BDSM consent and negotiation guidelines

by La quarta corda

11 – Informing about any physical problems


A key part of negotiation is to inform and inquire about any physical and psychological problems.

If we are aware of any physical conditions that might be relevant to the session, we should be the first to point them out; even if the partner doesn’t tell anything about theirs, it is always advisable to make sure of the other person’s health status.

Sometimes the implications of some pathologies on the activities are rather evident (e.g. if I have a herniated disc I will probably have problems bending my back in some positions, for example when bound) but there may be problems that we don’t think about because we don’t consider them relevant for what we are going to do, although they may significantly impact the session (e.g. if I have a cataract I may not think about the risk of increased eye pressure during an upside-down suspension).

Therefore, when negotiating, we always ought to inform the partner about any temporary (e.g. flu) or chronic (e.g. asthma) pathology and whether we are taking any medication that may influence the game (e.g. those taking anticoagulants may be particularly prone to bleeding or bruising).

Let’s also point out whether we might need some medication during the session (e.g. an inhaler for an asthmatic person) and explain to our partner where to find it.

This is a non-exhaustive list of diseases or physical conditions that could be significant for some BDSM practices:

  • respiratory disorders (e.g. asthma),
  • low or high blood pressure,
  • articular conditions (e.g. back problems, surgery, etc.),
  • bone pathologies (e.g. osteoporosis, fractures, etc.),
  • heart or circulatory diseases (e.g. deep vein thrombosis, varicose veins, etc.),
  • eye diseases (e.g. glaucoma),
  • pregnancy,
  • diabetes,
  • presence of breast implants or implants in other body areas,
  • bariatric surgery,
  • epilepsy,
  • neuropathies and paresthesias,
  • paralysis,
  • heavy under- or overweight.

(Please note: given the multitude of possible practices and pathologies, if we have any specific physical condition, it is advisable to consult a doctor before undertaking certain activities.)

Once we have discussed any physical problems, let’s take some time before we start playing to think about how to structure and adapt the session according to the needs of the partner, because during the session proper we may find that we are not able anymore to implement the appropriate measures.

Obviously, omitting to inform the partner about one of our pathologies in order to accomplish a certain experience or session is irresponsible behaviour.

Let me close this part by also talking about piercings and clothes that could affect the session.

We have to inform the partner of all the piercings we have, especially the ones not visible at first sight, so that we can take the appropriate precautions. For example, a navel piercing could get caught when playing with a whip, or a genital one could become bothersome if we make a rope panties bondage.

Finally, keep in mind that clothing can also affect the game. For example, a corset can be inconvenient in certain positions and high heels can compromise balance. So let’s try to be as proactive as possible.

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10 – Safeword

12 – Informing about psychophysical problems

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