Sexual Satisfaction and Distress in Sexual Functioning in a Sample of the BDSM Community: A Comparison Study Between BDSM and Non-BDSM Contexts

Patrícia Monteiro Pascoal, Daniel Cardoso, Rui Henriques

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22 Citations (Scopus)


Little attention has been paid to distress in sexual functioning or the sexual satisfaction of people who practice BDSM (Bondage and Discipline, Domination and Submission, Sadism and Masochism). Aim: The purpose of this study was to describe sociodemographic characteristics and BDSM practices and compare BDSM practitioners' sexual outcomes (in BDSM and non-BDSM contexts). Methods: A convenience sample of 68 respondents completed an online survey that used a participatory research framework. Cronbach's alpha and average inter-item correlations assessed scale reliability, and the Wilcoxon paired samples test compared the total scores between BDSM and non-BDSM contexts separately for men and women. Open-ended questions about BDSM sexual practices were coded using a preexisting thematic tree. Main Outcome Measures: We used self-reported demographic factors, including age at the onset of BDSM interest, age at first BDSM experience, and favorite and most frequent BDSM practices. The Global Measure of Sexual Satisfaction measured the amount of sexual distress, including low desire, arousal, maintaining arousal, premature orgasm, and anorgasmia. Results: The participants had an average age of 33.15 years old and were highly educated and waited 6 years after becoming interested in BDSM to act on their interests. The practices in which the participants most frequently engaged did not coincide with the practices in which they were most interested and were overwhelmingly conducted at home. Comparisons between genders in terms of distress in sexual functioning in BDSM and non-BDSM contexts demonstrate that, with the exception of maintaining arousal, we found distress in sexual functioning to be statistically the same in BDSM and non-BDSM contexts for women. For men, we found that distress in sexual functioning, with the exception of premature orgasm and anorgasmia, was statistically significantly lower in the BDSM context. There were no differences in sexual satisfaction between BDSM and non-BDSM contexts for men or women. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that BDSM sexual activity should be addressed in clinical settings that account for BDSM identities, practices, relationships, preferences, sexual satisfaction, and distress in sexual function for men and women. Additional research needs are identified, such as the need to define distressful sexual functioning experiences and expand our understanding of the development of BDSM sexual identities. Pascoal PM, Cardoso D, and Henriques R. Sexual satisfaction and distress in sexual functioning in a sample of the BDSM community: A comparison study between BDSM and non-BDSM contexts. J Sex Med 2015;12:1052-1061

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1052-1061
Number of pages10
JournalJournal Of Sexual Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015


  • BDSM
  • Gender Comparison
  • Sexual Distress
  • Sexual Function
  • Sexual Satisfaction


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