AledaWrite a message
- How old am I:
Pleasure and Drugs.
When and why is pain pleasurable?
Many people think of pain and sex as deeply incompatible. After all, sex is all about pleasure, and pain has nothing to do with that, right? Well, for some individuals, pain and pleasure can sometimes overlap in a sexual context, but how come?
Continue reading this Spotlight feature to find out. The relationship between pain and sexual pleasure has lit up the imaginations of many writers and artists, with its undertones of forbidden, mischievous enjoyment. Recently, the series Fifty Shades of Grey by E. James has sold millions of copies worldwide, fuelling the erotic fantasies of its readers. Still, practices that involve an overlap of pain and pleasure are often shrouded in mystery and mythologized, and people who admit to engaging in rough play in the bedroom often face stigma and unwanted attention.
So what happens when an individual finds pleasure in pain during foreplay or sexual intercourse? Why is pain pleasurable for them, and are there any risks when it comes to engaging in rough play?
In this Spotlight feature, we explain why physical pain can sometimes be a source of pleasure, looking at both physiological and psychological explanations. Also, we look at possible side effects of rough play and how to cope with them and investigate when the overlap of pain and pleasure is not healthful. First of all, a word of warning: Unless a person is specifically interested in experiencing painful sensations as part of their sexual gratification, sex should not be painful for the people engaging in it. People may experience pain during intercourse for various health-related reasons, including conditions such as vaginismusinjuries or infections of the vulva or vaginaand injuries or infections of the penis or testicles.
If you experience unwanted pain or any other discomfort in your genitals during sex, it is best to speak to a healthcare professional about it.
But how can pain ever be pleasurable? According to evolutionary theory, for humans and other mammals, pain functions largely as a warning systemdenoting the danger of a physical threat. For instance, getting burned or scalded hurts, and this discourages us from stepping into a fire and getting burned to a crisp or drinking boiling water and damaging our bodies irreversibly. Yet, physiologically speaking, pain and pleasure have more in common than one might think. Research has shown that sensations of pain and pleasure activate the same neural mechanisms in the brain.
Pleasure and pain are both tied to the interacting dopamine and opioid systems in the brain, which regulate neurotransmitters that are involved in reward- or motivation-driven behaviors, which include eating, drinking, and sex.
There is also a complex psychological side to finding pleasure in sensations of pain. Experiencing pain from a knife cut in the kitchen or pain related to surgery, for instance, is bound to be unpleasant in most, if not all, cases.
However, when a person is experiencing physical pain in a context in which they are also experiencing positive emotions, their sense of pain actually decreases. So when having sex with a trusted partner, the positive emotions associated with the act could blunt sensations of pain resulting from rough play.
At the same time, voluntarily experienced pain during sex or erotic play can, surprisingly, have positive psychological effects, and the main one is interpersonal bonding. Two studies — with collectively published in Archives of Sexual Behavior in — found that participants who engaged in consensual sadomasochistic acts as part of erotic play experienced a heightened sense of bonding with their partners and an increase in emotional trust. In their study paper, the researchers concluded that:. Another reason for engaging in rough play during sex is that of escapism.
Everyday sadists take pleasure in others’ pain
In fact, a study from found that many people who practiced BDSM reported that their erotic practices helped them de-stress and escape their daily routine and worries. People can also experience negative psychological effects after engaging in rough play — no matter how experienced they are and how much care they take in setting healthful boundaries for an erotic scene. Researchers Richard Sprott, Ph. In order to prevent or cope with feeling down after an intense high during erotic play, it is important for a person and their partner or partners to carefully plan aftercare, both at the physical and psychological level, discussing individual needs and worries in detail.
Whatever a person decides to engage in to spice up their sex life, the key is always consent.
All the people participating in a sexual encounter must offer explicit and enthusiastic consent for all parts of that encounter, and they must be able to stop participating if they are no longer interested and willing. Research suggests that fantasies about unusual or rough sexual play are very commonand some people decide to take the fantasy out of the realm of imagination and make it a reality. Just make sure that you stay safe and you only engage in what you enjoy and feel comfortable doing.
Biphobia monosexism refers to the stigma, prejudice, and discrimination toward those who are bisexual.
Learn about how it can affect a person's…. When and why is pain pleasurable?
Written by Maria Cohut, Ph. Share on Pinterest Some people find pain pleasurable during sexual acts, but why? Physical pain as a source of pleasure. Share on Pinterest Pain and pleasure activate the same neural mechanisms in the brain.
Possible psychological benefits. Share on Pinterest Some people find that rough play allows them to de-stress and distance themselves from daily worries. Potential side effects of play.
Share on Pinterest People can experience psychological side effects following rough play, so it is important to discuss needs and boundaries in advance. Medical myths: All about allergies. MSG: What the science says about its safety. Not again! Double diagnosis and learning to love my condition. Related Coverage. What is biphobia?