Japanese BDSM, Bondage. Shibari & Kinbaku
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Medical and health information meant for general educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as a substitute for consultation with your physician
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BDSM Health & Safety 1
Finding safety information on the Internet
Most of the health and safety information available on the Internet, refers to the specific USA situation, which is totally different from Asia or Europe. And, the reliability of much of the information provided on the net is often questionable. Quality is not always easy to determine. POWERotics & Friends is one of the very few erotic power exchange oriented projects that has both a qualified medical editor and a professional and licensed psychologist in its team. Especially when it comes to health and safety related subjects: be extra critical. Do not believe everything you read, especially not the advice given in newsgroups or on discussion lists. Don't let any urban legend scare you away from talking to your doctor if you have medically related questions, including prevention.
To find reliable information, best turn The Erotic BookStore for wellrespected books. Finally, always use your own common sense. If anything sounds alien or strange to you, trust your instincts ... they are likely to be right.
The end of one urban legend
If you are a somewhat experienced Internet user, you have probably read the following statement over and over again: "The are no SOP's (standard operating procedures) when it comes to BDSM". That is a very dangerous statement. Although it is true in the sense that people should find their own form of relationship and should decide for themselves what they do and do not want, the ARE standard operating procedures when it comes to health, safe sex, BDSM safety and protecting yourself as well as your partner. Ignoring these can be dangerous to say the least.
The BDSM Concepts: Safety Cornerstones
Understanding about some elementary concepts of erotic power exchange is safety tip Number 1. If you understand negotiation, safewords and the difference between inequality and inequavalence you have taken the first steps on the safety ladder.
Concept 1: Common sense
Some people who enter into erotic power exchange sometimes seem to forget they have it. Common sense will answer most of your questions on safety. A scene may be heavy and sweep your feet of the ground. Still, although you may lose your head, don't lose your brain in the process.
Concept 2: Negotiation
The most important concept is negotiation. Partners negotiate about their fantasies, feelings, needs, dreams, barriers and hidden desires. The objective is to exchange your feelings, barriers and fantasies in an open and honest way. In fact there is no other relationship that requires this much communication. You talk about what you feel and what you experience before, after and in between scenes. NOT during a scene. Negotiated/communicated barriers should be respected at all times.
Concept 3: Shared and equal responsibility
Within a scene or even within a BDSM-relationship partners may choose to be unequal to each other, based on a free will and choice. Both partners however ALWAYS share an equal responsibility towards themselves, each other and safety matters. Mis- or non-communication, withholding valuable information, not telling each other about any aspect of a scene or relationship may lead to mishap. Even if you are not happy with a situation; tell your partner about it. And, don't put all the responsibility on the dom's shoulders.
Concept 4: Safewords
A safeword is your emergency break when "in scene." Safewords can be used by doms and subs at any moment anything gets too tough, too scary, just annoying or for whatever other reason. Since standard words like "stop" or "no" in a steamy erotic scene may have a different meaning, safewords will usually be words or expressions that do not fit into an erotic scene. Quite a few people use the colours of a traffic light: "green" for "please go on," "yellow" for "slow down, and "red" for "full stop". Safewords, like barriers, should be respected at all times.
Concept 5: The freedom of choice
Erotic power exchange is based on mutual agreement to whatever it is you would like to do. If one of the partners, for whatever reason, feels that he or she should not get into something, DON'T DO IT. Even if somebody else tells you it is perfectly safe. You are the master of your own fantasies and best equipped to judge about your feelings and emotions and there is no difference between being of a dominant or submissive nature in this area.
Ten clever do's and don't's when you are entering into an erotic power exchange scene
The world is full of idiots and dangerous people and the erotic power exchange community is no exception to that rule - neither in a positive nor in a negative way.
It is wonderful when you discover your own emotions and it is great, super, awsome or whatever that you can relate to others who share these emotions. That - as such - can be an overwhelming experience. But that is no reason to suddenly drop all your natural safety shields.
There is no way you can tell for sure that someone, who seems to be so wonderful in a chatroom or on a discussion list, in real life is so wonderful as well and - unfortunately - there are quite a few reports about first dates between people who met on the Internet, that turned into absolute disaster, either emotionally, or physically, or both.
Although there is no reason to be dramatic about this, it is only wise to be "en guarde", especially when it comes to first and second real life meetings. And it is also not a matter of "bad dominants" only. Of course there are men around with the wrong intentions. There are however just as many reports about "submissive women" that turned out to be outright criminals or serious psychiatric cases.
People with longtime support group experience will tell you that the credo "never ever have a first meeting in your home" has been around for ages and for very good reasons. People are easily lured into something they do not want to do when they are vulnerable and talking about or dealing with intimate and very personal emotions like erotic power exchange and sexuality.
In your dreams and fantasies anything is possible. Doing this in reality may be quite different. DO slow down on your fantasies. Take it one step at the time. DON'T confront your partner with an exact scheme of what you think is supposed to happen. Share ideas and dreams and leave sufficient space for each other to fill in whatever it is you like.
DO establish safewords or other signals. If for whatever reason you do not want to use safewords, tell your partner about this and agree on this first. DON'T disrespect safewords.
DO communicate with each other about both fantasies and barriers. DON'T withhold valuable information. "I don't like this or that" is also valuable information. If you do not tell your partner, how is he or she supposed to know?
DO try and be as clear about the signals you send out as you can, even when "in scene". DON'T expect your (dominant) partner to be clairvoyant.
DO buy quality toys and gear. DO make a habit of testing locks, rings, hooks and suspension gear every time before you use them. DON'T go for cheap toys. You may save money, but in fact you will get into trouble.
DON'T overestimate yourself. Getting a hundred lashes in your dreams is not quite the same as ten "live" ones. Never promise, or threaten with, things you are not yet certain about for yourself. DO get inspired by what other people do but DON'T think "Oh, I can do this or that" without making sure you can.
DO concentrate on the game and on your partner.
Alcohol, drugs or poppers make a scene unsafe. They will suppress your pain-sensation and will pump up your level of general acceptance beyond your control. When in scene your body produces endorphins (a natural opiate) and adrenaline. External stimuli will only come on top of this.
DO tell each other about physical, mental or medical problems, recent medical treatment and possible medication, if you are taking any.
DO be prepared for intense emotions and fierce reactions but DON'T let all this scare you away from all the fun, intens love and great sensations an erotic power exchange scene can bring about.
Safe Sex & Safe Play
Safe sex is a must, not only from an HIV point of view. Generally speaking, an erotic power exchange scene is not more dangerous than any other form of sex, provided you take sufficient precautions.
Condoms - Always use a condom when penetrating, either vaginal or anal. Using condoms when having oral sex is generally advised (you can buy flavoured condoms for this purpose).
Do use condoms when penetrating with vibrators, dildos or other toys. When in scene, it is very likely your toys will lay about and attract dust and germs. Using condoms on your toys will keep them in a better condition as well and makes them easier to clean afterwards.
Some women will show allergic reactions to the lubricant that is standard on most condoms. If you are not sure, buy non-lubricated condoms with a separate, water based lubricant.
Dental dams - It is a must to use dental dams when rimming (licking the outside anal area) and it is generally advised for oral-vaginal contact.
Latex gloves - Latex gloves will protect yourself and your partner from all sorts of things. When penetrating either the vagina or anus, wear gloves. Especially when you are fisting (vaginal or anal).
Lubricant - Lubricant makes it easier to penetrate, both vaginal and anal. Buy only water based lubricants. Oil or petroleum based lubricants will ruin your condoms and other latex protective gear in seconds (this goes for your valuable latex clothing as well!!). Be aware of the fact that massage oil, baby oil and butter will have the same effect on latex.
HIV risks - All the general stuff about HIV infection (direct body fluid contact) of course goes for erotic power exchange as well. Take extra precautions when you are whipping and (accidentally) draw blood or when you are into needle play. Nipple clamps sometimes may cause bleeding of the nipples, especially while your sub is having her period. Intens stimulation of the nipples - clamps, binding and piercing(!!) - may incidentally cause the nipple to lactate slightly. Even some men will start to produce small amounts of lactate sometimes! Lactate may very well contain the HIV virus.
Extra precautions should, of course, be taken if you are into edge play situations.
Other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD's)
Alternative sexual games open new possibilities for STD infection. Most of these are caused by viruses and are easy to catch if you allow them to enter a body opening (sex organ, mouth or small wound). We will give some short descriptions here:
Hepatitis - is an inflammation of the liver. There are different forms (A and B are the most common), caused by a virus. Symptoms may vary from relatively harmless flu type reactions to fatal liver diseases (type C).
Herpes - (also around in different forms) causes small fluid filled blisters. The blistering will not be triggered by the disease but by external factors like exposure to the sun, emotional stress, another illness or fever. The blisters may appear on and around the mouth, the genitals or other parts of the body, depending on the type. Herpes is not fatal, but may cause complications with other infections and sometimes can be painful. Herpes simplex, that may cause blisters on the mouth and/or genitals, cannot yet be cured.
Syphilis - rare, but still around. It causes swellings on the body that will leave a scar after healing. Unrecognized syphilis will eventually ruin the vascular and nervous systems and cause death.
Genital warts - (small swellings in and around the genitals) They may cause the development of cerv ix cancer and should be taken seriously. They need early and repeated treatment.
Gonorrhoea - may cause sterility (men) or inflammation of the Fallopian tube (women). An infected women may pass it on to the eyes of a newborn child when the infection occurs during pregnancy.
Chlamydial and Ureaplasmal infections - are the most common group of STD's. They are likely to cause all sorts of diseases. Treatment and interruption of sexual contacts is advised. This group spreads easily and rapidly. Dirty hands or fingernails when penetrating or dirty toys are the most common causes.
We have mentioned only the most common STD's here, there are a lot more around. When in doubt, always check with your doctor. You may be embarrassed about it. This is only natural and the doctor will understand this. Remember, it may the first time you are confronted with STD, but the doctor has seen it all before. Not seeing the doctor in almost all cases leads to trouble. Most of the STD's will not go away by themselves and some are nasty and persistent.
Some BDSM techniques may be responsible for transmitting STD's
Unprotected toys - are the most common transmitter of bacteria and are likely to cause one of the infections, mentioned above. Even if it has just been laying around for a while it may have picked up bacteria. When you penetrate, always use a condom and do not forget your wonderful penis-shaped whip grip.
Bondage ropes - when used in the genital area, are another transmitter of disease. The general advice is to wash your ropes regularly, disinfect them and reserve marked ropes for these areas.
Nipple clamps - are another well known toy in this area. Regularly clean and disinfect them.
Leather - is a living material and germs and bacteria will nest in it, especially if these toys have not been used for some time.
Whipping - causes the small veins in the skin to open up and send blood to the whipped area. This creates an expressway for viruses and bacteria to infiltrate the body and not only the STD-related ones. You should be aware of this phenomena, especially when whipping the genital area. Extra attention to hygiene and regular cleaning and disinfecting of whips is required.
First aid kit
It is always advisable to be aware of possible risks and to take precautions when necessary. This goes for having a first aid kit around as well. Mishaps always occur. Any general first aid kit will do, with two extras: first of all a pair of bandage scissors. These will enable you to quickly and safely cut ropes and even leather straps when you need to. Bandage scissors avoid harming your partner unintentionally. Next to this it is handy to have freeze spray (or cold spray) around for muscle treatment (makes a wonderful toy as well).
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