Everything You Need to Know About Blood Play

Blood kink is having a bit of a moment. Whether you're into it or not, we know you're at least curious.

March 18, 2022 6:00 am
Abstract image shows splashes of red hues surrounding intertwined legs
Blood kink is real, and as long as it's practiced safely and consensually, there's nothing wrong with it.
Jonathan Knowles

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that blood wasn’t on your Sexual Fluid Bingo card, but it should have been. In case you haven’t noticed, blood is pretty hot these days. Take Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox. After they got engaged, those two weirdos (allegedly) drank each other’s blood. And while whatever blood-based proclivities those lovebirds may enjoy beyond a bloody post-engagement toast remain unclear, some people are into blood during sex. 

If you happen to be among the blood-curious, the internet is obviously rife with blood-fetish porn. But good, quality facts on the psychology and methodology of using blood as a sex tool are rather sparse — despite evidence to suggest that more than a handful of kinky Americans are interested in exploring it.

For his book on sexual fantasies, Tell Me What You Want, Dr. Justin Lehmiller surveyed 4,175 Americans about their various kinks. He found that 17 percent of women and 9.5 percent of men said they’d had fantasies involving blood. (Notice that women were more likely to have blood-related fantasies. This isn’t exactly shocking when you think about it; remember how horny everyone was for the vampires in Twilight?) If you’re one of them, you’ve come to the right place.

Here is what you should know about getting down with blood during sex, ideally before breaking any skin. 

What the hell even is blood play?

Blood play refers to using blood during sex. It is “a sexual interest where the sight, scent, feel and/or taste of blood is sexually arousing,” says Sarah Melancon, Ph.D, a sociologist, clinical sexologist and resident expert at The Sex Toy Collective. 

Blood play can happen in a variety of different ways (because people are into different things). It can include sex during menstruation, vampire role play, doctor role play, using instruments to carefully draw blood (such as knives, needles or surgical instruments) and giving/receiving body piercings. This list isn’t exhaustive, but you get the point. 

If all of this sounds kinky as all hell, that’s because it is.

Why are people into it?

Blood play is a pretty niche activity within the BDSM community. Ness Cooper, a retired pro Dom who specialized in blood play, says that “those into blood play may be a masochist wishing to have blood-letting style injuries occur on their body.” Those who enjoy performing blood-letting activities on their partner may get erotically stimulated by seeing their partner’s blood. 

As with all BDSM, there is often a huge element of power play involved in blood play. For instance, in a doctor role-play scene, the doctor (the Dom) is taking blood from their patient (the sub). Powerplay can be hugely erotic — and erotic pain can be very intense.

For those who enjoy blood play, benefits include the rush of “endorphins [that] can add a ‘natural high,’” Melancon says. “Blood play can feel very intimate.” There is definitely something highly animalistic and primal about blood. After all, it’s a fluid that has had poetic weight for centuries. See: Dracula, Twilight and, yes, Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly. Cooper says that people who enjoy vampire fantasies often drink each other’s blood in an “almost romantic way.” 

Long story short: People are into blood play because it’s primal, raw, involves power play, is bonding and remains relatively taboo, even in a society that is (however slowly) becoming increasingly open-minded about many forms of kink.

The risks of blood play

Coming as a surprise to literally no one, blood play can be quite risky. Cutting yourself or another person comes with the possibility of infection or the spread of STIs. There is also the risk of scarring to consider. Cooper says that the (consensual and desired) fear that accompanies blood play can mess with blood pressure, increasing the risk of shock or panic attacks.

Dr. Daniel Boyer, MD, a specialist in internal medicine and medical research, says it’s important to consider any “medical condition that may be triggered by this sexual act, such as [a] history self-harm, blood clots or [if you are] currently using certain medication like blood thinners.”

In addition to the physical dangers, Melancon says that blood play can also carry emotional risks: “Blood play is not for beginners. You should already feel comfortable communicating and advocating for your sexual needs and boundaries.” This means feeling like you have the ability to say no or walk away if something doesn’t feel right.

How to do blood play safely

Safety around blood play starts with everyone wanting to engage with it. BDSM stresses the importance of negotiation and enthusiastic consent. These same rules of consent, communication and understanding are involved with blood play — and they are critical as blood can be dangerous (which, of course, is one reason why it’s hot).

If you decide to cut your skin or someone else’s, it’s crucial that you make sure the implement is fully sterilized. Boyer says that everyone involved in blood play should first get a full STI panel to rule out any blood-borne STIs, such as HIV and Hep B.

It’s also a really good idea to get some training from someone in the BDSM community. Obviously this isn’t doable for everyone, but it’s worth looking into. 

Of course, the best safety option is to use a blood alternative. Check out your local costume store (or Amazon Prime) and get some Halloween blood capsules. They have the color and texture of real blood (for the most part), without involving the worry of physical pain, scarring or possible STI transmission. Boyer also suggests using wine. Blood and a good buzz? Sounds like a win-win.

Cleanup tips for the wary

Now, if you’re concerned about the mess, you’re definitely not alone. This is probably one of the main things that makes the otherwise blood-curious rule blood out of their sex life. Cleaning up is a drag, and blood is extremely messy.

Prepare your playplace in advance

Prepping for blood play is essential if you don’t want to destroy your nice sheets. Melancon suggests using “old sheets or towels, puppy pads, incontinence pads, waterproof sheets (or a mattress cover), or even plastic tarps.” 

Get high-quality wipes

Cooper advises that you use “medical grade body and surface wipes, [which] can help clean up areas quickly. While the aim isn’t to produce too much blood or cut deeply, even some surface cuts can bleed like a bitch and lead to a crime scene-like mess.”

Be careful with disinfection

First-aid goes a long way post-play. Be sure to have bandages and a dedicated bin specifically for any sharp objects used. After you’re finished, clean any cuts with soap and water, apply an anti-bacterial ointment and a bandage.

Blood play can be super fun, but it does need to be done with care. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with being into blood; everyone’s sexual blueprint is unique. We’re not here to yuck anyone’s yum — we just want to be sure your yum is done as safely as possible.

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