Breath-Play: Everything you need to know

Published : 2023-01-02 16:15:07
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Breath-Play: Everything you need to know

The term “breath play” refers to any sexual activity that involves restricting breathing. Often, in a BDSM relationship, a dominant will be restricting a sub's breathing, although you don't need to have a dom-sub dynamic to engage in this.

Perhaps the most well-known form of breathing is suffocation, but there are actually many forms. The breathing game may simply involve someone telling a partner to hold their breath. It can also mean covering someone's mouth and/or nose with your hand or a tool like a gas mask or hood. (As you might suspect, this is dangerous.) Some might even consider diving into the water during sex as a kind of breathing game.

Breath play is sometimes known as erotic asphyxia; autoerotic asphyxia is when someone cuts off their own air supply during masturbation. This act, by the way, has a long and peculiar history: in the 1700s, spectators watched hanging victims getting erections, and some doctors began using asphyxiation as a solution to impotence.

What is the connection between asphyxia and sexual arousal?

The breathing game can be exciting for some, because cutting off the brain's oxygen supply can make you feel dizzy. The body's natural response to shortness of breath – signaling danger to the body – is to release hormones like adrenaline and endorphins. The release of these hormones can contribute to increased sexual arousal. In partnered sex, some people are turned on by the power dynamics involved in the breathing game or like it to be an exercise in trust.

Why might people enjoy/engage in this type of activity?

Reduced oxygen or blood flow to the brain can lead to a feeling of dizziness and sometimes feelings of euphoria. Also, as part of a negotiated BDSM scene, there's a power dynamic at play - you've given permission for someone to do something to you that could kill you.

What are the risks involved?

There are some major risks with the breathing game, due to oxygen or blood deprivation in the brain. In the worst case, the person receiving it can die. This also puts the person restricting breathing at risk, as people cannot legally consent to being killed. There is also an inherent risk of causing cardiac arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat) and potentially cardiac arrest.

There are also less fatal risks, particularly if there is no education, discussion or consent. These include, but are not limited to: ligament damage, blood clots, bruising, emotional or psychological trauma, as well as the potential to be charged with assault if the person receiving it does not consent - not to mention, of course, the harm caused to the non-consenting partner.

Here are some safe alternatives you can try if you want to try breath-play with less risk:

Hold your own breath

The gift simply tells the sub to hold its breath for as long as possible before taking a breath. This is basically the same thing as the riskier version, but in a safer and better way and the obvious choice. You can also experience the two main components of the BDSM game: The thrill of the action itself, plus the thrill of the power exchange that you and your partner negotiated.

Try to hold your breath while masturbating

Again, who said you need accessories to try on? Simply holding your breath as if you were diving can give you the same feeling and exploration of the breathing game. Just please don't do this for so long that you get dizzy and/or pass out.

Play with wax

If you like perverted and risky sex, why not get involved with a game of wax? It involves dripping candle wax on your partner (or yourself) in a super sexy way.

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