What to know about kink, sexual health, and safe exploration

For those who are exploring kink for the first time, it can help to understand what qualifies as “kinky”. Under the umbrella of sex, fantasy, and roleplay, there are a lot of different types of play scenarios (sometimes called “scenes”) and fetishes. Some are common, others you may have to look harder for. Anything (and we do mean anything) that bends away from the “norm” (kissing, oral, penetration, masturbation) can be considered a kink. 

Orgies, cruising, public sex, and other forms of voyeurism are all fairly common ways some people explore their kinky side. Other sex acts folks might be into include fisting, watersports, chastity cages and orgasm denial, blood, and scat play. Some people are sexually attracted to non-sexual items. Fantasies and roleplay scenes are common. 

Some (but not all) of these fetishes are tied to a larger community of people who are into them. These days, fetish communities that get mainstream media attention include leather, rubber, BDSM, puppy play, and furries. Some folks are not defined by one kink, fetish, or community. Experimenting with different scenes, and understanding your boundaries helps new kinksters figure who they are, and what they’re into. In order to have the healthiest, sexiest experience with kink, it’s important to understand how to keep yourself physically and mentally safe, and what effective sexual health strategies look like.

Safe Exploration

Safe exploration starts with asking yourself these questions: what makes a good scene? How comfortable do I feel right now? Am I having fun doing this? Knowing your limits is just as important as knowing what turns you on. 

If you’re trying out a new kink with a partner, having conversations about fantasies and boundaries helps keep things safe and sexy for everyone. Knowing exactly what you want from a kink/play scene is key. BDSM, for example, is technically six different things (Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, Submission, Sadism, and Masochism). It could include anything from a light spanking or handcuffs, to dominant/submissive pain play. Talking kinks through with a partner should also involve discussing trust, power dynamics, hard limits, and developing safe words for when it’s time to stop. It’s important to lay out the ground rules before you start having sex. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds! If you’re flirting with another kinkster on an app, this is all stuff you’ll wanna cover when you ask each other what you’re into. 

Mental Health

Having a good understanding of your triggers and mental health and the triggers and mental health of your partners is also a really important part of kinky play. It might really get you off when someone calls you “daddy” during sex, but that langauge may be a major turn off for the guy you’re with. If you’re engaging in dom/sub play, find the language that helps get everyone off without making anybody involved uncomfortable (in a way they don’t enjoy). 

Roleplay and headspace fetishes can put people in a very sensitive mental place. Being brought to that place might be part of what makes those kinks exciting, but if you’re in a scene where you’re in charge of a person in a vulnerable state, you have an obligation to treat them right. When you’re getting into more intense play, a bad experience can lead to someone getting legitimately hurt, so engaging in kink requires even more responsibility to protect yourself and your partners than vanilla sex. 

If you’re being submissive, take a minute to reflect on where you’re at physically and mentally. It’s important that you feel good and safe. You might not be ready to be someone’s “boy”, get into your pup gear, or go to a sex party with a bunch of people, and that’s ok! The best play partners are patient and understanding, and they’ll encourage you to speak up if you’re uncomfortable. Finding the words and the right moment to talk about sex and mental health can be challenging for some people. If you’re having trouble figuring out how to talk about your mental health, or your kinks and how to express them, there are great services and service providers in communities across Ontario. You could also try checking out Goodhead.

Testing and Treatment for STIs

Engaging in kink also involves staying on top of your sexual health and regular STI testing. If you’re into fisting, spanking, flogging, or fucking really rough, blood might be present depending how hard you go. HIV and Hep C can be passed through breaks in the skin—including inside your ass or front hole/vagina, especially if you’re sharing toys or items like paddles and whips that haven’t been sterilized. Always wash your toys with disinfectant soap before and after use. Oral dams or condoms can be used on some sex toys if you’re playing with multiple partners at once. When one person is done being penetrated by a toy with a condom on it, don’t forget to change the condom before you start using it on someone else. Don’t share lube or gloves between holes either. HIV and Hep C can also be passed on through shared tubs of lube, if there’s blood or cum on someone’s hand when they dip in.

If you’re unsure whether or not certain activities put you at risk for Hep C or other STIs, CATIE is a great source for information and services. They’ve also created a safer sex guide to help you learn more about how to stay healthy and satisfied when having kinky fun. And remember to get your throat and butt swabbed too. A lot of chlamydia and gonorrhea infections are missed because guys who are bottoming or sucking dick only do a urine sample test, and don’t swab the other body parts they play with.

Keeping up-to-date on the resources that are available will help you stay healthy. For HIV prevention, testing, and treatment, there are lots of different options across Ontario. If you aren’t on PrEP and want to learn more about it, Ontario PrEP has information on how to get started. PrEPstart can also give you a three month supply of PrEP for free if you don’t have a drug plan. Other services like the PrEP Clinic can also help people without coverage get on PrEP. They’re also helpful if you don’t feel you can talk about PrEP with your healthcare provider, or if you want PrEP delivered right to your door. Getting tested for HIV regularly means that if you do test positive, you’ll know right away and can start treatment. And if you’re poz, connect with your local HIV/AIDS service organization for programming, support, and resources.

If you’re participating in kinks that have a higher potential for Hepatitis exposure—including fisting, rimming, and scat play—look into getting vaccinated. Vaccines are available for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. There’s no vaccine for Hepatitis C, but there is effective treatment. Get tested regularly if you’re into rougher sex, fisting, blood play, or anything that might increase the presence of blood during sex. 

HPV vaccination is also a good way to prevent HPV infection, reduce the severity of HPV symptoms, and prevent cancers associated with some strains of HPV (especially throat and anal cancers). 


Stigma affects queer people in many different ways, which is why visibility in the kink community is so important. Kinks and fetishes are a healthy, sexy, and fun (not to mention common) way to express yourself in the bedroom, the bathhouse, or anywhere you may end up having fun. As long as you and your partner(s) are all into it and caring for each other, that’s all that matters.