BDSM Participants Have “almost No Concerns” About Lifestyle, Study Finds

BDSM practitioners might be more sexually satisfied and have fewer sexual concerns than people who are not involved with BDSM, according to a recent Journal of Sexual Medicine study.

The acronym BDSM refers to “bondage-discipline, dominance-submission, sadism-masochism,” a group of sexual behaviors that may include role playing, control, pain, or humiliation. Such practices are consensual, and participants negotiate the types of activities they share and the roles they play, such as dominant (dom – a person who controls), submissive (sub – a person who submits to that control), and switch (a person who switches between dominant and submissive roles, depending on the context.)

“BDSMers” often face stigma because their activities are considered unusual or harmful. In the current study, researchers explored the ways gender and role influence BDSM experiences, sexual satisfaction, and dysfunction in one BDSM community.

Two hundred sixty-six consensual BDSM practitioners (141 men and 125 women) in Italy completed questionnaires on their BDSM roles and practices, sexual concerns and problems, and sexual satisfaction.

For comparison, data from a control group of 100 men and 100 women were collected from an Italian database on sexual functioning. The control group’s sociodemographic data were similar to those of the BDSM group.

In the BDSM group, the men tended to be older than the women, with average ages of 44 years and 39 years, respectively. Dominant roles were more likely to be played by men, with submissive roles more common in women. Twenty-eight percent of the men and 23% of the women played switch roles.

Dominance/submission activities were most popular, rated as a favorite by about 90% of both men and women. Just over half of each group identified sadism/masochism as a favorite. Fetishes were preferred by more men (44%) than women (26%).

Both male and female BDSMers had “almost no concerns” about their BDSM fantasies and behaviors. “This could be reasonable because most of the participants were active parts of the BDSM community, and group connection inside sexual minorities may effectively help in decreasing concerns and increasing affiliation and exploration of BDSM practices,” the authors wrote.

Rates of negative consequences were similar for both genders and all BDSM roles, with relationship problems being the most common, reported by 18% of the men and 16% of the women. None of the participants had experienced any penal or justice consequences due to their BDSM lifestyle.

The dominant and switch groups tended to be more sexually satisfied than the submissive or control groups. They also reported fewer sexual health concerns and less distress than the submissive and control groups. The authors noted these results might be linked to a sense of control for dominant BDSMers and both control and flexibility for those switch roles.

The authors acknowledged that the BDSMers’ results in this study may not apply to BDSMers elsewhere, especially since they were part of a BDSM community, which might offer more support.

They called for more research on BDSM communities and subgroups within those communities, as well as acceptance and stigma related to BDSM lifestyles.

“In general, it should be considered how following personal erotic fantasies, discussing and exploring them in a protected community and environment that accepts without judging, might have a positive effect on sexual function and quality of life,” they concluded.

Resources

International Society for Sexual Medicine

“If a person engages in kink sexual behaviors, should his or her doctor know?”

https://www.issm.info/sexual-health-qa/if-a-person-engages-in-kink-sexual-behaviors-should-his-or-her-doctor-know/

The Journal of Sexual Medicine

Botta, Daniela, PsyD, et al.

“Are Role and Gender Related to Sexual Function and Satisfaction in Men and Women Practicing BDSM?”

(Full-text. Published online: February 4, 2019)

https://www.jsm.jsexmed.org/article/S1743-6095(19)30002-5/fulltext

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