A Beginners Guide To Breath Play

Couple going upstairs to the bedroom

Breath play is a highly controversial form of edge play that involves the restriction of oxygen to increase erotic play or to intensify a sexual experience. This can be done solo (autoerotic asphyxiation) or through partner play. As with all forms of edge play, breath play carries higher risks than other forms of BDSM such as flogging or pony play. For this reason, it tends to divide 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, familiarise yourselves with the risks and discuss it in-depth beforehand.

So, what’s so sexy about breath play?

When oxygen is restricted, it can increase feelings of giddiness, lightheadness, and pleasure, which can heighten physical and sexual sensations.  And when the pressure is released, the rush of oxygen back to the brain gives a sense of euphoria.

For the Dom, the level of power and control can be just as addictive and pleasurable as the rush of euphoria for the Sub.

What are the dangers?

When it comes to breath play, most of us think of asphyxia play. This involves restricting the blood flow to the brain by putting pressure on the carotid arteries on the sides of the neck. This form of breath play is dangerous and needs to be discussed and planned in-detail beforehand. There are precautions that reduce the risk, but it is still a risky activity that puts the sub in danger. 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.

Other forms of breath play include hoods, breath-holding, breath-control, and nose pinching. These are the most common forms of breath play and carry fewer risks. Nevertheless, read plenty on these forms of play, the risks they carry, and what to do in case of an emergency.

The basics of breath play

So, this guide has taken your breath away and your keen to know more? Here are some pointers to keep in mind.

Do

1) Experiment with the command only breath play first. Start with asking your partner to hold their breath for 10 seconds, or to take longer breaths throughout your play session.

2) Always ask about the health condition of your sub before the session. Asthma, allergies, claustrophobia, and sickness can cause shallow breathing and could result in complications during your scene. If your partner is pregnant or has an underlying heart condition, do not engage in breath play.

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

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

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

Don’t

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

2) 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.

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

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