Safety within BDSM Practices and Play sessions

Playing safely doesn't necessarily mean giving up on dangerous activities, it means taking responsible care and knowing all the risks for everyone involved especially when trying activities or edge play sessions. If activities are to go ahead make sure the planning and safety of all is discussed and there is a balance between the risk and the rewards.

Domination and submission safety within BDSM.

Both partners should always be aware of each others mental and physical health. When entering into a new D/s relationship both parties must be cautious of each others intentions.

Based on the simple fact that one will Dominate and the other will submit should be enough to illustrate the dangers and potential problems such as rape, abuse, violence, and theft, to name a few.

Submission is a gift NOT an excuse to abuse or ask the impossible. Submissives must be wary of Dominants that ask them to isolate themselves from the community, seek money or property etc or begin to ask unusual and intimately personal questions before they should.

Dominants must also be wary of unstable submissives that can cause personal or financial ruin with a trip to the police or a solicitor. It is of paramount importance that time is taken to get to know your potential partners and only then can you build trust, honesty and respect into your relationship.

A true submissive is compliant to a Dominants instruction; this is unique and is one thing that defines a true submissive from the "wannabees".

A Dominant must have great respect for submissives. It takes great character and a strong person to give one's will to another and trust that other person enough to give them full control. The onus is on the Dominant to honour that submission, to train, love and care for their submissive and meet their needs as much as their own.

Safety and Risks Explained

Anal/Oral Contact Safety

There are a few risks that I need to point out, unprotected anal/oral contact can lead to sexually transmitted diseases, intestinal parasites and poisoning by contact with faeces. Washing thoroughly with soap and water can reduce the risks, but using a dental dam will eliminate the risks all together. A dental dam is a small sheet of latex which is used when giving oral sex. These prevent infection and other risks and are highly recommended when practicing oral sex of any kind. An enema may help reduce the risk as well but the micro flora and fauna found in the intestines may still be present and does not totally eliminate the risks.

Bondage Safety

There are many points that you will need to take into account if you want to use bondage in any play session or role play activity and here they are for you to read, learn and understand.

Bondage is one of the most commonly used practices in BDSM. Bondage has its risks like any edge play and should never be done if you are in-experienced. A safeword and safety precautions should be in place before any activity takes place. It is important that safewords are acted upon immediately, don't ever joke or ignore a safeword, this should be put in place at the beginning of any BDSM play session or activity. Never underestimate the effects bondage has on someone, take it slowly and listen to the person being bound at all times. Never assume that you can do what you see in pictures or on TV, these people are highly skilled at what they do so never try to copy what you see. Always monitor and communicate with the bound person and make sure they are comfortable, check their temperature and observe their breathing.

There is a possibility the bound person may fall or faint or they may go into "subspace". Make sure the bound person has eaten and is hydrated, avoiding alcohol or drugs. Make sure equipment used is safe to use and secured in place properly. Fainting or falling can cause serious injury, dislocation, strangulation or even death, being aware of your surroundings and familiarity with your equipment is paramount in a safe, sane environment. Tight bondage and prolonged suspension bondage should be avoided; agreed time limits should be put in place between the submissive and the Dominant.

Emergency situations can happen, you need to be in a position to get yourself and the bound person out safely in case of a fire or any emergency. Make sure you always have your cutting tools at hand so they can be used quickly and safely. Never leave a bound person alone, this is irresponsible and bad practice, their safety is in your hands and they rely on you to be responsible.

Medical conditions of those involved should always be taken into account before any play session takes place, but this is more important in bondage. People with a heart condition, breathing problems or those who suffer from fits or epilepsy should avoid bondage altogether, common sense should always be applied, as bondage can put undue stress on a person suffering with these conditions.

Rope can cause burns or splinter the skin, always make sure you use the appropriate rope for bondage. Always test the rope before you use it on your own skin to see how far it will travel before it is felt. Other than polypropylene ropes, natural fibres should be used. Polypropylene ropes are unsuitable as they shed minute splinters. Natural fibre rope can be prickly and rough to the touch but can be washed in fabric conditioner before use. Rope less then 1/4" should be avoided. Again common sense is paramount and if unsure, ask someone who knows what they are doing.

To minimise the risk of strangulation, never ever tie a noose around anyone's neck. Use the halter neck style, as pressure is then placed on the back of the neck and not on the throat. Always be aware where the rope is and that it is firmly in place with knots, as rope and knots can slip and cause injury. Make sure you learn how to tie a knot properly if you don't know ask someone who does, never assume that you know how to do it. To minimise the risks of choking, never leave a person who is gagged alone and always use a good quality gag not make shift one where the risk of swallowing where airways can be obstructed, remember someone who is wearing a gag within bondage play sessions can not remove it themselves. As said previously always check breathing and if someone has breathing problems whist engaged in play sessions make sure you know they can communicate with you. Do not tie too tightly around the rib cage or chest area. Never leave anyone in a stressed/fixed position for too long as muscles can become over stretched and exhausted and can result in positional asphyxia. Monitor the bound person at all times, especially if someone is suspended.

Lack of circulation can occur and the feeling of pins and needles or numbness means the blood flow is not right and the bound person should be released at once. This can be avoided by keeping a little slack on the ropes, use the one finger method, if you can slip one finger between the rope and the skin then this is good practice. Remind your bound person to communicate with you at all times and not to try and be a hero if they get tingling or feel uncomfortable then the session has to end, further discussion can happen at a later date. Never tie knots on pressure points or blood vessels like the inside of wrists and always tie above joints and not on them. Check for temperature and skin colour, a good test is to squeeze a finger or toe nail to see how fast the colour comes back, the slower it is the worse the circulation is.

To minimise nerve damage stick with the one finger rule as explained in the last section. To help it is worth finding out where the major nerves are so that you can avoid them. Suspension bondage is a risk in itself if not done properly, but added stress on the nerves can be avoided if done properly, the most common are under the arms and the chest.

Just a few points to go over again:

  • Never ever put a rope across anyone's throat or anywhere that can obstruct breathing or circulation.
  • Always stay with a bound person and check circulation, temperature and breathing, communicate with them at all times.
  • Never bind around anyone's joints, bind above or below.
  • Leave slack on any rope and always remember the one finger method as explained.
  • Never engage in any type of bondage activity if you have no knowledge or experience.
  • Don't try and be a hero it can lead to serious injury or even death.

Here are many areas that you need to avoid, it is your place to find out what they are and what area to avoid.

  • Neck/throat: trachea, carotid arteries, jugular artery, cervical vertebrae.
  • Armpits: brachial artery, brachial vein.
  • Inner arm: bicep, brachial artery, medial coetaneous nerve, cephalic vein, basilic vein, medial coetaneous nerves.
  • Elbow: lateral and posterior coetaneous nerve of forearm.
  • Inner thigh: femoral artery, femoral vein.
  • Back of knee: Nerves and arteries.

Breath play/asphyxia

There are no safety measures to this type of play that I can tell you, it is a dangerous practice and can lead to unconsciousness and even death. My advice really, is do not pretend this is a safe thing to do. There are no safety rules within this play and it can lead to long term conditions or illness. There is no right way to practice this, there is no way that you can determine anyone's state of unconsciousness. Do not play god with someone else's life.

Candle play/Wax play Safety

There are many different types of candles and they give off different types of heat or burn at different temperatures. Wax candles that burn at high temperatures can burn the skin and cause serious injury. Try and avoid getting wax into hair as it can be difficult to remove, it is suggested that you apply mineral oil or lotion before application of wax, it can make removal easier. Try and avoid using candle that burn at a higher temperature like beeswax ones and taper ones, these have stearime in them and burn at higher temperatures than normal pillar or paraffin ones. Never leave candles unattended and it is advisable to cover any bedding or linen as it is hard to get off or wash out. Be cautious if you have any infections or disease, be cautious and use common sense.

Enema Safety

The amount of liquid a person can take varies from person to person. Take into account how empty they are, how they are positioned and their level of stress. Be very careful when using alcohol as the colon absorbs the alcohol more quickly, leading to a high. Crucially the colon has no vomiting reflex, the bodyís natural protection and high concentrates of alcohol can cause cell damage or even death from alcohol poisoning. A good rule to remember is to use a lower concentrated drink such as beer and only use a pint. Be aware that enemas that are done frequently can cause long term damage to the bowel and there may be a loss of natural bowel movements. It's been known that some extreme recipes have caused harm and damage the body, you may experience cramping. Good advice is that if you wouldn't put a liquid in your mouth, then do not put it in your butt!!

Electro stimulation/Electrical Play Safety

Electro stimulation can be dangerous and is fatal if misused. The biggest risk is that it can stop the heart even at low voltage so caution is paramount. It's important to keep any current path away from the neck, chest and head; generally keep it below the waist. Steer clear of any permanent piercings as this can cause a burn. Never use any system with water and always read instructions before using any equipment. Common sense goes a long way, familiarise yourself with any electro system, its uses and effects it may have. Never use any type of electro stimulation on anyone that has a heart or nerve condition, anyone who is fitted with a pacemaker, insulin pump or any other medical implant, someone with a history of strokes, seizures or has epilepsy, and never use it on someone who is pregnant.

Gags Safety

Even though gags are used in many play sessions and can be used in conjunction with other methods of BDSM activities, it has been known in isolated cases that death has occurred due to chocking, vomiting and asphyxia. So the use of a gag can be potentially dangerous, but the risks can be reduced if the person that is gagged is never left alone and other forms of communication are in place if the person becomes stressed in anyway. Never use a gag on anyone who has breathing problems such as asthmatics, someone with a common cold, has catarrh, hay fever or flu as most gags inhibit breathing through the mouth. Where possible have additional ways to communicate in place such as a solid object held in the hand of a gagged person so they can drop it if distressed in anyway. Some types of bondage are not advisable with gags and common sense is paramount.

Genitorture Safety

With any practice of this nature great care must be taken, communication is crucial and prolonged sessions of binding, or clamps should be avoided. Great damage can occur to the scrotum, ball sack or the foreskin of a male, and the clitoris, pussy lips or labia of a female. People's level of tolerance varies from one to the other, so always start out lightly and build intensity gradually. Make sure safewords are in place and if used make sure acted upon immediately. Do not bind the shaft of the penis or ball sack for a prolonged amount of time this can lead to circulation problems, remember to not tie knots as these can not be undone easily; it's best to use bows in any binding of this nature. Good practice is to restore circulation every 20/30 minutes and any binding or harnesses should not be left on overnight. Basic torture tools are finger nails, clamps or pegs, toothpaste, wooden spoons, ice, wax, whips, weights and pumice stone for abrasion. All should be used with care and communication is paramount

Ice Play Safety

There are just a few things that I need to point out here, if ice is broken if can have sharp bits and can cause injury. Prolonged use of ice can lead to frost bite but this is very rare. Always use a water based ice and common sense will tell you not to mix this type of play with electro play it can be very dangerous. Remember that ice taken straight from the freezer can stick to the skin and even burn, avoid this by ensuring the ice is wet before touching the skin.

Negotiation, Boundaries and limits

Negotiating, boundaries and limits should always be put in place before any type of play session, by the Dominant and the submissive, a top or bottom or any third party. All aspects of the lifestyle or just a scene are discussed and the SSC approach within BDSM requires this explicitly. Negotiating is an ongoing process as it can change often as limits are reached. Obviously negotiating is a way a Dominant or a top can learn about a submissive or bottom and for a submissive or bottom to learn about the Dominant or top, all limits can be discussed and put in place. Sometimes verbal negotiations are not enough, they may work for short term play sessions or an inexperienced submissive, but people within the lifestyle tend to do this with a checklist and both the Dominant and the submissive can fill it in. This can be crossed referenced and negotiated at set times, to meet both the Dominants desires and needs as well as those of the submissives. In doing this the limits and boundaries which are set may be explored and if appropriate pushed to the next level.

Negotiation itself can be a scene, if a Dominant has a new submissive, they could be given a safeword and then negotiate limits of sessions by being interrogated, but this can be discussed beforehand if this is what a submissive would like to do.

There are a few main points that I would like to cover but if you are not sure ask a more experienced Dominant or take a look at our check list which is in the BDSM in practice section. Main points of negotiation are:

  • Who is involved and is going to take part
  • What role you are; a Dominant or a submissive or a switch
  • Where the scene is going to take place and how long the scene is going to last
  • Discuss all safety measures
  • Discuss limits and boundaries and whether they can be pushed
  • Make sure a safeword is in place or a way to communicate before any play takes place
  • What type of play, impact, sensation, electro etc and at what level the submissive is at, can you leave marks from impact toys, can you be humiliated verbally or other wise, if there is anything else they would like to try and do that they hasn't been done before within limits
  • Finally agree a time a session ends and make time to wind down and discuss the play session likes and dislikes and re-negotiate.

Needle Play Safety

Only ever use a sterile needle approved for medical use, never ever re-use them and make sure they are disposed of in a sharps container. Only ever insert needles into the skin and not into any organs, bones, or eyes and be very careful around muscle areas. If you have never used needles it is advisable to learn from an expert and practice can take place on raw chicken flesh. Needles should only be inserted just under the surface of ordinary skin and to emerge a short distance away from where it has been inserted, avoid areas where bones are close, for example near joints where nerve tracts are. Always make sure the area that you pierce is cleaned and disinfected and this can be done with iodine, alcohol or BAC, make sure you have wide knowledge before taking part in any activity of this nature. Never pierce through the wrists, hands, or near the spine, waist to shoulder are usually fine but avoid the armpits and sternum. Do not think you can do this type of play from a book or copy it from pictures; you may permanently harm or injure someone.

Sensory Deprivation Safety

Someone who has been involved with any type of sensory deprivation can become disorientated and feel like they have lost time. A few minutes of our time can seem like hours to them, they may become dehydrated and it can also leave them with an unhappy feeling even though they may have endured much pleasure and enjoyed themselves. It's advisable to limit sessions involving high levels of sensory deprivation, the Dominant should be fully aware of the submissive and keep a watchful eye over them throughout the session. If you are new to this type of play it is advised that you start off with partial deprivation and build from there. Even if you are using blindfolds alone it can still lead to distress and care must be taken if the submissive is left to their own devices, as it can lead to disorientation and maybe injury to themselves. Check the person at regular intervals and make sure they are comfortable if any bondage is involved. Also read Bondage safety Measures.

Safe Sex

Safe sex or safer sex is a practice to reduce the risk of STIs. Safer sex has become more prominent these days due to the HIV and AIDS epidemic, but worryingly also the increase in Chlamydia and other STIs. Practicing safe sex reduces the risks of exchange of bodily fluids during sexual activities. The only safe way in which we can all practice safer sex and reduce the risk is minimise the numbers of sexual partners, regardless of whether you are single or in an open relationship where others are invited to play. Donít put yourself at risk by clouding your judgement through drug use or even excessive alcohol. Know what you want and be strong about your own limits and ensure if having sexual contact of any form, protection is used, such as a condom. Don't put yourself or others at risk of any infections and always practice safer sex.

Water Sports and Brown Showers Safety

This kind of fetish or play can cause serious health risks to those who participate. The ingestion of faeces or urine is potentially hazardous as there is a risk of diseases such as hepatitis or infections from bacteria. Bacteria from the bowel is not safe to ingest. Urine can carry bacteria too if diseases or bacterial infections of the urethra are present, and may cause secondary effects such as skin rashes.

HIV can be passed through urine but drinking urine from a person who is healthy is generally safe in small quantities, the main danger is the high salt and mineral content and it is suggested that water or diet soda is drunk afterwards to dilute. It is also suggested that several hours before such a session the person drinks water and diet soda before someone drinks their urine, to dilute and sweeten the urine. As urine has a high concentration of acid it is good practice to clean and brush your teeth afterwards as this can lead to tooth enamel damage.