There’s a dangerous sex act making the rounds. For those under 30, it’s very common. For those over 30, there’s still a pretty good chance you’ve heard of it or have done it. Many enjoy it on a regular basis while others may only try it once or twice.
What is it?
Breath play. Breath play involves choking or strangling your partner – deliberately cutting off their air supply – to enhance the intensity of sex.
A lot of people are doing this. According to one US study, 58% of college students have done it. In the majority of instances, it’s the man doing the choking, but not always. Sex and relationship expert, Tracey Cox shared these stats with The Daily Mail, warning couples that breath play is actually incredibly dangerous.
“Most women think it’s safe. I’m here to tell you it isn’t,” Tracey shared.
We have porn to blame for the popularity of breath play as aggressive and rough sex acts are often part of these scenes. Choking, gagging, spitting, even. This is what people are watching and then bringing to the bedroom, especially the younger generation.
The dangers of breath play
There are a few big concerns surrounding breath play.
The first is that it’s actually really dangerous.
“When oxygen is restricted to the brain, you feel lightheaded and dizzy. When the pressure is released, the rush of breath that follows releases endorphins which create a feeling of heightened exhilaration. The body releases these hormones as a protective reaction, but it can feel pleasurable and result in intense orgasms.” Tracey explains.
“Sounds appealing? This pleasure comes at a cost. Get choking wrong – and it’s easily done – and it can lead to serious injury and even death.”
The main issue with breath play is that it’s very easy to cross the line and take it too far, which is incredibly easy to do during sex when you’re in the moment.
“Press on the larynx too hard and you can kill someone in under a minute. Let me repeat that: under one minute,” Tracey warns.
Breath play can also cause heart attacks, brain damage, a damaged larynx, aspiration (vomiting which can cause long-term breathing problems) and death. There are several minor side effects to be concerned about too – coughing, feeling disorientated, drowsiness, muscle weakness and a loss of coordination.
Breath play vs light choking
Keep in mind that there’s a difference between breath play and light choking – light choking involves your partner placing one or two hands over your throat and holding it there (or applying light pressure). Tracey addresses that this is reasonably safe.
“This is more about symbolism and fantasy. Having a man’s hands around your throat plays into fantasies about submission and ‘ravishment’.”
The concern of consent
Another big issue with breath play, especially for the younger generation, is that it’s not always consensual. Consent is a big deal and we hope that teens and young adults understand the importance of this. The issue is that often breath play is simply part of sex.
“It first happened to me when I was 18. It’s happened a lot since then and not once have I given consent. I don’t like it, but it’s how young people have sex now,” one woman shared.
Another woman shares her chilling experience:
“I went on a date six months ago and ended up drunk, back at the man’s house. He was a big guy. He put both his hands around my throat and squeezed hard. I was gasping for breath, and I passed out. When I woke up, he was asleep beside me. I got out of there fast and considered myself lucky. The next morning, he messaged me to say he’d had a great time and that the sex was ‘awesome’.”
Tracey addresses some incredibly important tips for those who don’t want to be choked:
- “If you’re having sex and the person you’re with puts their hands (or another apparatus) around your throat without permission, say: ‘No! I don’t want that!’ quickly, loudly and clearly.
- Explain that it’s not something you want or enjoy and that you aren’t interested in continuing to have sex if choking is part of it.
- Make it clear you mean business and most men will stop.
- If you can’t speak, use your body to resist by kicking and hitting him anywhere you can reach.
- This should at least cause him to pause. You then say, ‘Stop. I don’t like this.’ If he doesn’t immediately apologise, say, ‘If you continue, it’s without my consent which means it’s sexual assault’.
- If you feel unsafe, get yourself out of there as soon as possible.
- Keep your phone near you during sex and have a safety app installed (one that responds if you touch or shake it and calls a friend).
- If you live with other people who are home, consider going back to your place instead of theirs.”
She also suggests that if your partner suggests it, be honest, and upfront. Tell them it’s too dangerous and to suggest something safer such as role-play or tie-up games.
This warning is not only relevant for us but also for our children. If you do have a teen or a young adult, it may be a good idea to remind them that breath play isn’t a good choice and isn’t ‘part of the norm’ now. It might embarrass the hell out of them, but it’s our job to make them aware. Embarrassment sometimes comes with the role.
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