How Many People Have Experimented With BDSM Before?

How Many People Have Experimented With BDSM Before?

BDSM has long been deemed a paraphilia—meaning an unusual sexual interest—by psychologists and psychiatrists. The classification of BDSM as a paraphilia implies that it’s likely to be a pretty rare sexual practice in the overall population. But is that really the case? Just how many people have ever had a BDSM experience before?

This question has been difficult to answer with any degree of certainty because, historically, nationally representative sex surveys haven’t routinely inquired about BDSM. As a result, we’ve had to base most of our knowledge on the results of convenience samples, which aren’t representative of the population and therefore don’t tell us as much about actual prevalence rates. However, a recent national US sex survey offers useful insight.

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How Many Americans Have Tried BDSM? (Infographic)

How Many Americans Have Tried BDSM? (Infographic)

The immense popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey has prompted a lot of curiosity about BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism). Among other things, people have begun to wonder just how many of us have explored BDSM practices before. Unfortunately, however, this isn't a sexual activity that researchers have routinely inquired about on national sex surveys--at least not until now. A study published last month in the journal PLOS ONE offers some insight. Check out the infographic below for a look at Americans' interest in and experiences with various BDSM acts and some of the key takeaways from this survey.

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4 Theories on the Origin of Sexual Masochism

4 Theories on the Origin of Sexual Masochism

Masochists are people who find certain types of pain--such as biting, spanking, and flogging--to be sexually arousing. It has long been thought that finding pain to be a turn-on is an atypical desire. In fact, psychologists formally classified masochism as a paraphilia (i.e., an unusual sexual interest) long ago, lumping it in the same category as fetishism, exhibitionism, and voyeurism. However, recent research suggests that masochism isn't so rare after all. As some evidence of this, a recent survey of over 1,500 Canadian adults found that more than one-third of women and more than one-quarter of men reported having fantasized about being spanked or whipped before (learn more about this study here).

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