication of being psychologically unwell.

However, there has been a shift in the narrative in recent years, and many experts now view consensual BDSM activities as a relatively common and healthy form of intimacy.

Why do people enjoy it? Evidence suggests that 58.9% of males and 54.4% of female BDSM practitioners list bondage sex as one of their favorite BDSM activities. Additionally, a 2015 study investigating females in the kink community adds that bondage is a preferable activity, with more than 85%Trusted Source of individuals indicating they participate in bondage for sensual or erotic pleasure.

A 2021 systematic review notes that BDSM interactions are complex, and several psychological, social, and biological processes can influence this sexual behavior.

A 2019 systematic scoping review suggests that it allows people to assert dominance by giving them total control and power over the situation. Similarly, a 2020 study notes that many practitioners find the giving, taking, and exchanging of power to be sexually arousing. Additionally, the study adds that playing with interpersonal power through the exchange of power via physical restraint is one of the most common reasons people engage in bondage practices. Others note that they may compare bondage to an eroticized way of practicing mindfulness, similar to meditation or other general leisure activities, as it allows them to relax and practice a form of focused attention.

A 2019 study also adds that the brain’s pain and reward systems can influence why people enjoy BDSM. As pleasure and pain may activate the same part of the brain, engaging in these practices may help to enhance pleasure.

Potential benefits Some possible benefits may include:

Enhances pleasure Evidence suggests that participating in BDSM leads to an altered state of consciousness called subspace. People describe it as a floaty, high state that submissives and receivers experience during and after the play. Additionally, using restraints may produce a feeling of sensory deprivation. This may help to not only increase a person’s excitement, but enhance the sensation of the remaining senses, which can heighten pleasure.

Builds deeper connections Bondage sex can encourage couples to explore their desires and fantasies. Bondage sex hinges on trust and security. This sense of vulnerability that comes with giving up control may help develop trust and closeness among partners. Practicing bondage may also improve communication skills, including negotiation and assertiveness.


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Heals relationships A 2019 review states that BDSM can offer a safe space for people healing from trauma, PTSD, and abuse. Moreover, therapists may use practices such as bondage as a tool to help couples working on power dynamics. This may help couples experience relinquishing and assuming control in the bedroom before they do in other parts of their relationship.

Improves sexual and mental health A 2019 study found that people who practice BDSM have fewer sexual problems than the general population. Furthermore, in a 2015 studyTrusted Source, males who perform BDSM had lower distress in sexual functioning than non-BDSM counterparts.

A 2016 preliminary study notes that engaging in consensual BDSM can reduce anxiety. Another study suggests that subspace can reduce physical and emotional stress among the receiving partners.

Possible risks People practicing bondage sex may be at risk of physical injuries. In a 2016 study, more than 70% of participants report at least one accident from performing a BDSM practice, with hematoma being the most common injury. The study adds that injuries are more common in those who use drugs while performing BDSM sex.

Fatal outcomes can also occur while practicing BDSM. A 2021 literature review notes that strangulation is the most common cause of death, and drugs or alcohol were involved in 64% of fatal BDSM cases.

Consent is criticalTrusted Source within the BDSM community to ensure physical and emotional safety among practitioners. This is known as Safe, Sane, and Consensual (SSC) and Risk-Aware Consensual Kink (RACK) in BDSM communities.

Sexual partners need to explicitly give their consent, clearly define their boundaries, and negotiate and discuss what they are willing to do and what are out-of-bounds. All parties must also agree on a safeword, which refers to a word or signal that can instantly stop the sex act. People should also consider staying sober while performing bondage sex to ensure the safety of those involved.


How to perform Below are tips and techniques that may be helpful for people who are considering bondage sex.

Have enough preparation The portrayal of BDSM in media is often inaccurate and sometimes too extreme. A person planning to do bondage sex at home should consider attending a class, reading books, or checking out informational videos online beforehand.

Set ground rules and boundaries To engage in safe and healthy bondage sex, all parties should discuss and negotiate each other’s boundaries and roles and note any activities that are off-limits. All participants should give mutual consent on what each finds comfortable and confident experimenting during the session.

Agree on a safeword Trust, security, and mutual consent are the pillars of bondage play. However, things can quickly escalate, and it may be difficult to recognize if the other person is teasing or honestly requesting to stop the play. A safeword is any phrase or action that immediately signals that sex play needs to stop. It can help ensure that the sexual activity remains safe, pleasurable, and consensual.

Always ensure safety Beginners should try bondage with a person they trust and never perform it with a stranger. A person must check in on their partner’s physical and emotional safety. This may include asking if they are comfortable or developing a non-verbal cue such as a light tap to communicate pleasure.

Be familiar with restraints A person must know how to get their partner out of restraint before using them. Individuals can keep a pair of safety shears or handcuff keys within their reach, especially when trying more difficult bondage positions.

People should take appropriate precautions when tying restraints. Ensure they are not too tight to allow for proper circulation and never use restraints near the neck, as this may cause asphyxiation.

Take it easy The sensory deprivation that comes with using bondages can be unsettling for beginners. Couples can begin by restraining one area, such as the wrists, then slowly easing into more advanced restraints based on their confidence and comfort.

Add toys, props, and costumes People may wish to enhance the experience with the help of costumes, toys, and props. Allowing the imagination to run wild can also add excitement and pleasure.

Have an aftercare Aftercare refers to the time that people take after engaging in bondage sex to check on a person’s emotional and physical needs. Certain sex acts can be physically and psychologically taxing, so it can be beneficial to take time to discuss the sex acts and provide reassurance.

 

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About Mizzy Bender Who doesn’t love to talk about sex and everything in between? Mizzy Bender is here to talk through all the down, dirty and not so fun moments that life has to offer. Mizzy is one female that isn’t afraid to embrace all aspects of life from sexuality to success.

Mizzy Bender is a 38 year old female entrepreneur leading the way within the Alternative Lifestyle community. Mizzy’s journey started out with Mindbender Parties and still remains traveling East Coast putting on full thematic lifestyle events with her partner in crime, Spencer. Mizzy’s passion and drive is all about creating an environment that is all inclusive and judgment free, where we can be who we are without question. Where we can have a platform to talk about the things we are curious about without judgments, finding like minded humans to love and support one another.

Through this journey, Mizzy's Boutique was formed, starting as an online shop that has migrated into a traveling pop up boutique, vending at events across the US.

Shortly there after, the podcast, The Mizzy Bender Show was created.

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