Fire & Ice: A How-To Guide To Temperature Sex Play

nails by Claire Beaudreault; styled by Claudia Ficca/Apostrophe; photographed by Eric Helgas; modeled by Susan Schell.
Temperature play might sound kind of intense, but working hot and cold into your sex life is actually pretty easy. All you need to get started is a bowl of ice or a glass of hot water. But why play with temperature at all? Besides the obviously sexy thought of rolling an ice cube around your lips and then down your partner's body, what does adding heat or cold to your sex life actually do? It's all about the psychology of it.
"When temperature play is negotiated and consented to, the brain starts preparing for a sexy and exciting experience, and basically puts nerve endings in the body — erogenous zones, but also everywhere else — on high alert for new sensations," says Dulcinea Pitagora, a sex therapist known as the Kink Doctor.
Of course, not everyone is going to be interested in temperature play. And if you're not into it, don't feel like you have to be, says Holly Richmond, PhD, a somatic psychologist and certified sex therapist (CST). Temperature play can be fun, but not wanting to play with ice or heat doesn't make you boring in bed. "My husband absolutely detests cold," Dr. Richmond says. So he wouldn't find it sexy if she pulled out a bowl full of ice, and that's totally fine.
If you are intrigued, using cold or heat can be a fun way to mix up your usual sex routine. Pro tip: Consider blindfolding the partner on the receiving end of the temperature play. Restricting their sense of sight can make the feelings of hot and cold more intense.
But like many kinks, temperature play can range from harmless to potentially dangerous. So if you're a beginner, start slowly. You don't want to dive in with the more edgy forms of temperature play like fire play or branding, Pitagora says. Instead, try the tips listed below.

More from Sex & Relationships

Watch

R29 Original Series