If you are discovering kink and finding your way into the scene, you might have well already encountered the term electrical play. Although we will explore the world of electro play more extensively, the focus of this article is on the use of TENS units.

“Electrical Play, or electro/electrosex, involves the use of electrical currents to cause a stimulating effect on nerves in the body.”

TENS explained

Meet the TENS unit, a box of electrical magic, actually intended to treat those with various conditions such as fasciitis, back pain or support during labor through the induction of electrical stimulation.

TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. Not very sexy when used for its original purpose. However, kinksters wouldn’t be kinksters if they wouldn’t have thought up a far more sexy application then just treatment of pain.

I personally used a TENS machine in the early stages of labor as pain relief. The electrical impulses can reduce the pain signals going to the spinal cord and brain, which may help relieve pain and relax muscles. They may also stimulate the production of endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers. And a LOT of play in BDSM is about those endorphins, so TENS play can add a nice extra ‘high’.

All in all, TENS units are made for safe electrical stimulation of the body, making them a great way to start discovering the wonderful world of Electrical play.
There are many different kinds of units available. You can buy them in medical supply stores and nowadays increasingly in erotic toy stores as well.

A closer look at a TENS unit

A basic TENS unit consists of the following:

  • a power box, which is usually battery operated and has the buttons and knobs to change settings and intensity;
  • Pads to be connected to the power box which can be placed on different parts of your body;

This is basically all that you need to have some fun. Mind you, if you want to plunge in more deeply there are several more advanced toys available such as cock rings and buttplugs that can also be connected to a TENS unit.

Whenever discovering something new, it’s always a good idea to start small, not too small, but buying a lot of stuff only to find out that it’s not for you, is just a waste of money. You can buy a simple but safe TENS unit for as little as US$ 25 at Walmart or your favorite drug store.

Basic use of a TENS unit

The secret of playing with TENS, is the right placement of the pads. It’s what makes or breaks a scene. In some cases, placing the pads the wrong way can have quite some shocking effects. But then again – sometimes that’s what you’re looking for.

Physics lesson incoming: The TENS unit is designed to send a small electrical current from one pad to the other, creating a circuit, which basically means that a small part of your body will conduct the current from one pad to the other pad, causing a muscle to contract, or relax, or do both, or create flexion.

Muscle contraction in certain places can be very erotic, and can even lead you to orgasm.

If you are the one who is operating the unit and effectively the “giver” in this Electrical play scene, I would advise you to try using the pads on yourself to start with. That way you know what it feels like, and find out what those intensity settings actually do. It will allow you to better estimate if you will make your partner moan or scream in horror.

You can start out with placing one pad on top your thigh muscle and one pad a little lower down, the thigh muscle is a good indicator as it is a big muscle that will react to stimuli easily and it can handle a bit of current. I remember my husband having good fun trying out the TENS on himself and making different muscle groups do funny things. It’s a toy after all 😉

Once you’ve experimented with yourself it’s time to start some actual play fun with your partner.

As always start slow, keep communicating with your partner and slowly amp it up.
TENS of thousands of ways to pleasure

So, now you’re aware of the basics it’s time to get down to some actual fun.

When it comes to pleasure or orgasms there are a couple of places that would be well suited for electrical stimulation. Vulva’s and penises are very sensitive and can handle pads very well.

For folks with vulva’s placing a pad on either side of the opening or on either side of the clitoris can induce a lot of fun.

And for those of us with penises, placing a pad on the perineum and on the frenulum will surely cause a shockwave of pleasure.

Mind you, in both cases, it might be a wise plan to shave those areas, or depilate in any way you’d want. Mainly because these pads are sticky, and with that I mean, sticky as sticky the stick-insect stuck on a sticky bun sticky(now say that 10 times fast).

So applying the pads won’t be a problem as they will stick, removing them, however, could cause some discomfort as you might be pulling some hairs along as well, yikes! And even masochists tend to not like that sort of pain 🙂

Now, make sure the pads are nice and flat across the whole surface, if you have folds or anything like that, remove them and apply again. If the pads do not stick completely, they might result in some unwanted and unexpected discomfort.

Again, start slow, TENS stimulation can be described as prickly, buzzy, massaging, throbbing (oh yes! Throbbing) and even suckling.

Depending on where the dial on the TENS unit is set to, this can be done rhythmically or through a constant buzz or anything in between, and this is so much fun!

Risks of TENS machines

For most people, TENS machines are safe with no side effects. Some people may be allergic to the pads. If your skin becomes irritated, you can get hypoallergenic pads in medical stores.

Having said that, not everyone should play with TENS – or electrical play of any sorts. Don’t engage in electro play without consulting medical advice if:

  • you have a pacemaker or another type of electrical or metal implant in your body
  • you’re pregnant, or there’s a chance you might be pregnant, certainly not in early pregnancy
  • you have epilepsy or a heart problem

Never place the pads over:

  • the front or sides of your neck
  • your temples
  • mouth or eyes
  • your chest and upper back at the same time
  • irritated, infected or broken skin
  • varicose veins
  • numb areas

And naturally, don’t use any electrical play in context with water – that goes without saying. But let’s say it just to be on the safe side. (Water based lube is fine though!)

Pro tip: If you are in a relationship where you do not need to use a condom during sex, using TENS unit can be fun: Place one pad on the perineum and one right above the clit and turn on the unit while engaging in sexual intercourse, it will probably blow your mind!

But like I said in the beginning – generally speaking, TENS units are very safe. And an excellent way for beginners to experiment with electrical play. Experiment, find out what you and your partner enjoy, in any way that you would find enjoyment. And most of all have fun!

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Sonja is a co-founder of boldpleasures. She's on a mission to free people to revel in their true sensuality by removing the stigma surrounding kink. Sonja writes about first steps, ditching the shame and how to combine kink and 'normal' family life. She's a mother of two and happily married.

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