What Is Sensation Play?

Sensation play harnesses the power of the senses to heighten sexual pleasure. Learn more about it to discover new ways to get turned on!

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Think about the last time you were super turned-on. Chances are, it wasn’t the result of direct sexual stimulation, but something much subtler. Your crush’s hand brushing against yours, the feeling of someone’s fingers running through your hair, or even the unique smell of a person you’re attracted to can bring on a flood of arousal. Sensation play emphasizes the pleasure that can come from this type of sensual stimulation.

With the goal of engaging all of the senses to heighten pleasure during sex, sensation play can include impact (spanking or striking with an implement), pressure, pain, temperature, restraint, scent, taste, sight, and sound. By putting the focus on pleasurable sensations throughout your body, sensation play can help you to let go of the pressures and inhibitions that often come with an exclusive focus on the genitals—as well as heighten your arousal.

Sensation play can include impact (spanking or striking with an implement), pressure, pain, temperature, restraint, scent, taste, sight, and sound.

For many people, incorporating sensation play during sex can open up entire new horizons of intimacy and pleasure. Curious about giving it a try? Read on for a brief guide to sensation play in all its forms.

Experiment With Smell, Taste, And Sound

Exploring the senses of smell, taste, and sound can be incredibly simple—and incredibly hot. Eating during sex play combines two of the most sensually gratifying experiences that exist, intensifying them both. Foods like ice cream, which is simultaneously sweet, creamy, cold, and wet, are particularly suited to sensation play.

Scent is also a powerful sense to play with, as it’s strongly tied to memory. Spritz on some of the perfume or essential oil you were wearing when you met your partner to spark a sense-memory of arousal. Or breathe in the natural scent of your partner’s body.

Exploring the senses of smell, taste and sound can be incredibly simple, and incredibly hot.

Play with hearing by whispering in your partner’s ear, or increasing the volume of your moans, gasps, and other sounds of appreciation. Amplify sexy wet sounds by adding lube. Talk dirty, or put on some music that turns you on!

Get Kinky With Pain And Temperature Play

Some people find that the rush of endorphins accompanying pain is an incredible way to explore their boundaries and enhance their sexual experience. Spanking with a hand or paddle, pinching, biting, or clamping the nipples, and delivering an intense jolt to bare skin with a flogger or pinwheel are some favorite methods of inflicting pleasurable pain on a partner.

For some people, the sharp cold of an ice cube pressed to the skin can enhance arousal; others prefer the warmth of (carefully applied!) hot wax.

Tickling your partner, or placing a vibrator on a body part other than the clitoris (the butt, the head and shaft of the penis, even the nipples, lips, and soles of the feet) can be mind-blowingly intense. For some people, the sharp cold of an ice cube pressed to the skin can enhance arousal; others prefer the warmth of (carefully applied!) hot wax.

Explore Power Play In The Bedroom

Being restrained by your partner with cuffs—or just by your partner’s hands—can add a feeling of (controlled) vulnerability that can be incredibly hot, and make each sensation that much more intense. You can also try wearing a blindfold to enhance your other senses.

Sensation Play Tips For Beginners

Sensation play can be emotionally intense, at times provoking feelings of vulnerability and anxiety. Especially for those who have experienced trauma, or struggled with any aspect of their sexuality or body image (which is most people!), trying something new, or exploring their boundaries, can bring up difficult memories and feelings.

As with any sexual interaction, communication—before, during, and after—is essential to successful sensation play. Talk with your partner beforehand about your desires and boundaries. If at any time you feel uncomfortable with what’s happening, take a break to check in with your partner, and make adjustments as needed.

As with any sexual interaction, communication—before, during, and after—is essential to successful sensation play.

For many people, talking and processing with their partner after a sexual encounter can help to increase confidence, calm nerves, and make the next experience even better. And don’t be afraid to laugh—maintaining a sense of humor is the best way to confront the awkwardness that can come up when you try something new!

Sensation Play: Experimenting Safely

Finally, there are some aspects of sensation play that are best left to the very experienced—or avoided entirely. Keep in mind these safety tips when trying out new kinky play:

  1. Breath restriction should only be done in a way that gives someone the ability to take a breath when they need to (i.e., asking them to hold their breath): choking or suffocation should never be attempted.
  2. Using ropes for restraint without the proper technique can cut off circulation or cause serious abrasions; for all but the most experienced bondage practitioners, leather or fabric cuffs (never metal handcuffs, which can break the skin) should be used.
  3. Hot wax should be used with caution, and never applied directly to the face or genitals.
  4. While advanced techniques like electrical stimulation, cutting, piercing, and branding can be amazingly hot, they require a high level of experience to be done safely, and shouldn’t be attempted by those new to sensation play.

If you want to expand your sexual repertoire, intentionally exploring a wider range of sensations during sex can be a great way to do so. Best of all, you don’t need fancy equipment or tons of experience—just dive in, get creative, and have fun!

Related Articles:

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What’s The Deal With Spanking?

How To Buy A Sex Toy

How To Talk Dirty

How To Make Out

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Video transcript

So I have a candle. Oh, this way So, candles, you can see this one's used. So I've done some temperature play But candles are a wonderful form of hot wax play. And so, hot wax play for people, excites them because it is one of those pain pleasure types of play, it's also just very erotic. The aesthetic of hot wax can be really beautiful for people. Seeing the wax on someone, peeling it off afterwards, even watching the candle drip onto someone. So for hot wax play, or temperature play, you're going to need to buy candles that are specifically used for kink, and that are used for hot wax or temperature play, because they burn at a lower rate than regular candles. Also, one of those things where you need to get a little bit more of information on technique, especially if you wanna use them on a sensitive area like someone's breasts or their genitals. If you're doing temperature play on someone's bum, you have a little bit more forgiveness room, but for someone who has really sensitive areolas, or nipples, or breasts, or you've made them really sensitive through massaging, or sucking, or beating, the increased sensitivity is also gonna add to the increased sensation of the hot wax. One tip I'll give you, 'cause if you run out and you're like, "I don't know, "I know how to do this, whatever. "Whatever Luna said" Buy the damn wax candles. Buy the proper candles. But one tip is to start from up high. So you're gonna hold your candle a lot higher. And if my hand is down here, maybe I want it to be even lower. So, the farther the distance between the candle and the drip of the wax, the less heat there's going to be when the wax touches the skin. As you start to learn someone's responses, that they can take a bit more, you can go a little bit closer and closer and closer, and making sure to check in all the time. But totally love temperature play.

What Is BDSM And Kink?

What is kink? What is BDSM? How do I know if kinky play is for me? Read on to explore bondage, spanking, role play, and more.

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The Quickie
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You may have seen the terms “kink” and “BDSM” online, on TV, or even on Tinder. What do they mean, and how do you know if you want to explore them? Here’s what you need to know before deciding if kink and BDSM are right for you.

What Is Kink?

“Kink” is a broad term for sex that’s not thought of as “traditional.” The most common definition considers kink to be anything outside of intercourse-based sex between two monogamous partners, particularly when it includes non-traditional desires and fantasies.

What Is BDSM?

BDSM is any consensual sexual activity involving bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism (hence the source of the letters B, D, S, and M). BDSM practice typically involves a power dynamic between partners, where it is understood that one will have more power during sex than the other. Healthy BDSM requires that all partners have consented to the roles they will play and understand the amount of power each will have.

What’s The Difference Between Kink And BDSM?

Kink and BDSM are often grouped together as non-traditional types of sexual activity, and sometimes it’s hard to tell them apart. The primary difference is BDSM involves a power exchange or differential between sexual partners, while kink describes a broader category of sex that can, but doesn’t have to, involve power dynamics. (You could even say BDSM is a type of kink.)

What Do The Different Letters Of BDSM Mean?

Bondage and discipline refer to restraining and punishing another person through mechanisms including, but not limited to, handcuffs or rope-tying, whipping, spanking, or otherwise physically controlling and impacting a partner.

BDSM is any consensual sexual activity involving bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism.

Dominance and submission refers to the roles partners take on during this type of sex, and the power each role has in the sexual relationship.

Sadism refers to the enjoyment of watching someone else experience pain while masochism describes pleasure at feeling your own pain.

What Are Some Other Types Of Kink And BDSM?

The list of categories within kink is near-infinite—after all, kink invites you to get creative!—but these are a few of the most common types.

  • Impact play: Involves using something, like your hands or an instrument, to strike another person during sex.
  • Group sex: Involves having sex with multiple people at once, sometimes with various power dynamics a la BDSM.  
  • Role-playing: Involves having sex where partners are pretending to be other people or non-human creatures, such as a predator and its prey, an animal and its owner, or people of radically different ages, such as an adult and a baby.
  • Sensation play: Involves sex where one person is either intentionally deprived of certain senses or has their sensations heightened. Examples of sensation play include using a blindfold to deprive a person of sight during sex, or incorporating ice or heat to induce temperature-based bodily sensations.
  • Voyeurism: Involves sex where one or more partners are aroused by the act of watching others naked or having sex.
  • Exhibitionism: Involves sex where one or more partners are aroused by the act of being watched while naked or having sex.

Sex toys and other equipment are a part of any types of BDSM and kink. If you’re interested in dipping your toe in the water there are a range of kinky toys for beginners to try out.

How Does Consent Relate To BDSM And Kink?

Healthy kink and BDSM depend completely on getting consent and establishing boundaries in advance. BDSM can be tricky to navigate because for some people, saying “no,” getting hurt, and even being abused are part of what gets them off.

BDSM practice typically involves a power dynamic between partners, where it is understood that one will have more power during sex than the other.

In order to have a healthy and safe BDSM experience with someone, it’s important that you trust each other completely, talk in advance about your desires and what you’d like to get from the experience, and establish what you do not want to do. It can also be helpful to determine a safe word or another agreed-upon way to tell your partner if you want to stop.

What’s A Safe Word?

For some people who participate in BDSM, verbally saying “no” to sex, acting as though they are being assaulted, or otherwise pretending not to enjoy what’s happening is part of their arousal. In order to make sure someone can opt out if they are no longer enjoying sex, some sex partners will utilize “safe words.” A safe word is an unusual word that’s code for “stop.”

A safe word is an unusual word that’s code for “stop.”

For example: If your kink fantasy is being penetrated against your will, saying “stop” might make you enjoy the experience more and doesn’t actually mean you want your partner to stop. But if you’ve established in advance that your safe word is “poodle”—you’d never say “poodle” during sex otherwise—saying “poodle” during sex would tell your partner if something is wrong and they should stop.

Should You Try Kink Or BDSM?

It’s up to you! If reading kinky fanfiction or scrolling through BDSM posts on Tumblr gets you going, you may want to explore bringing kink or BDSM into your sex life. Before you do, though, it’s important to talk through exactly what you’re interested in with your partner(s). Consent is at the heart of practicing kink in a healthy way. Explore to your body’s content—as long as everyone is on board.

Related Articles:

How To Do Bondage For Beginners

What Is Sensation Play?

What’s The Deal With Spanking?

Kinky Sex Toys For Beginners

What Are Consent Skills?

How To Introduce Sex Toys To Your Partner

References

Video transcript

You've heard of Fifty Shades of Grey or maybe you read the book or maybe you've seen the movie and you're wondering what exactly is BDSM? BDSM stands for bondage and discipline, domination and submission, sadism and masochism. These are a bunch of fancy words to just mean kink. Kink covers everything from masturbating with your partner to spanking, bondage, to caning and heavy whipping and scary things that may not be your thing, but maybe they are. See, kink means different things to different people. And there is no right. There's only what's right for you.

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