Yesterday I had to counsel a young man who – with much embarrassment and pain – confessed he had damaged his own genitals by overenthusiastically using an electric BDSM toy. I am not a physician, so I could only direct him to a specialist and hope his lesions were not permanent… but I took the opportunity to educate him about the correct usage of that kind of devices.
In fact, the last few months apparently brang a new fad for electroplay, yet the success of the electrical stimulation devices isn’t always accompanied by the information required by such toys. The sort of information which, as evidenced by the first paragraph of this very post, can make the difference between an interesting sensory exploration experience and a ER-bound rush. I had already written something about this topic a dozen years ago or so, so I dusted off that article, updated it and translated it for your convenience. If you wish to learn more about electroplay, a much more detailed look to this practice can be found in my book BDSM – A guide for explorers of extreme eroticism.
Let’s start with a much needed disclaimer. All the information in this article are strictly orientational: they come from scientific research and personal experience so theyshould be reliable, but as you will read this field involves a very high variability, so they cannot be considered like a complete guide. As a matter of fact, I am expressly inviting you to avoid all sorts of electricity-based erotic play. In other words: if you mess up, don’t come looking for me. I warned you. And now we can proceed.
The responsible torturer’s manual
The essence of electroplay is that the flow of electricity through someone’s body causes a series of physiological reactions. To create such a flow you need two electrodes, and you need to put some flesh between them, as they are useless if they touch directly. From the lighter to the strongest, the reactions are:
- Surface electrostatic reaction (even before the skin is touched “hairs prick up” and you feel a very light stimulation)
- Surface neurological reaction (nerve endings get stimulated, creating a feeling of “vibration” or “tingle”)
- Involuntary muscular reaction (this is what happens with fitness electrostimulators: if the current flows through a muscle, it contracts no matter what. If this happens with the right rhythm and at the right place, things get interesting)
- Tissue cooking (cells get fried, and you go from a microscopic surface burn to the electric chair special, with a charred and smoking corpse)
All of this teaches us that you have to exercise caution if you don’t want to kill anybody.
Corollary – If you get the wrong muscle to contract too much, you risk to get a body part flailing about and getting hurt, possibly in a serious way (it could hit you too). If you think that tying up the subject would fix it, the muscle will contract anyway causing sprainings, rips and/or bone fractures.
Corollary 2 – If what contracts is the heart or the diaphragm, make sure you have a resuscitation team close by.
Rather obviously, the parts that “feel the current” more strongly are just those directly touched by the electrodes. The sensations anywhere between the two terminals are much milder, even if this may be the area that more intensely contracts. Also, as the distance between the electrodes grows, the lesser the intensity of the effect is.
Another paramount concept: it is not voltage that hurts, but amperage. And since you’ve probably lost me already at this, just trust me and follow one simple rule: only use specifically-designed devices. DO NOT build your own mad scientist’s tools, DO NOT modify existing devices, DO NOT attempt any experiment whatsoever. That shouldn’t be hard. The remaining two categories of toys are erotic devices manufactured by the specialized companies you can find here, and fitness stimulators which must be used with a little more caution. If you are visiting a high-end sex shop and you are unsure of what to choose, look at the price tag: the safest and more enjoyable items are the expensive ones. And if they come from the United States, they had to pass the strict Federal tests so they are very safe – provided you use them sensibly. Avoid Rimba brand generators, because they are known for the pointless violence and danger of their pulses.
Please remember that with electricity you can’t take anything for granted. Let me rephrase that: if you ever used a sex toy, you know that its effects are – more or less – consistent. Not so if you play with electricity. This depends on the several uncontrollable factors involved in electric activities. Among them are skin moisture (changing minute by minute), the actual contact area (a shiver is enough to peel off half of an electro-pad), the electrodes position (move them just a millimiter, and what didn’t feel like anything suddenly can become Armageddon), and so on. In other words: enjoy your play, but stay focused and alert, always reading your partner and ready to stop immediately should any problem arise. If you are not up to it, remember there are hundreds of other easier practices to enjoy.
A surprising side of electroplay is that it feels aggravating. If you apply it on the same spot for a while, the first shock will be immense, but the body quickly adapts to the subsequent impulses, making them just annoying. On the other hand, just a few minutes of overall stimulation (meaning, without counting the pauses between the pulses) are enough to start cellular electrolysis, causing possibly severe damages without even noticing. So, go for fixed-place electrodes and few well separated and/or very varied pulses, or play with continuously moving electrodes. This way it will be more enjoyable for both you and your partner.
I have just one more worrywart’s suggestion for you. Skin is not the same all over the body. Applying electrodes to a knee has a ticklish effect; using them on the inner vaginal mucose or through an urethral sound will produce Tarzan-like yells instead, because you are stimulating a much softer, thinner and unprotected tissue.
Congratulations: you now know the basics of erotic electrostimulation. You can go out and play. Just be safe, and always remember granpa Ayzad’s advices:
- Do what you wish, but only from the waist down, to be sure not to involve the heart or the lungs
- Only use proper toys
- Closely monitor the reactions
- Don’t insist on one spot only
Bonus for those patient enough to have read this far – If you really want to emulate what you saw at the movies and apply electricity to the nipples, only use the purposely designed bipolar clamp electrodes. Yet I’d advise you to reconsider.
Current intensity and its effects
This is the only existing table about this topic, and it refers to a continuously applied 60Hz AC current. All common sex toys use higher (and safer) frequencies and more importantly they only generate adjustable pulses.
|<1ma (milliampère)||No effect unless applied directly to the internal organs|
|1ma||Barely noticeable tingle|
|5ma||Painless shock. Electrical appliances are designed to turn off in case of stronger discharges|
|18ma||A sustained current causes the contraction of the diaphragm and suffocation|
|6-39ma||Involuntary muscle contraction and painful shock. This is when you get electrocuted, usually dying soon thereafter. The average limit for males is 15.5ma and 10.5ma for females|
|50-150ma||Intense pain, muscle contraction and respiratory arrest. In most adults ventricular fibrillation occurs at 100ma. Risk of sudden death. Involuntary contractions can throw the body far from the source of electricity|
|1a-4,5a (ampère)||Ventricular fibrillation, muscle contraction and neurological damages. Medicine manuals state that death is “highly probable”, and it is not by coincidence that this is the level used in electric chairs|
|10a||High probability of death, immediate cardiac arrest and severe burns. Lightnings strike with this power|