Home > Sex > Sexual diversity Updated 31 October 2014 How to ease into the BDSM lifestyle Sexologist Dr Elna McIntosh gives advice for those who are keen to explore the BDSM (bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism) lifestyle. 0 Check Are you a sex addict? » Ask Sexologist » Join Health24 on Facebook » Quiz Are you ready for sex? » SEE: What happens to your body during sex? How porn addiction can affect your sex life If you are going to participate in the BDSM lifestyle to the point where you engage in play with another person then if I may, I would like to make the following suggestions. Beware of users, everyone is not your friendSome people have their own agendas which may not be in your best interests. Take your time. If you are going to join an existing community or group or singularly, find out who these people are and what their intentions may be.Ask a lot of questionsMake questions within the community about those with whom you intent to play. What precautions do they take? What safety measures do they have in place? How much experience do they actually have in a particular practise? Are they known for this experience within the general community? Has anyone actually seen them play? Do they provide a workshop explaining procedures, safety, concerns? Are they making a profit? Do you have to sign anything over to them? Is the contract they are offering legal, binding and are your interests protected? Explore before you joinI would recommend attending some small functions or munches (informal social gatherings, usually at a restaurant, pub, or other public place, for people who are interested in BDSM or other similar lifestyles). Perhaps attend a play party purely in an observer mode. Arrange with the organisers, let them know this is exactly what you want to do. Observe and let them know that you have no intention of playing. That way you will be supervised, protected and afforded this right with no pressure to play. Say what you wantIn a proper play setting Dungeon Masters would be made aware of your wishes. It is quite likely also in a properly controlled play setting that you would be expected to attend some sort of interview with the organisers, prior to attending, so they may ascertain exactly how much experience you have had, if any. Be patient. In the meantime, before you start playing, get some practical grounding in safe, sane and consensual BDSM practices, explore Tantra and yoga. Take a SM101 course to get practical information on safety. Read: All about Tantra and Tantric sexAs in all things preparation is the key. Make the effort, protect yourself, be aware, question, don't be overwhelmed by new experiences, step back and look at them for what they are, don't be afraid to say NO, play safely, sanely and consensually and enjoy yourself knowing you have taken the proper precautions. You have started down a long road.A journey that is amazing as it often turns out to be a journey within one's self. A travel destination we should all have at some point in our lives. Just remember: always Safe, Sane and Consensual. If BDSM is not for you, you need to tell your partner this, and not feel cohersed into something that is not for you.Read more: Cross-dressing and other fetishesDewani's penchant for masochismHow kinky is your town?Image: Dominatrix, from Shutterstock More in Sex Transgender no longer to be classified as mental disorder More: SexSexual diversity advertisement Read Health24’s Comments Policy Comment on this story 0 comments Comments have been closed for this article. Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Loading comments... From our sponsors Keep an eye on your vision Which skin products are better, ‘medical grade’ or ‘over-the-counter’? Win 1 of 6 R5000 cash prizes Win Skin Renewal voucher Live healthier Exercise benefits for seniors » Working out in the concrete jungle Even a little exercise may help prevent dementia Here’s an unexpected way to boost your memory: running Seniors who exercise recover more quickly from injury or illness When sedentary older adults got into an exercise routine, it curbed their risk of suffering a disabling injury or illness and helped them recover if anything did happen to them. No relief for MS » Drug shows promise against MS in mouse study Vitamin D may slow multiple sclerosis Obesity in girls tied to higher MS risk Exercise may not lower women's risk of MS A Harvard study showed no evidence to support the idea that exercise lowers the risk of multiple sclerosis.