Choking. Normally you would cry out, is anyone a doctor? or practice the Heimlich maneuver. But the sexual practice of choking during sex is becoming more popular. Originating in the world of BDSM, choking combines ideas of power, dominance and physical arousal.

Sometimes known as ‘breath play,’ choking is the deliberate restriction of oxygen to a partner during sex. Usually this consists of physically placing pressure on the throat of the submissive partner. So you might be wondering why someone would want to be choked? Well let me explain it simply:

As humans we have a fight or flight mechanism. The concept of breath play taps into this.

If you’re aggressive towards me, I’m either going to ‘fight’ you or I’m going to take ‘flight.’ If I take ‘flight’ that would literally mean running away from the situation but on a sexual level, this might mean that I become submissive.

So when I’m already turned on by being dominated, is it going to be a thrill to have you choke me? Possibly. Let’s explore this…

Choking – how does it work?

During rougher sex, the aggressive partner is usually physically dominating the submissive. In the majority of cases, the dominant party is male while the female is submissive. So far, so good. Now while choking can be a violent act and some might suggest that it links to necrophilia tendencies, it is becoming more common in the bedroom.

If someone grabs you by the throat, they have literal control over you. When having sex, the balance of power may be shared equally or might favour one individual over the other. This can vary throughout. But if someone is dominating their partner by literally controlling their breathing. Well, it’s one serious way to fuck.

So what happens when you apply this to sex?

You take my breath away…

When pressure is applied on the throat, it becomes harder to breathe. During hot sex, people often get breathless. Panting particularly when orgasm is closer. In the extreme cases, this might create a dizzying effect. The struggle for breath kicks off adrenaline and taps into the fight/flight dilemma.

If you’re turned on, your breathing usually becomes more shallow and rapid. This is part of arousal, along with eyes dilating wider and cheeks flushing.

Although choking involuntarily can cause panic, when done in a safe, consensual and erotic manner, it can be enjoyable. They often say you won’t know unless you give it a go and that’s true but breath play isn’t something you can just do on a whim.

In many porn scenes, you can see that the woman can still breathe relatively easily. The ‘thrill’ of choking is in the domination. In others, the adrenaline rush may come from actually gasping for air over a short period. Of course, the idea is not to actually throttle somebody so that they lose consciousness – that’s not a good move!

Taking someone’s breath away is fine, but literally choking – bad move bro.

Notes from my diary

The first time my partner grabbed me by the throat, I panicked a bit. He was dominating me and it was early in our relationship. He saw that something was wrong and stopped because he cared about my consent and comfort. I felt safe and respected because he behaved as a gentleman. He cuddled me while we talked things through and he apologised for startling me. We laugh about it now and while I’m not trivialising it, I’m telling you this to give you an honest account.

We have bloopers in life. At work, with friends and definitely in the bedroom! That’s okay but we can use these ‘awkward moments’ to grow and develop things to be better next time.

New activities need conversation. Experimenting is great and healthy but we need to make sure our partner is involved in the decisions. This is essential to a mutually respectful and caring relationship.

Now on numerous occasions since then, my darling chap has choked me and I’ve enjoyed it. Why? Because I knew what I was getting into. I don’t give this example to scare anyone but to make a simple point.

Sex needs consent

The best way to get consent is to talk and discuss sex. Capiche?

Whenever I’ve experimented with breath play, it has been in a safe environment. It’s not something I’d do with just anybody because it does require trust. This is a key part of sex.

I’d often ask my partner to choke me when we were enjoying a particularly frisky session. I’ve tried it with my head over the side of the bed during missionary. This creates a major rush of blood to the head which is rather wild but on the edge of orgasm, it can be amazing.

Truthfully, it can be whenever it suits the mood but you have to know what you’re doing before you get into it.

Trying out choking

If choking is something you decide to explore, discuss it. Establish a ‘safe word’ that your partner can use if they want to quit.

Making sure your partner can breathe and is only having light pressure on her throat is critical. Always start off gently and aim to maintain eye contact throughout. Whenever I’ve engaged in choking, it has been for brief periods only. By that we’re talking no more than a minute or two at most. The compression has to be comfortable, squeezing tight is not safe.

Initially just a hand on her throat will be enough to thrill without doing any harm. If she wants you to apply pressure, you need to establish a safe level you can play within.

An alternative might be for your partner to try wearing a corset and you gradually tightening the cords. I’ve found this can create a very similar effect without any risk to someone’s neck. There are a lot of ways to explore breath play, finding out what works for you and maintaining strong consensual discussion is key to many fun times ahead.