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Sensation Play When You Lack Sensation: BDSM and physical disability


Due to a birth defect I can’t feel about half my body, but that does not mean I don’t participate in or enjoy sensation play. In fact, I adore sensation play and I love scenes and sex that include it. Sensation play can involve light sensations like feathers, ice cubes, and silk blindfolds or be as intense as flogging or electricity play. A definition from Kinkly can be found here.

My favorite kinks that fall into the category of sensation play on the more pain intense side of the spectrum include spanking, electricity play and light flogging. But I’ve learned a lot about my body from lighter forms of play as well. Even though I can’t feel a lot of my body, when I play with certain toys like vibrators or electric wands on areas I can feel, I have sensations in places I cannot feel. I have also discovered ultrasensitive places, like the crook of my elbow, I would have never even thought of as being arousing if not for sensation play. Therefore, I try to participate in as much of it as possible, so I can continue to learn new things about my body and what turns me on and feels good.

But my lack of sensation can interfere with safe play. The truth is, I cannot feel a lot of the impact on certain parts of my body and that does effect the ways in which I play.

You might think my best course of action would be to simply avoid places I can’t feel with things like ice cubes, floggers, or electric wands. This is only partially true. I believe I would deny myself a lot of experiences if I only used sensation on places I could feel. Of course there are times when I do limit myself to those circumstances, but not always. I have found that when handled safely, I have no problems receiving impact or sensation play in areas where my sensation is lacking. The following are things I keep in mind to stay safe and enjoy sensation play to the fullest.

1.       Learn your kink and how to play safely

This is good advice for ANYONE participating in BDSM play. Rope/suspension/bondage kinks are going to have different safety precautions from flogging, or electricity, or piercing. Learn about your tastes and the risks unique to them. The Ultimate Guide to Kink offers an overview of kinks as well as a solid explanation of safe, sane, consensual play. For spanking, I recommend The Mistress Manual. The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability includes an entire chapter dedicated to BDSM and has many helpful tips. Kinkly.com is a great site: From subspace to negotiation, this site has many great resources to get you started. Once you are aware of the risks you can evaluate adapting them to your own needs, whether they be lack of sensation, problems with circulation, pain, fatigue, or any other number of things.  

2.       Have a trusting, open relationship with your top

When I participate in a scene with a new partner I clearly define where I can feel and negotiate only receiving impact on those areas. I do this until I get comfortable enough with a new play partner and s/he can learn my body. However, I tend to err on the side of caution and unless it is a very intimate play party, I usually stick to receiving sensation play not only on places I can feel, but places I can also see. (Which means my breasts are fair play, a win/win for everyone involved.) This may seem like it would limit the kind of play I participate in, but on the contrary my tops have been more than graceful in being creative and taking the boundaries as an enticing challenge.

With my husband, who is much more in tune with my body, I do receive impact on places I cannot feel. I know he is very attentive and has proven that he knows when to take it easy even when I’m begging him to go longer or harder. Which is why I believe that safety in play can depend more on who you play with than how you play. He can also tell me in the following days whether a mark on my body needs attention. He also respects my limits and stops immediately if I indicate we need to stop.

Either way, it is important to be able to clearly communicate the areas you can't feel and why it is important they be avoided in certain circumstances whether it be for physical or psychological safety.

3.       Combine impact play with lighter sensations

Sometimes I request that a paddle or flogger only be used on areas I can feel while massage and lighter touch, like dragging the tips of the flogger across my skin, be used on the areas I can’t feel. That way I’m still receiving input and keeping the arousal up, but not receiving any pain in the areas I can’t feel.

4.       Use porn to enhance your scene

This may sound strange, but I can orgasm by watching a porn scene that includes spanking or flogging while my partner gives me a sensual massage, stimulating erogenous zones. This can also work to make a mutual masturbation session a bit more kinky. If you don’t want to watch the porn, I have pulled up a scene on my phone and plugged my headphones in, so I can hear the rhythm of the flogger/paddle but not receive impact. This way you can have the illusion of participating in say, a spanking scene, but not have any physical impacts on your body. It might sound awkward, but if you are up for experimenting with your partner, I have found it can work well.

5.       Details and dirty talk

Using other sexy details can rev up a scene so you don’t need to use such intense play to achieve satisfaction. Light candles, scented ones if you like them, or use flavored lubes and warming massage oils. Dirty talk or more abstract forms of control like verbal commands can foster the sense of Domination/submission making the scene less reliant on physical control or impact.

6.       Aftercare

Once again, aftercare is important for anyone participating in a kink scene, but for me with my sensation issues, the aftercare lasts for several days. I keep an eye on any bruising or marks that spring up the next morning. I use a mirror to check myself in places I can’t see. I drink a lot of water and watch for signs that something might be wrong. I personally experience nerve pain which feels like a fever and this can sometimes mean I have a wound that needs attention (for example, if my brace rubs my foot where I can’t feel, I often get the fever feeling before I discover the blister). So I listen to my body and take my temperature often. I've never had anything get out of hand to require medical attention, but I'd rather be safe than sorry when it comes to monitoring after a hard scene.  

Overall, I have found sensation play has improved my relationship with my body immensely, even if I can only feel certain places. If you have any other tips, tricks, ideas or precautions let us know in the comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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