Exploring the World of Subspace

No, we’re not talking about the space-time continuum here, or going faster than the speed of light. We’re taking a look at the strange and wonderful psychological state encountered by a submissive when they indulge in some pretty intense BDSM play.

Isn’t subspace all about orgasms?

No. Subspace is often confused with being extremely aroused or in a pre-orgasmic state, but that isn’t the case. The truth of the matter is that you can’t actually have an orgasm whilst in subspace. You either have an orgasm, or you enter subspace – you can’t do both at the same time.

The physiological process that leads to subspace

A submissive may find she enters subspace after a particularly demanding BDSM scene, featuring both pain and pleasure. Her body will be full of hormones, such as epinephrine, endorphins and enkephalins, and these help to increase her pain tolerance. This is called the ‘sympathetic nervous system response.’ These chemicals can have the same effect as morphine, and if there are enough of them floating around her body, she may enter a trance-like state, and this is what is referred to as ‘subspace.’

What does it feel like?

When the overload of hormones hits a female submissive’s bloodstream, she’s likely to lose sensation, feel like she’s having an out-of-body experience, and she may find the world slowing down all around her. She may also feel exhausted, and unable to speak. Some describe it as a floating or detached feeling, where they lose all sense of the world around them, and can only focus on their partner or dominant. A submissive will often lose all sensation of pain as they reach subspace, and continuing play will cause the duration of their trance-like state to lengthen.

What can trigger subspace?

Subspace is usually entered after intense forms of BDSM play and these can involve:

  • Edge Play – such as impact play, temperature play, wax play etc.
  • Psychological Play – such as humiliation or interrogation play
  • Bondage and Mummification – where the submissive is tightly restrained

Is subspace the same for males and females?

No. There are vast differences between the physiological aspects of the male and female body, and male subspace tends to be a very quick affair. This is usually because male ejaculation halts most biochemical activity that would lead to longer periods of subspace. Women, on the other hand, can find themselves in subspace for hours or even days, in some cases.

The dangers of subspace

Care needs to be taken when a submissive reaches subspace. She won’t be in full control of her body, and if pain play continues it is possible to put her in a life-threatening situation. Someone under the influence of subspace, can be likened to being intoxicated. They have difficulty forming rational thoughts and their reflexes are slow and sluggish.

‘Sub drop’ can also happen when a submissive comes out of subspace. As the body begins to function normally again, it will feel the loss of all those happy hormones, and this may lead to an overload of emotion, tearfulness, headaches disorientation, shaking, and other symptoms that could be confused with depression. Unlike depression, however, the symptoms usually disappear within a few hours or so.

Subspace aftercare

After the exertion of a BDSM scene, a submissive is likely to find her body temperature dropping sharply, so cover her with a robe or blanket as soon as possible. As she’ll probably be exhausted, you’ll want to find her somewhere comfy to sit or lie down, too. It is also a good idea to have some water or a sports drink on hand, as this will help replace lost fluids. Similarly, a small bite to eat will help her on the road to recovery and a couple of squares of chocolate can go a long way as a mood booster.

Emotionally, she may be feeling a little lost or insecure, so having someone to talk to and be there for her is important. As it can take a few hours to come down from subspace, she shouldn’t be expected to drive and it’s a good idea to monitor her until she begins to feel normal once again.
-Christina Mandara

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