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4 Ways BDSM Can Be Healthy

August 07, 2022 4 min read

Is it healthy to be into BDSM?

More and more people are starting to recognize the benefits of BDSM. For example, it helps to reduce stress and even build trust in relationships. The BDSM community has faced controversy because of its conflicting representations in the media and even conflicting data presented by researchers and psychologists. Many of us have some interest in the BDSM lifestyle, whether we're into it personally or just hear about it at parties.

How does BDSM affect mental health?

Similar to kinks, which we covered in our previous article; Why Do You Have A Kink?, There is a lot of stigma surrounding BDSM in the mainstream media, so it can be hard to find people who are comfortable talking about it. However, the research is showing that there are many benefits to mental health from practicing BDSM and that it is a safe practice.

The most important thing to remember is that BDSM is not about inflicting pain on your partner. BDSM is about building trust and communicating your desires, and having the skills and knowledge to carry out those desires safely and respectfully. Everyone has a kink or two, whether they’ve admitted it or not.

If you’re struggling with trauma or mental illness, using BDSM to release your emotions or fantasies can be incredibly therapeutic. This is something you should discuss with a qualified therapist before you start engaging in kinky activities.

Does BDSM help anxiety?

Research suggests yes. In one study, scientists at the University of Sussex asked a group of experienced BDSM practitioners to describe their experience of being in the zone, or in flow. They found that these people entered a state of pleasure and enjoyment that’s very similar to the experience of athletic athletes who are at the top of their game.

The concentration needed to perform at your peak is like that of a chess player, whose goal is to not let anything distract him from his game. Researchers monitored the stress, testosterone, and cortisol levels of seven couples who engaged in BDSM.

The study also included other measurements. These were: the couples' physical proximity and distance between them; how close or far apart they sat; their relative mood, how they communicated in terms of how positive, negative, happy, sad, tired, etc., each partner was in comparison to the other.

How is BDSM healthy?

Well, how exactly is BDSM healthy? There are many misconceptions about BDSM and the activities that fall under its umbrella, but many of these misunderstandings are based on a lack of education and knowledge. Research has shown several ways in which mindfulness is positively associated with participants' mental and physical health, as well as deepening romantic relationships. If you're interested in exploring BDSM, we recommend that you have a candid, open discussion with your partner.

1. Reduced stress levels

Research has shown that practicing BDSM can trigger biological changes that resemble the zen you might feel during or after a yoga session,or the runner's high you get from intense cardio. In a series of studies from Northern Illinois University, researchers found that the participants in sadomasochistic scenarios who were the dominants had reduced levels of cortisol after the session ended, while the submissives experienced a spike in cortisol.

Not only does the reduction of cortisol make us feel better mentally, it can have a positive effect on our physical health. A lower cortisol level will help protect you against a wide range of illnesses, including high blood pressure, suppressed immunity, and insulin resistance.

2. Better communication skills

Exploring aspects of BDSM with your partner can improve your sexual relationship and ultimately bring you closer together. Lisa Hochberger, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in sex therapy, says experienced practitioners have high levels of sex education and communication skills.

People use many forms of safety precautions that involve a strong sense of negotiation and vulnerability. It's important to know that it's okay to be submissive or powerful in a consensual way in sex. Sex play roles do not equal emotional relationship dynamics or relationship power roles outside of sex play. Communication skills are a key ingredient in any recipe for a satisfying, healthy relationship.

3. Builds & deepens trust

Couples who are into kinky sex may be able to experience deeper feelings of trust in their relationship. There's a lot of evidence that practicing BDSM brings couples together. When it's done consciously, it can be a very powerful experience for a couple. When starting a new journey of any kind, it is always important to begin by discussing what interests you and what you want from the experience.

For example, what do they fantasize about? Are they secretly more turned on by being utterly submissive or by having total control? From there, they can start to map out scenarios that fit within those parameters. BDSM requires a lot of trust, but the intricacies of it call for participants to really double down on being vulnerable with each other.

4. Improves mental health

A research study from the International Society for Sexual Medicine was specifically designed to examine the mental well-being of people who are part of BDSM. They did so by asking key personality traits of each person, and their results show that these people have very specific personality traits. Traits included their attachment styles in relationships, general well-being, and how sensitive they were to rejection compared to those in a control group.

Researchers have long been skeptical about the psychological effects of bondage, discipline, and sadomasochism. However, a recent study revealed that the BDSM practitioners weren’t the psychologically broken people that many believed them to be. The participants in the BDSM group felt more secure in their relationships, were happier, felt more conscientious toward others, and were more open to trying new experiences.

When they were younger, these kids were anxious and sensitive to other people’s perceptions of them. However, through the "BDSM treatment", the kids showed a decrease in anxiety and sensitivity to others’ perceptions. All of these characteristics may possibly be indicators that BDSM may be positively correlated with some benefits.

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