You Can Get Some Awesome Health Benefits From Kinky Sex, Says a New Study

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Photo: JOSH DICKINSON / STYLED BY: ALEX BRANNIAN

You probably already knew sex had benefits—it can lower your blood pressure, help you sleep, boost your mood, and plenty of other legit biological effects—but what most of us didn’t know until now is that kinky sex might have its own bonus payoff. BDSM sex play, it turns out, won’t just turn you on and get you off (though it’ll do that, too), it may significantly cut down on stress, make you feel happier, and potentially even make you more creative, suggests a recent small study in Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice.

An acronym for Bondage and Discipline; Dominance and Submission; and Sadism and Masochism, BDSM is a type of kink that’s popular among millennials, and refers to couples who engage in any kind of dominant-submissive power play during sex. Play often involves dirty talk, bondage, or role-playing in which the dominant partner directs the submissive partner to do something—and rewards or “punishes” them with spanking or other actions if they don’t do as directed. As you can tell, it often involves quite a bit of fantasy and imagination—which might help explain its proven benefits.

MORE: 10 Sex Positions to Help You Mix it Up in Bed

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JOSH DICKINSON / STYLED BY: ALEX BRANNIAN

The study focused on 14 experienced BDSM practitioners, assigning each a random role—dominant or submissive—and having them act out various BDSM play scenes, from touching to hitting and bondage. Researchers did physical and psychological tests on the participants before, during, and after, and found that both positions, but especially dominant ones, were associated with altered states of consciousness and psychological “flow,” which refers to being completely mentally absorbed, focused, and “in the zone” with a particular activity. People who were in submissive roles were also likelier to achieve an altered mental state called transient hyperfrontality, which can be compared to daydreaming, endurance running, meditation, hypnosis, and even drug-induced states.

Other than the fact that it might make you feel like you’re rolling on E, engaging in BDSM play may also help you feel less stressed out, more positive, and more aroused. The takeaway: If your usual vanilla routine hasn’t been doing it for you lately—or if the stress of this election has taken away your sex drive altogether—mixing it up with a little dominant-submissive play or bondage could potentially help. Science is a beautiful thing.

MORE: An Inside Look at 10 Fascinating Sex Fetishes

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