A Mark, Submission, a Brand, a Scar

I really like rough sex—being choked, smacked across the face, having nails dug into my body and being grabbed hard. I don’t mind bruising or marks left behind, but the problem is that it’s embarrassing when someone notices a bruise and asks what happened. Do you have any suggestions on ways to minimize the physical evidence of one’s sex life?
—Rough & Tumble

There isn’t really a fix-all solution to bruising after rough sex. Unfortunately, the easiest ways to cover these marks up are to have less rough sex or avoid pressure to areas you can’t cover up as easily, like your neck or arms.

The problem there is it’s pretty difficult to focus on the difference between roughly grabbing our partner’s arm versus their waist in the heat of the moment, or to expect you and your partner to hold back by not going as rough as you want to.

After the fact, you can minimize chances of bruising if you know you were particularly rough on a part of your body by applying ice to the area as soon as possible.

If you’re worried that you might bruise more easily than others, you can get a physical and blood test if your doctor sees a need—but there probably isn’t anything significant wrong with you if your only symptom is bruising easily.

It also depends on how badly you’re getting roughed up. From your question, I’m assuming this is a consensual, enjoyable situation for both partners and that any resulting physical harm is minor and mostly bruising. There are, however, some safety issues I like to bring up when discussing rough sex.

Make sure the acts you’re performing, or the intensity with which you’re performing them, won’t cause permanent physical damage, such as internal bleeding, and that you and your partner have a clearly defined safe word or motion if you’re being choked to ensure everything stays consensual throughout.

Regardless of what you agreed to beforehand, in a healthy sexual relationship, you should feel comfortable enough to end things at any point.

It’s also important to do your best to avoid potential infection. A good rule to remember is, “If you break the skin, there’s risk within!” This refers to the risk of infection (STIs and other) through skin openings, which can also result in longer healing times.

On another note, since starting this column, I’ve realized that more people are into rough sex than many people (myself included) would have assumed. I believe this assumption continues because people are embarrassed to talk about what gives them pleasure—despite the fact that talking about taboos and negative stigmas is how they get broken down.

Of course, there are many reasons why you might be embarrassed. Maybe your mom is the one asking, or maybe some people are even suspecting abuse. However, if people you would normally speak to about your sex life are asking, why not tell them the truth?

If you aren’t down with the bruises and would just feel better and less embarrassed if they were gone that’s also fine, but I’m under the impression that’s not the case for you.  

If you don’t mind the evidence it leaves behind, don’t minimize it for those in your life who can’t handle it—and think of those love marks as a little reminder of the awesome sex you had the other night, rather than a mark of shame.

—Melissa Fuller

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