Breathplay, otherwise known as erotic asphyxiation, is a form of sexual arousal or release that involves intentionally limiting or cutting off air supply for you or your lover - usually, this is achieved by choking or suffocating.
If breath play is something you’re interested in, there are 5 key things you need to know before attempting any form of breath play. While this isn’t a training guide on practicing breath play, there are a few tips in this article on the safer ways to enjoy erotic asphyxiation (EA).
Knowing about, researching and understanding the risks involved in breath play are important steps before engaging in this potentially dangerous kink.
Nothing in breath play is totally safe...this is a simple and undeniable fact. Engaging in any form of breath play can be dangerous.
Erotic asphyxiation can and will lead to serious injury if done incorrectly. Even when done correctly, the continued practice of EA can put strains on your body (such as damage to the heart or larynx, as examples).
If breath play is something you are interested in trying, the internet is the best starting point. There is so much information on EA available, and learning everything you can about the safest ways to perform breath play could mean the difference between a good night and a potentially devastating one.
Each and every time you and your partner practice any form of breathplay, there is a risk involved. And while that’s often part of the pleasure, it’s something not to be taken lightly. Even if you are both experienced and are familiar with breath play and each other, knowing what to do in case of emergency is an important first step.
Solo play (autoerotic asphyxiation) and partner play (erotic asphyxiation) are both more common fetishes than you may realize, and their spike in popularity may have a direct link to the porn we watch.
However, the choking and breath play shown in porn is vastly different than what we experience in our real-life interactions.
Mainstream porn doesn’t show negotiation, safe words or the actual “practice” of performing kinks that have potentially dangerous repercussions. The purpose of porn is to be effortless, sexy and fun, but anyone who has practiced more potentially dangerous kinks can tell you that there is a lot that porn skips over.
Porn makes EA look easy, exciting and fun - whereas real-life breath play practice is anything but simple, always requires an in-depth conversation before getting started and is often not practiced for nearly as long as what’s shown on screen.
When it comes to breathplay, even though there is no way to ensure complete safety, there are both correct and very incorrect ways to do this.
There are milder ways to perform EA, like light choking or covering of the mouth - and then there are ways that pose more risk, such as using ropes or belts to choke your partner. Each technique carries its own risk, and in general, using any kind of object to assist in strangulation immediately makes the risk higher.
While this isn’t a guide, below are some things you can do to lessen the chance of injury while practicing EA.
Communicate with your partner. Setting safe words (or actions, in case speaking isn’t possible), as well as carefully explaining what each person wants out of this experience are paramount in lessening the risk of harm or injury, and ensuring both you and your partner have a good time.
When it comes to choking with your hands, never place the brunt of the force at the front of the throat. Instead, the safer way to achieve a similar effect is by having the tension be at the sides of the throat, leaving your grip on the front of the throat very loose. This technique can prevent serious damage to the throat.
Healthy adults are unlikely the sustain permanent or severe damage if the choking is done in a quick-release kind of technique. In this type of breath play, it’s important to have the participant remain conscious. Tightening your grip for only a few seconds at a time can help ensure your partner doesn’t lose consciousness.
A loose grip, in the beginning, is always safest. You can apply hints of pressure here and there when things get going, but never begin by applying a lot of pressure, and never keep the same applied pressure for more than a few seconds
If you are the partner who is enacting the choking, be sure to not lean too much into the chokehold. Your partner’s throat cannot take the weight of your whole body.
There is really no denying the similarities between substance abuse and chronic EA practices. You like how it feels when you do it, you crave doing it again because of the feeling it gives, and soon enough you don’t get the same kind of satisfaction you did the last time - so you push it further next time you try. This is essentially the same cycle of addiction that people who abuse substances get stuck in.
Depriving your brain of oxygen leads to a surge in a feel-good chemical in our brains called dopamine, once you allow yourself to breathe again. This surge of dopamine in the brain can feel euphoric and intensify sexual arousal and pleasure.
As with an addiction to a substance, when you don’t get the same desired level of excitement or pleasure from breath play, you might be tempted to experiment with depriving yourself of oxygen for longer or using tools (such as belts, bags or gags) to achieve a more intense experience. This can obviously pose immense dangers, as you never really know when you’re going to pass out until you are actually losing consciousness and oftentimes, by then, it’s too late.
As such, it’s important to understand that asphyxiophilia is a very real subsection of the SMD (sexual masochism disorder) diagnosis - and that craving breath play and becoming obsessed with the idea of erotic asphyxiation can be incredibly dangerous.
Something that might come as a surprise to you, if you’re not a submissive, is that submissives actually do a lot of soul-searching to become comfortable with their preferred sexual role. It’s a misconception that submissives are totally under their dominant’s orders no matter the circumstance. In reality, breathplay is a form of submission that demands total self-awareness and hard boundaries.
If you are interested in having breath play performed on you, you need to decide exactly how submissive you are comfortable with being and never let anyone push you to go beyond that.