What BDSM Can Teach The Chronic Illness Community

beige block on left side of square and right side has a photo of a feminine person with a black mask over their eyes and they are sticking their left pointer finger in their mouth, showing off their tongue and simple band on ring finger; on left, beige text in various black text boxes: "What BDSM Can Teach The Chronic Illness Community"; black text at middle "chronic sex"

BDSM (Bondage/Discipline and Dominance/Submission and Sadism/Masochism) winds up being very misunderstood.

People who don’t quite understand the whole scene think all sorts of things about those who are into it – it involves creepy anonymous sex with everyone and abuse, etc. Even health care professionals don’t get it, except some really great ones.

One of the things that many don’t know is how central consent is to the scene.

A LOT of conversation happens around these issues. People discuss sensations, actions, inactions, words, and more. Aftercare, which I’ll touch on later, is also discussed. These negotiations can take a few hours or a few minutes, depending on familiarity with each other, the scene, and other factors. It’s almost always longer when people first start playing together, though.

Checklists to go over what might be on your yes/no/maybe list are plenty and you can check out an example here.

Code words

Code words or safe words are something people usually know about BDSM. A safe word is a way to stop a scene/playtime. This can have varying stages, which is why I’ve written code words here.

You have words that can completely stop and mean we move right to aftercare. You may have words that ask for things to stop and for a check-in. You might also have words that signal you’re having a damn good time. It all depends on the negotiation process and those involved.

I use code words/phrases all the time. In fact, a lot of us do but don’t always call them that. We may say we are out of some unit of energy or running low on battery. When I was able to hike, the hubs and I came up with a term that would signal I needed to turn back. Since we’re history nerds, we used ‘bingo fuel’ which was the point where pilots only had enough fuel to get back to base and needed to turn around.

Even something as simple as saying “It needs to be a pizza night because I can’t cook right now” can be a code phrase.


BDSM can be very emotional, not unlike how some of the chronic illness/disability sexual experiences. Aftercare is a must.

It looks different for everyone but can include treating potential wounds, tea, snuggling, a check-in call the next day, and more.

Interested in learning more?

If you would like to explore what kinks may be right for you, you can take this test or check out the checklist I mentioned above. Before you get into the scene, you may want to check in with education-based sex shops in your area to see if they know of any events or classes. You can create an account on Fetlife to see what might be happening in your area as well.

I highly suggest reading more about BDSM before you get involved, though. It can be really great. Additionally, you may want to visit Lady Sophia, a dominatrix and sex educator in Chicago, who offers classes on various aspects of BDSM.

Update on MedX Schedule

Hi all, Quick update that there has been a slight change to the MedX schedule. I will NOT be presenting today (Thursday 9-15) BUT will be presenting on Sunday at 2:20 PM. This is not live-streamed but I will aim to have someone record it. I definitely invite you to still tune into the live-feed […]