A Guide To Breath Play

Man on top of woman in bed

Breath play – whether strangulation, suffocation or other – often involves losing oxygen and can be incredibly dangerous. But if done safely and correctly, it is incredibly sexy and can enhance an orgasm. And so it one of the most controversial topics in the kink community. Some say the risk is part of the appeal and it encourages safe practice, other say the benefits just don’t outweigh the risks. If you and your partner decide to try your hands at breath play, be aware of the risks and discuss it in-depth beforehand.

How does it work?

The carotid arteries on the sides of the neck carry oxygen-rich blood to the brain, so restricting that blood flow produces feelings of light-headedness, which heightens sensations during sex. When the pressure is released, the rush of oxygen back to the brain gives a sense of euphoria.

What are the dangers?

Breath play is dangerous and although there are ‘safe’ ways to do it, it is similar to saying there are ‘safe’ ways of swimming with sharks. There are precautions that reduce the risk, but it is still a risky activity that puts the submissive in danger. Any form of breath play has its risks. These risks depend on the age and health of the individual, and the specific type of breath play you are participating in. Any pressure put on the neck runs the risk of causing severe, and potentially permanent, damage to the carotid arteries. This can lead to numbness, dizziness, and difficulties speaking.

The larynx is incredibly fragile and easily injured – even a minor injury to the larynx, may cause swelling of the airways leading to coughing, choking, the inability to speak, and possibly the inability to breath. Another associated physical problem is cerebral anoxia, which is the total absence of oxygen within the brain tissue. If oxygen is prevented from reaching the tissues for too long, tissue death can occur and result in irreversible brain damage. If the circulation to the brain is insufficient for more than three to five minutes the consequent damage can lead to death – this can occur days or weeks after the initial incident.

These are just a few from the long list of physical dangers. Although stroke, heart attacks, and brain damage are dramatic possibilities, they are still very real possibilities that you and your partner should be aware of.

Do’s and Don’ts of Breath Play

So you’ve gotten this far and are still drawn to the idea of breath play? Here are some pointers to keep in mind.

Do

Experiment with the command only breath play.

Always ask about the health condition of your submissive before the session. Asthma, allergies, claustrophobia, and sickness can cause shallow breathing and could result in complications during your scene.

Make sure you have all the necessary equipment and are CPR trained.

Aftercare following an intense scene is important. Take the time to show your submissive that they are safe and cared for, and how much it means to you that they gave you their ultimate trust.

Stop the scene immediately if you suspect something is wrong. Respecting your submissive is key to a safe and healthy BDSM relationship.

Don’t

Go for the throat. It is a delicate and dangerous area that only needs a minimal amount of pressure to cause some serious damage.

Rush into it. Take your time to read up on breath play, familiarise yourself with the dangers, and make sure you really know what you are doing.

Try something intense if your partner is not 100% committed.

The thrill is adrenaline-charged and kinky, the moment is a wondrous flow of anticipation, fear, and adrenalin. But the appeal is not actually cutting off your partner’s oxygen supply; for the dominant partner it is the feeling of total control and for the submissive it is the feeling of vulnerability – this can be achieved without actually taking away the ability to breath. Always keep this in mind when experimenting with breath play.

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