Health Considerations for Bondage

IMG_5606

It’s important to consider HOW you ask about health issues, because that will play a big part in what information you will be given. If you ask someone: “Do you have any health problems?” in many cases, without really thinking, they’ll shrug and say “nope!”  A much better question to ask is: “What medical or health issues do you have?” or “Tell me about your health.” Another good way to get information is to ask about what medications they take- if you don’t know what the medication is for or what it’s side effects could be, those are excellent follow-up questions! All of these questions are are more open-ended and don’t allow for a simple “nope it’s all good” – which is almost never an accurate answer, by the way.

Asking the bottom about the current state of their body is a good place to start. When did they last eat/drink? Are they having any pain or discomfort at this moment? Do they need to use the bathroom? Are they well rested? What is their state of mind – calm, stressed, etc?

Whenever I am doing a health negotiation for bondage, I specifically ask about the “big three” – diabetes, asthma, and blood thinners. If someone has diabetes or asthma, I start by asking them what they know about how their diabetes/asthma affects their play (and their lives in general). They are the experts on their own bodies and can likely give you some excellent information.

If the bottom has asthma, the most important questions to follow up with are: do they have an albuterol (rescue) inhaler? Where is it? When did they last have to use it? What triggers their asthma? Bondage can trigger asthma attacks, so it’s critical that their inhaler is within reach, and that the top knows where it is. Face down positions like hog ties put more pressure on the chest and can be more difficult for people with respiratory issues, so I’d likely choose a different bondage position (like face up) for someone with asthma.

If the bottom has diabetes, then follow up questions include: when did you last eat? When did you last check your blood sugar? Have you been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage)? One big concern is that they could experience a drop in their blood sugar during play, so I’d make sure there is a handy sugar source (like juice) for them to have if they need it. Symptoms of low blood sugar include cold, clammy skin, confusion, trembling, and more (google “symptoms of hypoglycemia” for more info than you could possibly want). If their diabetes is poorly controlled, they likely have some degree of peripheral neuropathy of their lower extremities. This increases their risk for nerve damage and would promp me to be more careful with tying their ankles (or avoid it entirely)- more wrapping turns, taking care to spread the load (for instance by adding an extra thigh rope), etc.

If the bottom is on blood thinners, there are many follow-up questions needed – so many that it gets it’s own article!

Allergies are crucial to discuss. Of course you probably don’t give a shit about your bottom’s penicillin allergy, but a latex allergy could certainly be relevant. If the bottom has a history of grass allergies, there’s a chance they could have a reaction to natural fiber (hemp) rope- you may consider having them wear a small amount of your rope as a bracelet around their wrist for a day or so to check for any reaction. If the bottom has a history of severe allergic reactions, do they have an epi pen? Where, and do you know how to use it if needed?_MG_4089

Asking the bottom about their level of activity can give you a lot of information about their health in general, and cardiovascular (heart) health specifically. If your bottom does a 2 hour hike once a week they’ll probably survive some physically strenuous bondage. If they have shortness of breath after climbing a flight of stairs – well, you’ll better take it slowly.

Bloodborne disease status is always good to know (hepatitis and HIV are the big ones). As the top, I always disclose my last testing date and results before asking my partner for their own status. Of course this is much more relevant for some scenes (those involving sexual contact or playing to blood) than for others (a scene involving giving a bondage ride to a fully clothed individual would be practically zero risk).

It’s crucial to ask your bottom about their joints, including history of injuries and degree of flexibility. Most types of bondage involve some sort of strain on the bottom’s joints- kneeling can be hard on the knees, hair pulling can be a problem for someone with chronic neck issues, etc. Joint problems are quite common!

Since nerve damage is cumulative, asking about any history of nerve damage is important. If the bottom has a previous bondage-related nerve injury, that is especially relevant (and I would want lots of details on how/when it occurred), but something like carpal tunnel syndrome or sciatica is also nerve damage and should prompt, at the least, more cautious bondage of the affected area.

Suspension bondage requires even more attention to health considerations – details on that can be found in this follow-up article.

These are just some highlights, and this article is not in any way an exhaustive discussion of this topic. Hopefully this has at least given you some ideas of the truly key information! And one more thing: taking a first aid and/or CRP class is a good idea if you want to be responsible and confident in your play.