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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