Pain During Sex & BDSM Can Be A Lot Of Fun — So Here Are 8 Sensation Play Ideas To Get You Started

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We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions remain anonymous. Now, onto today’s topic: How to bring pain and BDSM into sex without actually hurting anyone (too badly).

Q: I want to experiment with sensation play and pain during sex and BDSM. I’m brand new to this, so I’d like to ease my way into it with easier things like spanking. I think I can only stand a small amount of pain, so I don’t want to do anything too crazy! How can I get started?

A: Thanks for the question! Pain — or even the threat of pain — can release a rush of endorphins into our bodies. Endorphins are also responsible for the sensation of pleasure in the body. So it makes a lot of sense that many people like a little side of pain with their pleasure!

An important safety note first, though: don’t ever experiment with pain, sensation play, or BDSM without talking to your partner first. Make sure you understand each other’s boundaries (more on that in this article on how to dominate someone). Experiment with the level of pain that you can each tolerate before jumping into the deep end of the pool. And always, always, always agree on a safeword beforehand. It’s extremely dangerous to participate in pain play without one. As soon as that safeword gets uttered, everything needs to come to a screeching halt. With these guidelines in play, you’ll be much more likely to have a great time!

OK, now we can get down to it. You can incorporate pain into your sex life in a ton of different ways, but it’s best to start by dipping your toes in the kiddie pool. Here are eight ways for newbies to play.

Spanking

You already mentioned that you were into spanking, so let’s start here! Spanking is usually done on the butt cheeks. This is a perfect area since it’s nice and fleshy, and there’s no risk of accidentally smacking a bone or joint. Plus, getting a good spank on the ass (especially when you’re having sex Doggystyle) can be ridiculously sexy!

The first thing you’ll want to do is get a sense of how much of a spank you can take. Get on your hands and knees and have your partner start tapping right in the middle of one butt cheek. Have them keep their fingers together, with their palm slightly cupped. Start off with a very light touch. Tell your partner “harder,” and work you way up the intensity scale very slowly until you find the level of pain that feels best for you. After particularly forceful smacks, have your partner rub the area with their hand. This will help the stinging sensation go away.

There are also plenty of toys you can use to up your spanking game. This LELO suede whip is amazing because you can tickle your partner with the soft suede strands, or whip it for a solid smack. This paddle has a soft fuzzy side that will create fairly gentle spanks, and a leather side that will create a more intense sensation. If you want even more, a riding crop will give you a localized stinging sensation. With all toys, use them on your arms or thighs first to get a sense of how much force you can safely use.

Hair Pulling

If you’ve ever had someone run their hands through your hair, you know just how sensitive the scalp can be! You can ask your partner to give your hair a good tug in the middle of sex. This also works well in Doggystyle. Your partner should take your entire ponytail into their hand and give a firm pull. Pulling all of your hair at the same time will ensure that none of our hair actually gets pulled out. Again, make sure to communicate with your partner about how much force you can stand.

Choking

Choking tends to more about dominance and power than it is about pain, but it’s still a crowd favorite. When choking someone, you have to be extremely careful not to use much force. The person being choked is going to feel vulnerable right away, so there’s no need to get too intense with this one. It’s also vitally important to squeeze the sides of the throat instead of the front of the throat. The sides are much more pliable, whereas the front is more likely to lead to actual choking or even injury. Test it out on your own neck before doing it to a partner. If you’re afraid of getting hurt, have your partner wrap their hand around your neck gently, without exerting any force. It will be just as sexy!

Body Clamps

If you’re interested in exploring hyper-localized pinching sensations, you may want to check out body clamps. The most commonly-found ones are nipple clamps, which can be used on both men and women. These types of toys are clamped onto the skin, left for a short period of time, then removed. The pinching itself can cause a little (or a lot) of pain, and the removal of the clamp can bring a rush of sensation to the area.

I highly recommend starting with professionally-made clamps (don’t go digging around for some old=school clothespins!), and only using the clamps for a few seconds at a time. You can gradually work your tolerance up, but it’s important to take it easy at first. In general, it’s best not to leave clamps on for more than 10 minutes.

Cut Off Your Sight

Sensation play is all about trying to heighten your sensations, typically by cutting off your contact to other sensations. One of the easiest senses to play around with is sight. Have your partner blindfold you, or you can try having sex in pitch black darkness. You won’t be able to see what they’re about to do next, and the anticipation will drive you wild!

Get Restrained

You can have your partner restrain your arms and legs. You won’t be able to move, and you’ll be at their mercy. I recommend using soft restraints so you don’t injure your wrists or ankles. A scarf or tie will do in a pinch, or you can invest in this amazing restraint system that goes under your mattress.

Try Different Kinds Of Touch

You can also have your partner use different objects to stimulate the surface of your skin. Feathers or a silk scarf can be nice (albeit a bit ticklish at times!). If you have a paddleboard hairbrush, the bristles can feel great against your skin. Have your partner alternate between gentler and rougher types of stimulation.

Get Hot And Cold

Finally, you can try experimenting with heat and cold. This massage candle burns at a lower temperature than regular candles, meaning it’s safe to drip the wax directly onto your skin. Or have your partner try having a few sips of hot tea, then kissing you with their warm mouth. After that, your partner can put a few ice cubes in their mouth, to contrast the warm kisses with some cold ones. You can also try purchasing glass or stainless steel sex toys, both of which can be safely heated up in warm water or cooled down in an ice bath.

Have fun, and remember to keep communicating!

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Images: Focus Features; LELO; Good Vibrations; Giphy