How to use sensory deprivation for sexual kicks

Sarah Berry
·8-min read
Photo credit: Julia Davila-Lampe - Getty Images
Photo credit: Julia Davila-Lampe - Getty Images

From Netdoctor

When it comes to sex, the first instinct is usually to dive in and enjoy a full sensory overload including sight, touch, sound and taste. But what happens if you limit one or more of your senses? Depriving any one of the common sensations associated with sexual pleasure can sharpen the rest, so something as simple as wearing a blindfold or switching off the lights can be remarkably tantalising. If you can't see what your lover is planning it can add a sense of excitement and power play to the proceedings.

To indulge in sensory deprivation you don’t need to create a fancy scene or have any props. But if you want to go shopping there’s a huge array of fetish products just waiting to be bent to your will. But while having less control and knowledge over what’s going to happen can increase pleasure, it can also increase risk.

Psychosexual and relationship therapist Sarah Berry offers her expert tips on how to enjoy sensory deprivation in the bedroom safely and consensually:

Sight deprivation

Whether via a specifically designed blindfold, a scarf, closing ones eyes or by simply turning the lights off, sight deprivation is the most popular way to have fun with the senses. If you trust your partner, not knowing what they’re going to do next can lead to giddy anticipation.

However, if you don’t trust them, or you did but then they do something to upset that trust, a fun game can easily turn sour. As with any sex act, consent, safe words and regular check-ins are vital. Surprising someone outside the parameters of an agreed game is akin to not getting consent, so keep it simple, particularly with new partners.

Sound play

Amongst the various orifice plugs sold in sex shops, you’ll be unlikely to find any for ears. Simply blocking the ears doesn’t sound like a sexy idea - Seeing your lover talking or groaning without being able to hear them may take away from the sauce rather than adding to it.

Instead of depriving noise, filling the air with sound can be a compelling way to help take you out of your thoughts and provide more context for the moment, whether you’re cranking up Slipknot, Justin Timberlake or Rage Against the Machine. It can also disguise groans, screams, buzzing, slapping or bed creeks from neighbours. Alternatively using headphones - particularly Bluetooth ones so cables don’t get in the way - can lead to a more intense sensory experience.

Photo credit: Navee Sangvitoon / EyeEm - Getty Images
Photo credit: Navee Sangvitoon / EyeEm - Getty Images

Double sensory restriction

Restricting both your sight and sound senses is a bold move. Those who can’t see or hear might ride off on a wave of pleasure, but they might also spend the whole session trying to guess where their partner is, so talk it through before you get started. This double sensory restriction could be achieved with blindfolds and headphones or speciality hoods sold on fetish websites.

However, sight and sound restriction is not for the claustrophobic. It’s easy for someone to feel more isolated and detached from their body and therefore reaching for safe words or signs will be harder to achieve. Be sure to check in regularly and effectively with anyone you put into that state. Asking your lover to periodically squeeze a hand or respond to questions can help.

Speech restriction

Restricting speech can be great for people who relish being submissive and an interesting challenge for those who find it hard to sit back and let things happen.

One way is to simply agree that there will be no talking from one or both of you. When I do couples counselling, an exercise that builds intimacy is called sensate focus. Without speaking, each person takes it in turns to explore their partner’s naked body. At first they miss out the erogenous zones then after a few weeks they include these. Neither one talks unless there is discomfort. By not directing the action, the person being touched is invited to turn off their critical voice and try to be in the moment, tuning in to their partner's hands. Meanwhile the toucher is encouraged to focus on how their partner’s skin feels, rather than worrying about the other’s pleasure.

Silencing a partner can also be a fun way to experience power exchange, BDSM style. It’s called a power exchange because both people are in control of the action. There are many different kinds of purpose built gags sold on fetish sites for just this purpose. Whenever mouths are restricted, check they can breathe — this is not great for anyone with a blocked nose! Of course if mouths are out of action then safe words are redundant. A signal can be useful but hands have to be viewable in order to show this, so don’t put arms in bondage and make sure they're not leaning on their hands!

Movement restriction

There are a million different ways to restrict someone’s movement. You could tie limbs to bedposts with a dressing gown belt or handcuffs, try hogtie style using shibari rope, mummify them with bondage tape, or if you’re feeling flash, use a vacbed (like being inside a clingy, rubberised air bed).

Always check that any ties aren’t cutting off circulation and that no one is feeling dizzy. Having scissors on hand is a good idea — medical scissors are best as they can lessen the chance of chopping off digits or cutting skin.

⚠️ Never leave a bondaged person unsupervised and if they’re standing with arms and legs tied together remember they are at a real risk of toppling over, which is made worse as they can’t break their fall by reaching out.

Time and space deprivation

Disorientation can be playful, but it can also be scary. Some may blindfold and spin their conquest - like at the beginning of blind man’s buff. I’ve heard of elaborate kink scenes where submissives are driven around blindfolded, until they get to an unknown destination where sexy things will happen to them. As with all the above have regular check-ins with your captive.

Erotic asphyxiation

If you're interested in breath play please be aware that strangulation or asphyxiation of any kind is never safe and comes with significant risk. Shutting off airways may enhance sensation, but at any point you could be seconds from death as asphyxiation can lead to asphyxia.

Strangulation has increased with the use of porn (but remember porn follows trends, it doesn’t make them). Though autoerotic asphyxiation came to medical notice in the 17th century when it was noted that victims of public hangings sometimes developed an erection which remained after death. So just because it feels good and the blood is pumping, does not mean it cannot be fatal.

What makes this risky endeavour even more dangerous is that partial strangulation can lead to a loss of control beyond the loss of control we get upon orgasming. So if the hold on your neck is too hard, you may be powerless to stop it. And it could all be over in seconds. And if it is, note that courts are taking an increasingly dimmer view (and it always was pretty dim) over the use of death by misadventure, or accident as a defence when sex goes wrong.

Photo credit: Prosun Paul - Getty Images
Photo credit: Prosun Paul - Getty Images

Stimulating ideas

Once you have safely sensorily deprived your compadre, here’s what you can do to heighten their other senses and tease them into a frenzy:

❤️ Hot and cold

Alternating temperatures can be a lot of fun. For cold, run ice cubes over their body or drink ice cold water before kissing and sucking them. Then to create some heat, use a dryer over their body or sip a hot drink before oral sex. With both these check on yourself first - you don’t want to burn or cause chilblains!

❤️ Wax play

Madonna fans may remember seeing the Queen of pop drip hot wax all over William Defoe in Body of Evidence. While this can be a sexy endeavour, I strongly advise investing in purpose built wax which turns to a lovely oil when it hits the skin. Try these BDSM Wax Play candles. And if you do anything with fire, make sure you have the right sort of extinguisher, a fire blanket or a bucket of water close to hand. Plus keep flammable materials such as hair sprayed locks well out of the way.

❤️ Aroma

When other senses are dulled, our sense of smell can be heightened. You might invite your partner to dose up on your pheromones by having them smell your chest or arm pits. Other scents that can help boost arousal include rose, citrus, mint or vanilla.

❤️ Music

Music can be a real character in your sex life. Whether you’re using it to drown out all other sounds or in the background. It can be soothing, discordant, playful or serious. Sounds can also be deliciously unsettling including the dreaded nails down a blackboard or breaking glass. Sound can also provide a sense of calm — like the sleep apps with raindrops or jungle noise.

❤️ Touch

There’s no end to the different textured sensations you could inflict on your partner. Whether you plump for purpose built items like vibrators, pin wheels and floggers or “pervert” items like toothbrushes, silk scarves or feathers. You could also tickle, spank, nibble, kiss and lick your way round their body. Nipple clamps or pegs can lead to a very intense reaction so it’s best that their initial outing isn’t a surprise.

❤️ Taste

Food and sex have long been linked together. You could hand feed tit bits or use your body as a platter. Are you going to give you playmates lovely sweet food - like chocolate-dipped strawberries? Or keep them guessing with odd combinations of baked beans and custard? Check for food allergies and choking. Playing with the senses can be sensational — as you’re not senseless!

Last updated: 05-03-2021

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