People who partake in bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism (BDSM) may be mentally healthier than those who don’t, says research published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.
Researchers asked 902 people who practice BDSM to fill out questionnaires on their psychological health. And compared to those having “vanilla sex,” they seemed to be less neurotic, more open and secure in their relationship, reporting higher levels of well-being.
The researchers speculate that spicing it up in the bedroom may help you tune in to sexual desires—and communicate them. In turn, that could make you more comfortable with your overall identity.
But you don’t have to jump into full-blown kinky sex to reap the benefits. Any sort of experimentation can lead to higher levels of well-being and sexual satisfaction, says Ava Cadell, Ph.D., founder of Loveology University, an online resource for sex knowledge. Start with something manageable, like spanking, suggests Cadell.
Here’s how to pull it off: “Aim lower on her butt, rather than hitting the top of the cheek,” says Cadell. Men often make the mistake of spanking too high, but this could actually cause pain—you’re closer to bone, says Cadell. You engage more nerve endings when you make contact with the fleshier area of her cheeks, she explains.