5 Essential Breath Play Safety Tips

Breath play, also known as erotic asphyxiation, is a sexual practice that involves intentionally restricting or controlling oxygen flow to experience heightened sensation, arousal, and a new physical and psychological level to a sexual experience.

The rush of adrenaline and endorphins that breath play produces can be powerful. But people are also drawn to it because of its taboo nature, the danger, the intimacy, and relation to BDSM power dynamics.

Examples of breath play include nose pinching, breath holding, breathing in each other’s air, and kinging and queening. Extreme (and dangerous) ways to explore breath play can involve gas masks, gags, chest compression, extended choking, and smothering.

Close up woman touching her lip

Erotic Asphyxiation: The Risks

How to safely choke during sex? Breath play is never completely safe, and medical professionals advise against it. However, it is still regularly practised in the BDSM community, so discussing the risks and how to do it safely is preferable to people going unprepared.

If you explore it or wonder how to safely choke during sex, it should be planned, researched, communicated, and exercised with extreme knowledge and caution.

Because breath play involves stopping oxygen and airflow to the brain, there are thousands of permanent injuries and fatalities related to erotic and autoerotic asphyxiation each year.

How to safely choke during sex? Even when you know what you are doing, something can go wrong in the heat of the moment, like cardiac arrest, lack of oxygen, damage to the larynx or other neck structures, and more.

If you want to experience safe breath play, we advise sticking to only its softest, most minimal forms.

Here are 5 beginner’s safe breath play tips. Bear in mind these are only the basics and it’s essential to do a lot more research and practice before trying anything out.

Smiling happy couple cuddling at home

Safe Breath Play: The Basics

1. Stick to only the softest, safest forms of breathplay

The hard stuff isn't worth the risk!

Safer forms of erotic asphyxiation include holding your breath for short periods of time and breathing in each other’s air in intervals.

These activities allow you to experience a pleasurable sense of breathlessness without the extreme risks associated with having anything around your neck or face.

2. Avoid breath play if you have any lung or breathing difficulties

Or a heart condition or any damage or pain to the neck. You never know what could push your health over the edge and the potential lasting damage isn’t worth a quick moment of excitement.

Woman in BDSM corset and ball gag

3. Don’t try it if you’re not 100% sober

Or if you haven’t slept, eaten, or drank enough water. The same advice goes for any BDSM or ‘non-vanilla’ activity. It’s impossible to fully consent without a clear and sober mind, which increases the risk of health damage.

4. Discuss everything before trying anything

This means discussing what you both want separately, deciding what you want to try together, and setting boundaries, safewords and nonverbal signals.

Communicate throughout the session too. If anyone feels any emotional or physical discomfort, stop immediately.

5. Learn the anatomy of the neck

How to safely choke during sex? If you decide to try any kind of choking, get familiar with the anatomy of the neck, head, and chest. Read about proper hand placement, where to apply force, and crucially, where not to.

If you or your partner experience trouble breathing, chest pains or any unusual symptoms, call the emergency services immediately.

Thoughtful woman laying back in bed

Holding your breath during sexual play can add a new dimension to sex.

But when it comes to safely exploring breath play, approach it with extreme caution and only after extensive research, practice and planning.