Breath play is about controlling breathing for erotic arousal. It requires extreme caution and knowledge of the risks involved. Before you explore breath play, you must establish clear communication, trust, and boundaries with your partner.
Although there are plenty of kinky possibilities out there, breath play (aka erotic asphyxiation) is one of the most exhilarating — and dangerous.
Breath play is a form of sexual exploration that involves intentionally restricting oxygen to get your heart racing and your senses tingling. It’s about pushing boundaries, letting go of inhibitions, and discovering new levels of pleasure and intimacy. And yes, it may involve choking, but there are other options, like breath swapping or nose pinching.
But… you must approach breath play with caution and care, only engaging with someone you trust and with proper education on safety techniques. You also need to be careful with solo play. In the United States, up to 1000 people die from autoerotic asphyxia each year.
So take a deep breath (for now), and let’s explore the different types of breath play, from mild to wild, and provide tips on safely and consensually engaging in this activity with your partner.
Breath play It used to be purely a BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism) thing, but it’s now becoming mainstream. It’s an umbrella term for activities restricting oxygen intake to increase arousal.
There are different forms of breath play, ranging from mild to extreme. Some folks enjoy breath swapping, locking lips with their partner, and breathing in each other’s air. Others prefer more intense forms, using extreme devices like gas masks and hoods to restrict breathing.
Peeps engage in breath play for various reasons. It might be the power dynamics involved, the taboo nature of the act, or trying something new alone or with a partner.
But before diving in, know there are many other less dangerous ways to level up your sex life. You could try bondage, wax play, sensory play, spanking, or role-playing. There’s an endless list of fun and exciting ways to explore different sexual fantasies that don’t put your life on the line.
Yes, breath play is dangerous. It can even be life or death, so take it seriously. Restricting oxygen and blood flow to the brain can cause severe health problems. We’re talking abnormal heartbeats, brain damage, or cardiac arrest. It could even cause your eyeballs to hemorrhage.
And let’s remember the blood vessels, nerves, and other vital bits and bobs in your neck. If your airway is constricted during breath play, it could cause permanent damage to the larynx, arteries, trachea, or other structures.
There’s also an additional risk if you or your partner has asthma or other lung or breathing condition. If this applies, you should consider other ways to get your rocks off. Breath play is likely too risky.
Safety first, kids! Breath play can be risky because you limit your oxygen intake and blood flow to certain areas. If it interests you, it’s wise to chat with a sex therapist to learn about proper techniques and safety before exploring. But it’s never 100% safe. You must also clearly understand the value of communication and the meaning of informed, ongoing, and enthusiastic consent.
When you begin experimenting, it’s best to start slow and take breaks when necessary. For example, try holding your breath during solo play to explore the sensation before involving a partner. That way, you’re in control and begin to learn your limits.
You can progress to including a partner in breath swapping or placing hands around your neck. Just ensure you trust them and establish ground rules before you begin.
A reliable safe word and gesture are essential to ensure breath play stays safe and consensual. If your partner’s airway is restricted, they can’t communicate verbally, so clear signals can help avoid confusion or discomfort. You can use a double tap on the arm to indicate the need to stop all activity and remember to check in with each other regularly to ensure mutual consent and comfort levels. Or, have the submissive hold an item, like a ball. When they drop the ball, that means stop.
Always prioritize safety, education, communication, and consent above pleasure for all parties involved. Breath play is risky, but with the right knowledge and precautions, you can enjoy the thrill without compromising your safety or satisfaction.
Prop, toy, and costume safety
If you want to introduce gas masks or compression devices, try them first. You should know how they work and how to release them before adding them to any sex play. It’s also essential to educate yourself on anatomy and understand structures that cannot handle compression.
As sexuality exists on a spectrum, so do kinks like breath play. Some peeps might be satisfied with gentle breath swapping, while others crave more risky pursuits. Here are some of the different types of breath play:
- Neck holding. Keepin’ it safe with a little hand-on-neck action. Some don’t consider this breath play as it doesn’t restrict oxygen, and there’s no pressure. But there is power play and enjoyable stimulation of the erogenous zones around the neck.
- Breath swapping. This technique is at the lower end of the risk scale. You’ll lock lips with your partner as if kissing. Then breathe through your nose, and exhale into their mouth. They then exhale through their nose, and you can swap.
- Breath-holding. Up the ante by holding your breath during sexy time, either independently or as your partner directs.
- Nose-pinching. A physical twist on breath-holding. Have your partner hold your nose for some brief, breathless moments.
- Kinging or queening. Wanna be the ruler of your partner’s airflow? Smother their face with your genitals during oral sex. It works for all genders, as you can grind vulvas on faces or pinch noses closed if there are penises involved.
- Choking. For those who like it rough, choking adds some serious intensity. It involves using hands, collars, or ropes to direct pressure on the trachea or around the neck. But be warned — it’s a risky biz that can damage the neck and trachea and dangerously limit oxygen flow. In some cases, it can kill someone. So be very careful and proceed with extreme caution.
- Gas masks and hoods. Get freaky with some latex or plastic gear to restrict breathing. Just make sure there’s some airflow and quick-release mechanisms.
- Chest compression (corseting). Squeezing the chest provides a breathless sensation without risk to the neck. But it can damage the rubs and other structures, so you must educate yourself before getting into this type of breath play.
Breath play isn’t just about getting your freak on. It’s about making sure you and your partner are on the same page and feel comfortable and safe. And it’s crucial to have informed and enthusiastic consent, so don’t let the heat of the moment cloud your judgment.
Before you start, have an open and honest convo with your partner about what you’re both into, your limits, and what to do if things get too intense. A “yes” doesn’t mean yes if the person isn’t fully aware of what they’re consenting to or if they’re feeling pressured. Consent should always be a clear and enthusiastic “hell yes!” from all parties. And all participants can withdraw consent at any moment, no matter what’s been agreed upon or discussed previously.
And remember, consent is an ongoing conversation — it doesn’t just happen once at the beginning of your playtime. So continue to communicate throughout the experience, and be aware of your partner’s reactions and comfort level. By prioritizing communication and consent, you can explore breath play as safely and enjoyably as possible.
Breath play can be an exhilarating experience if you want to turn up the temperature between the sheets. From light breath play to more extreme forms of oxygen restriction, there’s a wide range of possibilities for those interested in exploring.
But it’s risky! You need to approach this kink with caution, education, and communication to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all involved.
Think of breath play as sexy hot sauce — a dash can add flavor and heat, but too much can leave you gasping for air! So remember, a little goes a long way in adding spice to your sex life!