Baby, If It's Not Rough It Isn't Fun — What is rough sex?

If you're into sex that goes a little beyond vanilla, you're not the only one. While the kinkier side of sex might feel taboo, research tells us that up to 70% of people enjoy some form of rough sex or BDSM play.

Still, it's not always easy to find information on what rough sex is, exactly — and what makes it so pleasurable.

What Is Considered Rough Sex?

Rough sex isn't easy to define. It covers a broad range of sexual activities, like more aggressive thrusting, more primal sex, spanking from behind, or even a full-blown BDSM scene. Different people will see the meaning of "rough" during sex differently.

In general, it's safe to say that rough sex refers to some form of aggressive behavior during sex. This can include fast and vigorous movement, primal behavior, or even pleasurable pain.

rough sex

Before we dive deeper into the term, it's important to note that rough sex is consensual, playful, and enjoyable for both parties. It doesn't verge into abuse or violence. These behaviors don't result in any serious injury — all rude behavior should occur in a safe and consenting context. Rough sex is painful — but only if everyone involved is okay with it.

That said, rough sex can be enjoyable and satisfying for both parties. One study found that men and women reported more frequent and intense orgasms during rough sex. Overall, they found the experience more arousing.

In particular, women reported orgasming much faster during rough sex. Given that there's already an "orgasm gap," with women taking much longer to orgasm on average, this could be one reason why rough sex is so widely desired by women.

There's no shortage of reasons when it comes down to why people like rough sex. Some people enjoy diving into the darker and more intense side of sex, while others are just excited by the prospect of mixing up their sex life with something a little spicier. Rough sex in the bedroom is all about creating a safe space to explore new desires, play with power dynamics and get in touch with a more primal side.

What is Rough Sex Also Known As? 

Rough sex isn't one-size-fits-all. There's so much out there that can fall under the definition of "rough sex."

These other names, including: might also know it

  • Hardcore sex
  • Forceful sex
  • Kinky sex
  • Wild sex
  • Hate sex
  • Violent sex

rough sex with sex toys

Keep in mind that these terms can mean different things to different people. It's essential to be on the same page with your partner about what exactly you want to try out in the bedroom — as well as your hard limits on what you don't want to try.

Is Rough Sex Considered a Fetish (or Part of BDSM)?

Playing with the rougher side of sex is part of the broader BDSM category. But that doesn't mean you need to be involved in the BDSM "lifestyle" or be part of that community at all to take part in rough sex.

Even the term "rough sex" can be more or less kinky, depending on how far you want to take it. You might enjoy a more physical or intense form of sex without any interest in dominance or submission. Some BDSM elements — spanking, restraints, commands, or full-on bondage — can also be present in rough play. It all comes down to what you and your partner prefer.

If you're looking to lean more into a kinky territory, a seven-piece bondage set (with all the goodies you need) is a great place to start. Or try this limited edition gold-toned version for the ultimate exploration into BDSM.

Is Taking Part in or Being Interested in Rough Sex Normal?

Short answer: Yes!

Many people are interested in rough sex — and this interest has always existed in some form.

A landmark study in 1953 by the Kinsey Institute found that 55% of women and 50% of men had an erotic response to biting.

Human beings have probably always had wild and kinky desires, and we probably always will. So if you're feeling these desires too, know that it's perfectly normal to explore and embrace this part of your sexuality. Better yet, it can be fun!

What Is the Appeal of Rough Sex?

There are many reasons why people might be interested in rough sex — beyond the incredible orgasms.

Participants in a study pointed out a few "triggers" for engaging in rough sex, meaning things that turned them on and got them in the mood for having sex on the wilder side.

Some of these triggers include: 

  • Playing out a fantasy
  • Trying something new in the bedroom
  • Maintaining sexual excitement 
  • Carrying over arousal from something else (an argument, a fight, or having just exercised)

Many people who have rough sex describe it as liberating. It offers a safe space where partners can play out their deepest fantasies, including power play, submission, and sexual intensity.

What Should You Discuss Before Exploring Rough Sex? 

rough sex with fantasies

All healthy and safe sex requires good communication. But it's even more critical when it comes to rough sex — or any kinky play.

Once you're caught up in the heat of the moment, it's a lot harder to draw clear boundaries about what each partner is comfortable with. Take a moment beforehand to discuss what you and your partner are comfortable doing (and anything that's a hard no).

It's also a good idea to decide on a safe word. This allows either partner to stop the action at any time.

What Should You Expect to Happen During Rough Sex? 

There's a massive difference between having your partner push you up against a wall and having a partner tie you to the bed and spank you (maybe even with a whip). Anything and everything can happen under the definition of "rough sex." It's not necessarily what you do, but rather how you do it — hard, fast, and rough.

That being said, here are a few of the dominant themes (pardon the pun) for rough sex:

  • Restraint with the hands
  • Control with a bondage tool, like cuffs
  • Roleplay
  • Biting or scratching 
  • Vigorous kissing 
  • Hair-pulling 
  • Grabbing or pushing 
  • Ripping off clothing 
  • Hard-thrusting 
  • Spanking 
  • Slapping
  • Dirty talking 
  • Manhandling 
  • Sensory deprivation (gags, blindfolds, and masks)

How to Bring Up Your Interest in Rough Sex With a Partner‌

Want to get more passionate, intense, and kinky in bed? It can be intimidating to approach the subject with your partner, but fear not. There's a good chance they've thought about something similar — or they have secret fantasies of their own.

Ask them when they're comfortable and let them know that you won't do anything that either of you isn't comfortable with. Together, you can work out how to have the best rough sex for both of you.

Whether it's hair-pulling or some light bondage, make sure both you and your partner are enthusiastic about the idea.

Can Rough Sex Cause Vaginal Bleeding?

While it can be sexy and exciting, rough sex is exactly what the name implies. This means that safety considerations are essential.

Regardless of what you're doing in the bedroom, there's always a risk of bruising or scratching. If anything hurts (too much) or feels uncomfortable, don't be afraid to communicate this with your partner so you can switch positions, stop or try something else.

If you're concerned and want to know how to heal from rough sex, some remedies you can try are:

  • Over-the-counter pain medicine, like ibuprofen
  • Antiseptic cream (if the issue isn't inside your vagina)
  • Cold compress

Remember to use plenty of lube to avoid vaginal tearing or bleeding, especially if there's vigorous thrusting involved. It's not uncommon to see some light spotting, but seek medical attention for any heavy bleeding.

Can You Have Rough Sex While Pregnant?

If pregnant, rough sex can still be okay. However, it's essential to take precautions.

The cervix may be more sensitive, so avoid intense thrusting and keep an eye out for any vaginal bleeding. Avoid hitting or spanking anywhere near the stomach area — as well as more complex sex positions that could add pressure to the abdomen or cause you to fall.

What Should You Do as Part of Aftercare Following Rough Sex?‌

rough sex girls

Ever taken a moment to cuddle with your partner post-romp? In the BDSM world, that's called aftercare. It's an essential part of all rough sex — a time for you to take care of your partner (and vice versa).

Take the time to decompress, talk to your partner, and tend to any of your needs. This can include:

  • Icing any bruises, scratches, or sore spots
  • Rehydrating and eating something if you need it
  • Cuddling or kissing your partner
  • Having a massage session
  • Watching a movie or reading

This also allows you to work through things emotionally. Don't be surprised if rough play brings up some heavy feelings — it's normal. Check in with yourself and your partner to unpack all your emotions. What did you like about the experience? What would you want to do differently next time?

Leveling up Your Sex Life with Rough Sex 

Slow and sensual sex can be incredible in a lot of ways. But not everybody wants it soft and sweet all the time. 

Getting a bit rough can be satisfying and liberating for consenting partners. Whether it's about living out a fantasy, releasing the tension, or upping the intimacy and trust, the desire to get off hard and fast is never something you should be ashamed of. 

The bottom line is that no matter what you're doing in the bedroom, always make sure both parties are comfortable and consent. If anything starts to hurt or crosses a line, immediately stop and communicate with your partner.

References:

Bondage-Discipline, Dominance-Submission and Sadomasochism (BDSM) From an Integrative Biopsychosocial Perspective: A Systematic Review. (June 2019). The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

The Orgasm Gap: Simple Truth & Sexual Solutions. (October 2015). Psychology Today.

The Rough Stuff: Understanding Aggressive Consensual Sex. (April 2019). Evolutionary Psychological Science. 

FAQs & Sex Information. Kinsey Institute. 

Accidental Rips and Tears Can Happen During Sex — Here's How to Deal. (June 2020). Healthline.

Is It Safe to Have Rough Sex While Pregnant? Experts Say To Keep These 8 Things In Mind. (February 2017). Romper.

Why Aftercare Is The BDSM Practice That Everyone Should Be Doing. (April 2017). Refinery29.

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