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Tina and BDSM

‘BDSM’ is an umbrella term that refers to: bondage and discipline; dominance and submission; sadism and masochism. Sometimes it’s used to represent other forms of kink and fetish play as well. In general, BDSM is about the consciously experienced interplay between body, mind, and soul. A clear, conscious mind can facilitate an immensely rewarding experience. This is much more difficult or even impossible for most of us to achieve when we’re high.

Risks are higher in BDSM play than in other forms of sexual expression by definition. Why? Because BDSM involves exploring or expanding limits. What kinds of limits? Limits can be psychological, emotional, physical and spiritual and usually in some combination. Limits and their combinations are complex.

Exploring limits involves playing at the edge of safety. Knowledgeable and experienced players have learned about the risks and practiced ways to minimize them. We acknowledge this inherent challenge by labelling this practice of BDSM as ‘safer,’ not ‘safe.’ This is not a matter of semantics or political correctness, but a matter of fact.

There are tremendous rewards from pushing limits and expanding trust. However, things can and do go wrong, even for those of us who know how to manage the risks well. The consequences of ‘scenes’ gone wrong can be catastrophic. Fisting scenes that can lead to punctured intestines. Suffocation scenes that can lead to death. These things have happened.

The effects of Tina in a sexual context can work against the already difficult challenge of managing risks in a BDSM scene. Tina tends to reduce inhibitions; diminish our ability to register pain signals; deplete our energy reserves allowing us to play much longer than we would otherwise; and contribute to strong feelings of insatiability that may easily drive us past safer limits. For these reasons, please be extremely cautious when using Tina in BDSM contexts, or separate using from BDSM play altogether.

If you chose to use Tina during BDSM play, here are strategies for managing some of the risks:

Establish a Baseline.

Establishing a baseline with a new partner or in new roles or scenes, enables both the top and bottom to gain the full satisfaction that BDSM play can bring. A baseline experience ensures greater self-awareness, reducing the likelihood that a bottom or top are going to move beyond their established limits when high.

For many bottoms the joy in sex play comes when we challenge ourselves to overcome our fears. Bottoms experience a sense or accomplishment through the conscious use of our mind and body beyond previous established limits. We often want to know that it is us and not Tina that enabled us to confront our fears and reach our goals. Gaining that awareness sober is empowering and rewarding.

For many tops, reward and accomplishment comes through the conscious, controlled movement of our bottoms to a place of desired and heightened sensation. We want to know that it was our efforts, not a substance that took us and our bottoms to the heights of ecstasy.

Once we’ve achieved that self-awareness, we can consider being high in our play with the knowledge that we have the power to overcome our fears independent of any substance. We are more likely to appreciate extraordinary scenes if our baseline is realistic. Be conscious of dependence however, and consider alternating ‘enhanced’ scenes with sober ones.

Understand Pain Signals and Know How Tina Impacts Them.

Physical pain isn’t part of all BDSM play and in fact some of us have a strong aversion to it. However, the experience of giving and receiving pain is involved in a wide variety of BDSM play including: tit play, cock and ball torture, flogging and whipping, blood sports like piercing and cutting, and fisting.

Pain can serve different purposes during BDSM play. For some of us, pain is the desired effect. Pain can cause the release of endorphins in the brain, creating a euphoric or ‘high’ feeling. The quantity of dopamine triggered by Tina is likely far greater than any amount achieved through the conscious manipulation of pain in a BDSM scene.

TIP: For more on Tina’s effects on the brain please click here.

Pain is also a signal from the body that something is happening that might put us at risk of harm. Some of us use pain as a way of identifying when we’ve reached our limits and when it’s time to signal to our partners that they’ve gone far enough. Experienced players learn to distinguish between pain that signals real harm, and pain which is more about discomfort and fear.

Using Tina in BDSM play will compromise the pain signal. It’s important to compensate for this handicap as much as possible. Some strategies include:

• Check in with each other more often.
• Take more frequent breaks.
• Increase your ability to see what you’re doing.
• Review or relieve bondage and restraints more frequently.
• Inspect for blood, cutting and bruising.
• Hydrate and snack.

If we engage in sex play that relies on physical pain to make us happy or keep us safe, there is significantly less risk while sober. The more aware we are of pain, and how pain relates to our safety, the more likely we’ll be able to identify that pain when we are high. We can use pain signals to set sexual limits.

Learn About The Risks.

Different activities present different kinds and levels of risk. For some, fisting is a safe and intense experience that brings the ultimate in intimacy, pleasure, and soulful connection. Inexperienced fisting that is rushed or fails to respect body sensations and limits can be harmful and potentially fatal. There are different risks associated with bondage than with play that includes blood sports or whipping.

TIP: Know the risks associated with the play you enjoy or want to try. Most play can be less risky if it’s done with knowledge and conscious intent.

The greater the risks inherent in the form of play, the greater the risks of engaging in that activity while high. If we aren’t confident about mastering the risks associated with our play, then it’s advisable to refrain from putting ourselves or our partners at risk. This is equally true for bottoms or tops in a BDSM scene.

Make Safer Choices.

Tina is notorious for leading us to transcend our sexual and safety limits. Guys who use Tina report higher rates of unprotected sex, condom breakage, physical and psychological damage, and sometimes an intense desire to engage in high risk sexual activities for which we have little or no experience.

If you are planning to use Tina with a sex partner, you would be safer to choose a partner who is sober, with whom we have experience with, who knows our limits and will respect them even if you beg for something different!

Most of us find that our pain tolerance while high is significantly expanded. Surface abrasions of the skin, even ones that don’t lead to bleeding, can make it easier for infection transmission. Choose sex play that is less risky for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) when we experiment with pain, play, and Tina. Bondage and corporal punishment would be safer than blood sports or fisting.

TIP: Know the risks of mixing Tina with other recreational drugs as well as prescription ones.

TIP: For more detailed information on safer SM practices please refer to the Safer SM Education Project Pamphlet

Adapted from ‘Getting the Most Out of Your SM &/or Leathersex Play,’ by Trevor Jacques, Duncan MacLachlan and James Murray,, 2002.

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