Illustration by the amazingly talented Amie Wee from heyweeirdo
For most of us there’s a very good reason the thought of ‘electro’ and ‘sex’ can seem daunting or downright scary. We all had the ‘fork in the toaster’ lesson at some point in time, right? So straight off the bat let’s get one thing straight: the ‘electricity’ we refer in this article is in no way comparable to that which we’d encounter if we were shocked by that toaster (which, thanks to the invention of safety switches, is a rare occurrence these days). Now let’s all get some tingles in our collective dingles! MisKnickers is here to share the buzz on electro play.
What does electro play feel like?
The short answer is amazing! You’re using a specifically designed, safe device to elicit sexual arousal by an electric current. And there is nothing else quite like it. Electrosex toys are designed with various levels of intensity – anything from tickling sensation to a current which will make you jump. So if you want to try something other than the vibrating sex toys which are on the market electroplay can be enjoyed by everyone as it focusses on sexual stimulation.
But before we get into all the lovely tingly bits, let’s get the safety stuff clear:
- Keep your electroplay below the waist. (There’s been debate in kink circles about the wisdom of using electroplay above the waist, but it seems there’s been some consensus. Don’t. Any closer and there is too much potential for unforeseen reactions from the heart or brain.) And honestly, there’s so much going on down there anyway, why would you risk it?
- People with pacemakers are a hard no. Never.
- People with heart issues… I mean, no.
- If you have any metal implants (hip or knee replacements, pins from accidents) you should keep well away.
- Make sure your playspace is hazard-free, and particularly watch the metal and water situation with the violet wand.
- Always be aware of the condition of your cords, and never use them if they show any signs of fraying or tears to the outer coating.
- Keep an eye on the recipient’s skin while playing – electricity is heat and too much can cause burning.
- Do your due diligence in learning about the device you’re using.
How do electroplay toys work?
There are three main device types used in electroplay – pulse-based, electrostatic, and AC/DC. For this article we are focused mainly on pulse-based. It is by far the safest option for fun exploration as the toys are created specifically for use on the body, and use either low-powered batteries, or an adapter that reduces the incoming voltage. E-stim toys are based on the same technology that runs a TENS unit, which is used medically in pain management and physical therapy. The TENS (Trans-dermal Electrical Nerve Stimulation) device works by interrupting the electrical impulses travelling through the nervous system to the brain, and hijacking the information flow. Therapeutically, this helps with pain management by cutting off the pain messaging to the brain. Sexually, it can lead to a whole other level of arousal.
Before you think electrodes on your junk, stop! Now, imagine your first encounter with your favourite vibrator… the surprised gasps and surrendered groans as this little buzzbox of joy brought unforeseen feels to your gens. E-stim toys are just like your traditional vibe, plug, or cockring, but use small pulses of electricity rather than vibration.
And just like traditional vibration toys, much of the wonderful sensations are achieved by its use. There’s a myth surrounding electrosex that simple placement of a toy will engage the right electric pulses and nerve endings for a user to achieve orgasm without so much of a wiggle. This is bullshit. But it is true that E-stim toys can be a great assistance to orgasm. The pulse-based electric waves are designed to infiltrate the nervous system's pleasure centre, rushing information to the brain. Arousal can be quickened, both in time and intensity, the whole pelvis can be more generally activated, and for those who have trouble turning their brain ‘off’ during sex, this can really help stop the overthinking (without having to think about it!).
Now, back to electrodes on your junk – we can go there now. The abovementioned TENS unit is the best and safest way to explore the multitude of ways electrodes can be used directly on all those wondrous nerves endings, be it to enhance sex, foreplay, or just as kinky sensation play.
Electricity is used in the kink and BDSM community as a tool for both pleasure and pain. Again, because of the dangers associated with electricity, and the amount of genuine knowledge one needs to safely play with anything other than commercial devices specifically made for human bodies, we are only looking at the very basics here.
These give a tingly, static-shock, prickly sensation, that some find almost ticklish, and others find almost uncomfortable. If you’ve been to a science museum it’s similar to the plasma sphere where the lightning moves around as you touch the sphere’s surface. It’s not a particularly ‘painful’ toy, and is used more for sensation than sadism. The hazards of the violet wand have to do with prolonged use resulting in mild burns and sneakier hazards like metal and water. Keep violet wand play away from open drinks, take out any piercings and remove all your jewellery – these can make for very unpleasant shocks.
As mentioned earlier, the TENS Unit is the safest electroplay option as it is designed specifically for human use. And while it’s true that the violet wand was also initially developed as a therapeutic tool, its use of electrostatic electricity makes it more difficult to control adding an extra elements of risk. TENS Units require the placement of electrodes, and in kinky sensation play, the electrodes are placed to stimulate either particular body parts, or give a series of general sensations. Sensations vary depending on three main things; the placement of the electrodes – not only the body part, but the distance between them, the size of the electrodes, and the pace of the pulse. As you can imagine, there is much to explore.
If someone asks you to play with an electrical toy they’ve made, ensure they have a degree in electrical engineering, or don’t trust them with your life. This could only ever be a consideration for those who practice an edgier side of RACK or PRICK.
Basically, be respectful. Electricity is a pretty huge energy, and no one wants you having a shocker of a time. There’s a reason so many kinksters enjoy the sensual nature of electro. There’s a reason why new tech is incorporating electro directly into their sex toys. Maybe there’s a reason you’re keen to explore?