Choke Responsibly…

Before I get into this topic, let me lead with this: if you and your partner are interested in any kind of sexual activities outside of vanilla sex, if you want to try ANYTHING at all that falls along the BDSM spectrum, the most important thing to do is talk about it first. Have honest dialogue about your interests, intentions and expectations. Discuss your limits and absolutely choose a safe word AND a safe gesture (in the event that you’re gagged or cannot otherwise use your word). There may be times when the pain or pleasure simply becomes too intense and you need to tap out in order to regain your equilibrium. It’s important to be able to communicate with your partner when you need them to pause or stop. The levels of intensity, whether pleasure or pain, can lead to negative physiological effects and the best case scenario could be an embarrassing conversation with your GP or ER doctor. Even though the French refer to orgasm as le petit mort (the little death) you can actually die and that’s definitely not the end result we’re hoping for when we have sex. 

So, let’s talk about the current topic of interest: erotic asphyxiation. Choking / breath play are interesting forms of stimulation because of the ways in which they affect the sexual experience. The physical, physiological and psychological effects can enhance the sexual experience in a variety of ways. In the context of a dom-sub relationship, it’s almost the ultimate transfer of power because it’s putting your life in the hands of the other person. Adding to that, the effects of a temporary lack of oxygen can compound the euphoria of orgasm and heighten pleasure. 

The risks however, should never be downplayed. These include: 

Brain damage – Every time your brain goes without oxygen, you’re causing brain damage. The cumulative effect of regular asphyxia can be problematic.

Damaged larynx – Pressing down on the larynx can damage the delicate muscular organ. At the same time, the force may break or fracture the hyoid, a bone in the neck that supports the tongue.

Aspiration –Some of the sensations caused by EA may make you nauseous. This can lead to vomiting. Though uncommon, some people may end up aspirating the vomit. That means they somehow manage to get vomit into their airway or lungs. This can cause long-term breathing problems and increase your risk of infection, among other complications.

Heart attack – The chemical makeup of blood changes when oxygen is low. These changes can upset the heart’s natural rhythm and may lead to deadly abnormalities. Ultimately, this can cause cardiac arrest, though it’s rare.

Orbital subperiosteal hematoma  – In one rare instance, a woman who had practiced EA reported to an emergency department with orbital subperiosteal hematoma, or a hemorrhage in the eyeball. This can lead to permanent vision loss, as well as long-term optic pain.

             (Healthline, 2019)

So, how do you practice safe erotic asphyxiation? Well. First. Remember your safe word or gesture. Your safe word should ideally be something you wouldn’t ordinarily say during sex; here are some suggestions. Your safe gesture can include the use of a device like a squeaky toy or a bell placed in your dominant hand (if your hands are tied) or a hand signal (if your hands are free); here are some suggestions for those. The basis of any relationship should be trust and this is especially important in a relationship where one or both persons plays a submissive role. You and your partner must be able to trust each other to tell them when things get too intense or painful and you must trust each other to stop. 

There are 4 main types of erotic asphyxiation: 

Choking is the one most people are familiar with. It’s manual (meaning no devices are being incorporated. In order to properly choke your partner, you have to apply pressure to the carotid artery. The carotid artery runs down the throat to the chest; the point that you want to strike is slightly below your partner’s jawline, closer to the ear than the chin. Apply light, pulsing pressure; remember, the throat is a sensitive area, so it’s important to be gentle. The aim is to intermittently restrict/interrupt blood and air flow to create the euphoric sensation. 

What you do NOT want to do is use a tight grip or forceful pressure; you can always press down a little more firmly if your partner asks or gestures for you to do so. Use your palm to avoid hitting your partner’s windpipe, and do not pull your partner’s neck to the side while choking them. If you want your partner to move, use their legs or arms; do not try to pull their neck upwards to move them. You may not be in the mood for common sense at that moment, but you have to use it anyway.  

Smothering is another method and can involve implements such as pillows or can be as simple as having your partner sitting on your face. This cuts off air supply and limits oxygen supply to the brain. Same euphoric feelings, same rules re letting your partner know when to stop. 

Strangulation is a more intense form of choking and is used in breath play. It incorporates the use of items to cut off rather than interrupt blood and air flow. Scarves, ties, cords or other such items can be used to cut of air and oxygen. This usually involves constant rather than intermittent pressure and can result in your partner losing consciousness at intervals. This can be done deliberately but makes the process considerably more dangerous. 

Suffocation ups the ante even more and usually involves the use of an item such as a bag placed over your partner’s head to completely cut off oxygen. The same rules apply but the risk is far greater. Communicate with your partner and STOP when they indicate that you should. Pay attention to their body language and movements and STOP when you see ANY sign of distress even if they don’t indicate that you should.  

Sexual exploration is nothing new. Every since we figure out that it felt good to stimulate certain areas of the body, humans have been testing our capacity for sexual pleasure. As with anything else, limit testing can be as dangerous as it is euphoric. I encourage safe, fun exploration, founded on open, honest communication and a relationship built on trust. I’ve placed several links in this post and there is a lot of information out there on how to safely engage in erotic asphyxiation. If you’re truly interested, don’t just take my informal post, click the links, read the info, share it with your partner, talk about your interests, have fun!



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