The world of kink. A sensual playground. A vast land of possibilities to explore new sensations. A place to let your fantasies come to life and explore edges. BDSM and other kinks allow people to explore new frontiers, break down emotional walls, and feel incredible in their bodies.
We’re not going to beat around the bush here, some kink activities can be inherently risky, especially if you don’t take the necessary precautions to stay as safe as possible. People are pretty aware of BDSM concepts like “safe words” but what other steps can you take to practice kink safely?
Kink Safety 101
BDSM, Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, Sadism & Masochism, is a form of kink and is what we usually think of when talking about kink safety. Some of the most common BDSM activities include power play, sensory play, choking, and restraint.
Be aware of any triggering situations or body parts.
Have non-verbal safe signals as well as safe words.
These are integral parts of practicing kink safely, but it’s important to go more in-depth to understand the potential risks of different activities and how to protect yourself and your partners.
Impact play is a lot of people’s introduction to kink. It includes things like spanking, flogging, slapping, or whipping with hands or by using toys.
Impact Play Risks:
Impact play can range in risk depending on what toys you’re using (if any) and what areas of the body you’re practicing on. It’s vital to stay away from internal organs and bones when doing impact play.
Potential risks include bone damage, internal injury, and wrapping (striking an area you didn’t mean to, usually with a whip). Impact play can also cause scrapes, welts, bruises, and bleeding, although for some that those are intended and a part of their kink practice – as long as it’s done safely and consensually.
Impact Play Safety:
A big part of safety in impact play comes down to what parts of the body you’re practicing on. Safe areas are fatty and fleshy parts of the body like the thighs, calves, and butt, and again DO NOT practice on bones or near internal organs.
Bottoms should also let tops know of any old injuries or surgical zones that may be high risk or parts of the body that may be emotionally triggering. All parties should understand the difference between stingy sensations (sharp pain on the surface of the skin) and thuddy sensations (localized deep tissue pain), what implements cause each, and what bottoms want to experience.
Tops can start by practicing on a pillow to avoid wrapping. They can work on their aim by marking a specific area on a pillowcase and aiming to strike there.
Discuss if the sub would like their top to leave a mark, how many, where, and to what degree. If you do happen to get a wound, be sure to cleanse and dress it to avoid infection. It’s also important to give the body time to heal between sessions and jump straight into another session.
Bondage and Restraints
Bondage and restraints include any activities where a bottom is being restrained by things like ropes, restraint systems, bondage tape, or ties and scarves. Researching and preparing are essential for staying safe while practicing these types of kink.
Bondage and Restraints Risks:
Potential risks of bondage and restraint include nerve damage or compression from ropes placing excessive pressure on nerves, someone falling on their head or face, and a loss of circulation in certain body parts.
Bondage and Restraints Safety:
How do you stay safe while practicing bondage? Two of the biggest rules are to never leave someone alone when restrained and always have safety scissors close by. Other vital rules are not restraining around joints, where nerve injuries are more common, or around the neck.
Know the warning signs of circulation loss to avoid tissue damage, this means looking out for body parts being extremely cold, puffy or swollen, or discolored. Also be aware of areas where nerves can be compressed against bone like in the wrists, knees and elbows, upper arms, and upper thighs, and signs of nerve compression like weakness, tightness, numbness, pain, tingling, and coldness.
Here are some other bondage and restraint safety tips:
Avoid using metal handcuffs as they can cause nerve damage.
If needed, loosen ties to prevent vascular injury or nerve damage.
Avoid falling by things like tipping over furniture, falling out of a bed, or running around with arms restrained.
Check for signs of numbness during a session along different body parts.
Check for motor function during a session in different parts of the body (like being able to squeeze your fingers).
Another common kink practice is choking. One study found that 58% of women college students surveyed had been choked during sex. Despite it being so common, it’s also one of the riskiest kink behaviors.
Choking, erotic asphyxiation, includes serious risks like compression of the airway, nerves, and blood vessels, cardiac arrest, brain damage, and death. Though a lot of people engage in it, there is no such thing as 100% safe choking.
Although it comes with serious potential risks, people will still engage in choking and thus should be aware of how to minimize potential consequences. This is what’s called a harm reduction approach.
To minimize risks during choking, participants should be educated on the anatomy of the neck, head, and chest to understand how much pressure and force they can use. Pressure should start very lightly, with very gradual increases.
Avoid auto-erotic asphyxiation (doing it to yourself). If practicing erotic asphyxiation, be trained in CPR and call emergency services immediately if someone experienced adverse effects.
Emotional Safety in Kink
A lot can come up when you’re in vulnerable positions during BDSM play, safety also includes emotional safety. Preparations usually (and should) include honest check-ins with yourself, your partner, and any other participants – before, during, and after. It also means clearly talking about boundaries and limits, and being rigorous about safety practices.
Here are some other emotional safety tips in kink:
Only practice with people you trust.
Journal afterward to process anything that came up.
Be patient and communicative with each other.
Practice tools we discussed before like aftercare, boundaries, and potential triggers.
This sort of honesty and transparency should create supportive and understanding dynamics. Talking about safety in kink can help people build the skills to be more honest and straightforward in every aspect of their relationships, especially sex. If you’re interested in practicing BDSM or another form of kink, amazing, just please take the steps to practice safely!