These 10 Reasons Will Definitely Encourage* You To Try BDSM For Better Sex

BDSM For Better Sex
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

This Article is Written By Dr. Markie Twist and Guest Co-Author Raven Cloud

According to the World Health Organization (2006) sexual health[1]sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.

For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.” In other words, sexual health encompasses all aspects of a person’s sex life.

So What Is BDSM?

BDSM[2] stands for Bondage/Discipline-Dominance/Submission-Sadomasochism and it involves myriad erotic practices and/or roleplaying involving bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadomasochism, and related interpersonal power dynamics and exchanges.

Why Is BDSM Good For Sexual Health?

Here are our top 10 reasons why BDSM can be good for sexual health:

1. Consent And Communication Are Of Necessity

Builds Trust And Intimacy

A fundamental part of sexual health is having sexual exchanges characterized by clear communication and consent. According to both researchers and practitioners, engagement in BDSM includes both (Pitagora, 2013; William, Thomas, Prior, & Christensen, 2014[3]).

In general, the underlying rule is one that I, Dr. Markie Twist, always tell students and clients, which is “if you can’t talk about sex you probably shouldn’t be having it[4].” BDSM practitioners have to be able to talk about sex, and more specifically BDSM.

To do so, BDSM practitioners have the following frameworks for negotiating clear and consensual BDSM exchanges–1) Safe, Sane, and Consensual (SSC), 2) Risk Aware Consensual Kink (RACK), and 3) Caring, Communication, Consent, and Caution (4Cs) (Williams et al., 2014)[5].

2. Builds Trust And Intimacy

The nature of BDSM engagement also requires a significant amount of trust in relationships in which it is practiced, which can deepen intimacy.

Indeed, in a recent study measuring relational closeness and attachment bonds of 200 people in BDSM relationships[6]., my research team, Dr. Michael Aaron, Dulcinea Pitagora, and graduate research assistant, Serenity Curtis, and I found that people who engage in BDSM are not more likely than those who do not to be in relationships that are anxious or avoidant in terms of attachment processes[7].

Indeed, my research team found that people involved in BDSM relationships report feeling closer, bonded, and intimate with their partners. This could be an indication that people involved in BDSM relationships might be characterized as securely attached, which creates a solid foundation for sexual health.

3. Better Understanding Of One’s Body And Sexual Self

Better Understanding Body

While it is not the preferred (or most enjoyable) method, it is possible to engage in normative sexual practices without fully acknowledging or exploring one’s sexual identity, needs, or desires. BDSM activity, by its nature, requires a certain amount of personal exploration, both physical and psychological.

The practical upshot of this is that you know yourself better and can articulate sexual activities that you do find pleasurable, think you might find pleasurable, and activities you will never, under any circumstances, ever find pleasurable.

Self-knowledge is a direct antecedent of self-confidence[8] and increasing* sexual self-confidence can help you have better sex just by allowing you to weed out activities you know are not enjoyable or that are simply not what will satisfy you today.

Put simply, in understanding one’s body and sexual self-one is working towards fortifying their overall sexual health.

4. Participation In A Serious Leisure Activity

Leisure is a term used to describe the time and related activities that one engages in when one has free time. Leisure activities[9] are voluntary, and non-compulsory.

Engagement in leisure activities has the following health benefits: experiencing of pleasure, promotion of a greater range of motion and muscle tone, improvement to one’s digestion and cardiovascular systems, and increased social support, which reduces* stress, promotes* a sense of belonging, and helps one maintain their positive interpersonal attachments.

Leisure activities fit into the categories of serious and casual. Recreational sex typically fits under casual leisure, because it is an activity that is immediate, intrinsically rewarding, provides short-lived pleasure, and requires little to no special training to enjoy it.

Participation in BDSM activities more often fits into the category of serious leisure like rock climbing, or kayaking.

Serious leisure activities rely on: particular public spaces, devotion to the activity, involve a learning curve in acquiring and performing a specialized skill, require financial expenditures, involvement with a social network and community, the need for perseverance, durable benefits to engaging in the activity, and personal identification with the activity.

Some of the durable benefits to participation in BDSM as serious leisure include: self-actualization, self-expression, renewal of self, improved* self-image, feelings of accomplishment, lasting physical products, sense of connection, and social interaction. Many of these benefits are key components of sexual health.

5. Elicits A Body High

Elicits A Body High

One of the human body’s most fascinating adaptations are endorphins[10], opiate-like substances released in the brain and throughout the endocrine system. The benefits of endorphins are well documented and include chronic pain and stress relief.

One endorphin in particular, oxytocin, is a bonding hormone that can alleviate feelings of depression and anxiety and increase* feelings of closeness with partners.

Two common methods of initiating the release of endorphins are orgasms and pain. BDSM activity often combines both, and the subsequent intense rush of endorphins can lead to an altered state of consciousness – a soft, floaty psychobiological experience known as “subspace[11].”

This state is not only pleasant, but can enhance* one’s sexual health through intensifying emotional intimacy, as this altered state of consciousness promotes* emotional openness and vulnerability.

6. Induces A Spiritual High

As there are body highs for BDSM practitioners, there can also be spiritual highs. Indeed, for some people, experiencing of an altered state of consciousness is what they perceive to be a spiritual experience.

In recent years, researchers have found a physiological connection between engagement in consensual BDSM activities and altered states of consciousness (Ambler et al., 2017)[12].

Thus, it seems the physiological experiences people have in a spiritual state are virtually identical to those they experience in a state-created via participation in sex[13] and BDSM activities. And while spiritual highs aren’t necessarily a part of overall sexual health, the physiological and hormonal changes that are associated with both spiritual and sexual highs can be!

7. Offers Variety/Novelty

Love Games

One of the most common complaints [14] heard by sex therapists is that the “spark” has gone out of a couple’s sex life, their sex has become routine, or even that it’s plain boring. An easy way to spice things up in the bedroom is to introduce BDSM activities.

Whether you’re into being tied up with fuzzy handcuffs or scarves, being spanked with a hand or a flogger, BDSM can be tailored to any skill level or style preference.

A brilliant example of including BDSM style activities in an otherwise ‘vanilla[15]’ or non-kinky sex life is Anita Melissa Mashman’s short story “Five Dimes[16]” in which a couple makes use of power dynamics to intensify a sexual encounter.

Remember, BDSM encompasses a vast array of behaviors and activities. The acronym itself actually stands for three different genres of activity – BD (Bondage & Discipline), DS (Dominance & Submission), and SM (Sadism & Masochism).

Partners can spend a lifetime exploring the various ways these letters can be combined to create fun and pleasurable sexual encounters–and experiencing pleasure is a part of being sexually healthy.

8. Represents Relationship Anarchy

Many romantic partnerships in the United States typically operate in practice in a way that is prescriptive, which commonly means they are between two people who are typically cisgender male and female, with the man wielding more power. In contrast, many people who are in BDSM relationships are practicing what has been termed, “relationship anarchy[17].”

Relationship anarchy is anything by prescriptive.

Coined by Andie Nordgren in 2012, some of its tenants include approaching relationships: with love and respect (instead of entitlement), with trust, and building into the relationship the potential for joy unexpected.

These are relationships that emphasize freedom and ongoing negotiation in the relationship. And freedom to grow and explore as individuals in relationships is an important component of sexual health.

9. Provides A Sense Of Identity/Community

For many who engage in BDSM, their participation goes beyond engagement in a serious leisure activity to include the view that their participation is a part of their identity–a BDSM identity (Meeker, 2013)[18].

Having an identity that individuals can apply to their erotic orientation and related behaviors can be validating, reduce* stigmatization and discrimination, and lead to connections with like people, whereby a sense of community is established and experienced–all of which can be a foundation for greater sexual health.

10. It’s Fun!

Its Fun

There’s a reason regular practitioners refer to BDSM as “play.” Discovering what you enjoy as a sexual being and sharing that enjoyment with others is actually a lot of fun. Returning to findings from my team’s study, participants reported feelings of empowerment, love, and authenticity through engagement in BDSM[19] activities.

All of this positivity is also good for your health. Researchers have consistently demonstrated that happiness (positive mood) is linked to positive health outcomes[20] with specific benefits for the immune system.

So go find a consenting partner and get your kink on! You just might have fantastic sex and improve* your sexual health at the same time!

Read More: Sexual Sadism: When To Recognize If It’s Time To Seek Help

Want To Learn More About Improving* Sexual Health Through BDSM?

You can learn more about BDSM from reputable organizations like the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom[21] or The Science of BDSM[22], and from online sex education sources like Kink Academy[23].

If you are a medical or helping professional (e.g., nurse, mental health counselor, family therapist, sex therapist, etc.) and want to become more BDSM-friendly in your work with clients, check out professional resources like Kink Knowledgeable[24].

References

[1] http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/sexual_health/sh_definitions/en/
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BDSM
[3] http://mail.ejhs.org/volume17/BDSM.html
[4] http://stoutonia.com/lets-talk-about-sex-baby/
[5] http://mail.ejhs.org/volume17/BDSM.html
[6] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/standard-deviations/201702/50-shades-happier-the-truth-about-bdsm-participants
[7] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/communication-success/201507/what-is-your-relationship-attachment-style
[8] https://executive-coaching.co.uk/newsletters/how-self-awareness-boosts-confidence/
[9] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Leisure_activities
[10] https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=55001
[11] http://chicomunch.com/publ/basic_info_about_bdsm/bdsm_101_subspace_aftercare_and_sub_drop_and_sometimes_top_drop/1-1-0-23
[12] https://www.dropbox.com/s/3cr0ud5q3wuw7o7/Ambler%2C%20Lee%2C%20Klement%2C%20Loewald%2C%20Comber%2C%20Hanson%2C%20Cutler%2C%20Cutler%2C%20%26%20Sagarin%20%282017%29.pdf
[13] https://www.bustle.com/p/why-some-people-have-spiritual-experiences-during-sex-according-to-science-2303332
[14] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/complaints-sex-therapists-hear-all-the-time_us_56e9db0ee4b0860f99db85e8
[15] https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Vanilla%20Sex
[16] http://susiebright.blogs.com/bae/2007/10/five-dimes-by-a.html
[17] http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/andie-nordgren-the-short-instructional-manifesto-for-relationship-anarchy
[18] http://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1180&context=sferc
[19] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/standard-deviations/201610/bdsm-harm-reduction
[20] http://www.tandfonline.com.ezproxy.library.unlv.edu/doi/pdf/10.1080/08870449708406738?needAccess=true
[21] https://www.ncsfreedom.org/
[22] http://scienceofbdsm.blogspot.com/
[23] http://www.kinkacademy.com/
[24] https://kinkknowledgeable.com/

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Author

Expert Author : Markie Twist (Consumer Health Digest)

Dr. Markie Twist is a licensed marriage and family therapist and mental health counselor, clinical fellow and approved supervisor, and certified sexuality educator. Dr. Markie is co-author of the books, The Couple and Family Technology Framework: Intimate Relationships in a Digital Age, and Focused Genograms: Attachment Focused Intergenerational Assessment of Individuals, Couples, and Families (2nd ed.). Dr. Markie serves as the Program Coordinator of the Graduate Certificate in Sex Therapy Program at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, and as faculty in the marriage and family therapy programs at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Her Website: https://drmarkie.com/ and E-mail: [email protected]. Follow her on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram