Fluids are a by-product of intimacy, not inherently intimate in and of themselves (Picture: Getty/iStockphoto/Science Photo Libra)
A concept as old as time has a new buzzword attached – but whether you call it fluid bonding or unprotected sex, it still carries risks.
Touted as a way to boost the emotional connection in a relationship, the idea is that people swap their fluids with the express intention of enhancing the intimacy between them and their partner, be it via saliva, semen, vaginal fluid, or even blood.
However, most often, the swapping happens during unprotected sex, despite the fact that there’s nothing inherently less intimate about having safe sex.
While, fluids aside, many see stopping the use of barrier contraception as a very serious step towards commitment, remember there are dangers associated with having unprotected sex – regardless of why you’re doing it.
Dr Katherine Hertlein, sex therapist at Blueheart, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘While all sexual activity comes with risks, it’s important to know that riskier sex techniques may not equate to enhanced pleasure or intimacy.
‘Additionally, sharing bodily fluids doesn’t necessarily create an enhanced sexual or romantic bond, as other factors are also at play in order to establish intimacy, such as effective communication, honesty and trust.’
So what exactly are the issues thrown up by fluid bonding?
Firstly, unprotected sex carries with it an increased chance of catching STIs, so if someone wanted to do it, they and their partner would need to have a serious chat about sexual health.
Dr Katherine explains: ‘You need to be able to know that both you and your partner’s recent sexual history will not put either of your health at risk.
‘Make sure both you and your partner undergo an STI screening before engaging in this activity, rather than taking each other’s word that you’re not carrying an STI.’
If someone wants to fluid bond via penis-in-vagina sex, there’s also a danger of pregnancy, so they’d need to make sure they’ve got an alternative contraceptive method figured out if procreating isn’t on the agenda.
Dr Katherine says: ‘Other options can include the contraceptive pill, an intrauterine device (IUD) otherwise commonly known as “the coil”, or the contraceptive implant, but make sure you both have an understanding of the effectiveness and associated risks of these methods.’
She also highlights that the pull-out method isn’t a strong option.
Centring the swapping of fluids in discussions about intimacy can be problematic (Picture: Getty Images)
Plenty of people in established, trusting relationships choose to forgo barrier contraceptive methods quite happily, but there are some who could use the idea of fluid bonding to manipulate their partners.
‘Not all unprotected sex is considered fluid bonding,’ warns Dr Katherine.
‘Some partners may even use this technique as an opportunity to manipulate others into having unsafe sex, by assuring them that sex would feel much better and enhance the connection between one another.
‘Couples who engage in fluid bonding characterise it as an emotional act of trust which requires a mutual understanding and conversation between both partners before participating in this activity.
‘If you want to explore fluid bonding, it’s important to communicate your intentions clearly with your sexual partner in order to establish consent between all involved. Set boundaries for participation so that both of you feel at ease during this activity.’
If you want to boost the emotional connection between yourself and your partner(s), there are plenty of other intimate things you can do that don’t involve assigning so much importance to the swapping of your body’s liquids.
Dr Katherine recommends things like open communication, taking your time during sex, and establishing trust between each other.
She tells us: ‘Exploring new things can help you find out what works for you and your partner, and create a deeper understanding of each other’s bodies’, adding that we should ‘move away from making sex a goal-oriented experience.’
‘Not only will this relieve pressures on yourself and your partner, but it’s also a chance to learn what you find sensual.
‘Think of it as a blank slate and a chance to explore what you enjoy without the time pressure or end goal.
‘You don’t have to orgasm; just see what feels good and what induces desire. This could include focusing on kissing and stroking your partner, just sticking to oral sex, or having your partner focus on a certain spot.’
She also recommends something called The Sensate Focus technique, which involves paying mindful attention to touch.
‘Start by touching your partner’s body, avoiding genitalia, with a focus on sensations such as texture, pressure, temperature,’ instructs Dr Katherine.
‘This technique can help clear your mind and push away any negative, intrusive thoughts that might occur during intimacy (including external worries such as wondering how you look naked or thinking about work).
‘This technique has been used as a sex therapy tool for many years and is one of the few proven techniques that can teach you and your partner to be more mindful of your intimate experiences.
‘By helping reduce anxiety associated with sexual situations, it can eventually help you achieve more pleasurable sexual experiences with each other.’
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