Erotic electrostimulation

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An erotic electrostimulation power source and electrode E-stim.jpg
An erotic electrostimulation power source and electrode

Erotic electrostimulation (abbreviated erotic e-stim [1] and also known as electrosex) is a sexual practice involving the application of electrical stimulation to the nerves of the body, with particular emphasis on the genitals, using a power source (such as a TENS, EMS, violet wands, or made-for-play units) for purposes of sexual stimulation. Electrostimulation has been associated with BDSM activities, and erotic electrostimulation is an evolution of that practice.



Electrostimulation, in general, can cause tissue damage or even death if misused. [2] The most common problems arising from electrostimulation tend to be burns from lack of sufficiently wide surface contact, i.e. bad contact, between the electrode and the skin's surface. [3] Even at relatively low current and voltage, there is also risk of interference with normal heart function (potentially including cardiac arrest), and this risk is higher for those who use an artificial pacemaker or similar device or who have heart conditions. [3] Because of this, it is not advisable to place the electrical contacts in such a way that current passes through the chest cavity. [4]

The international standard on the basic safety of medical nerve and muscle stimulators advises "that stimulation should not be applied across or through the head, directly on the eyes, covering the mouth, on the front of the neck, (especially the carotid sinus), or from electrodes placed on the chest and the upper back or crossing over the heart". [5] The standard also notes that "any electrodes that have current densities exceeding 2 mA/cm² may require the special attention of the operator". It imposes the following limits on the output parameters of stimulators (for therapeutic purposes):

Erotic electrostimulation devices should avoid DC currents entirely, in order to avoid electrolytic effects. This is usually achieved through “biphasic” waveforms, in which each positive current pulse is followed by an equivalent negative current pulse. Devices with multiple channels (e.g. for several users or body regions) should have a small pulse isolation transformer for galvanic isolation in each channel, such that currents cannot flow across the body between channels. Pulse frequency, duration and amplitude should be selected to achieve the desired stimulation with the least amount of power delivered into the body, for example avoiding current during the refractory period after each action potential, where neurons do not respond to stimuli. Typical erotic electrostimulation devices use pulse frequencies in the range 300–3000 Hz, where skin nerves are most sensitive.

A few cases of accidental death as a result of autoerotic electrostimulation have been reported in the forensic science literature; the cases reported involved mains-powered, self-made devices, with current passing through the chest intentionally (usually via nipple stimulation) or unintentionally (for instance, touching an energized part with a hand). [6] In one case reported in the press, a man from York, Pennsylvania was sentenced to 20–40 years in prison for third-degree murder and reckless endangerment after killing his wife with electrostimulation to her nipples directly from a power strip plugged into the mains. [7] [8] [9]


An assortment of erotic use insertable Violet Wand attachments known as electrodes. The tempered and evacuated glass tubes are back-filled with noble gas, causing them to emit sparks and glow with various colors when the violet wand is powered. Violet-wand-internal-electrodes.png
An assortment of erotic use insertable Violet Wand attachments known as electrodes. The tempered and evacuated glass tubes are back-filled with noble gas, causing them to emit sparks and glow with various colors when the violet wand is powered.

The use of electricity for entertainment purposes dates back at least as early as the 1740s. In the 1830s, insertable electrode attachments for small magnetos could be purchased. Later in the 1800s, various electric belts (some complete with "suspensory sack") were advertised as cures for impotence. [10] In the 1920s, the American Medical Association investigated such devices, and concluded that they provided "more or less mechanical masturbation". [11]

Modern[ clarification needed ] electrostimulation first became recognized during the 1950s with the introduction of a device called the Relax-A-Cizor ,[ citation needed ] which was originally designed to stimulate the muscles of a relaxing subject using electric currents as a means of "passive exercise". Such power sources[ dubious ] are still in medical use today and are known as EMS (electrical muscle stimulation) units. Some people soon found alternative uses for the Relax-A-Cizors by placing the contacts on sexual parts of the body.

By the 1970s, medical TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) units were also being used for electrostimulation. In the 1980s the first devices manufactured specifically for erotic electrostimulation became available, in particular the Titillator and the Pleasure Box, later known as the PES Power Box.

In the 1970s, experimenters noticed that bare speaker wires could deliver a jolt and began using recorded and live sound for electrostimulation. At that time, there were no professionally made attachments for such play, so people built their own out of copper plumbing parts and other metal pieces with attention to resistors placed in series with the human parts to control the current for safety. Although early e-stim units used only a simple, pulsed, sinusoidal wave, newer units use more complex wave forms and also allow for the use of ambient sound or prerecorded wave forms like music or specially designed computer files for specific types of stimulation. There are now sites dedicated to the creation of MP3 files specifically for erotic journeys or symphonies, which can include such routines as rewards, punishments, very strong, and pleasantly soft portions.

Types of power sources

Medical power sources

There are repackaged TENS and EMS units marketed as erotic electrostimulation power sources. EMS units are designed to cause muscle contraction.

Body toning and massage units

An increasing number of "body toner" or "electromassage"-type power sources are being marketed directly to consumers. Though lacking in options compared to the more expensive specialized units, these have proven to be an inexpensive method for entry level practice.

Homemade power sources

Some people craft "homemade" electrostimulation power sources, or adapt or modify commercial products (such as a Hifi or DVD system) that were never intended for electrostimulation of the human body. These can be dangerous practices; such improvised devices not specifically designed for use on the human body can easily cause injury. [3] The risk is mostly twofold. First the device can supply too much power. Second the insulation of most devices is not suited for medical equipment. For example, a transient over-voltage on the mains input can damage the isolation of the transformer, resulting in the output terminals becoming live.

Erotic electrostimulation power sources

Erotic electrostimulation power sources are specifically designed and manufactured for erotic use on the human body. The first analog devices became popular during the mid-1980s, and during the late 1990s digital devices also became available. Both types usually allow for adjustments of frequency and power output levels, some with complex preset "programs" and computer controls. The setups usually consist of a "box" and electrodes connected by wiring. Many of the boxes are portable and can be powered by batteries or come with built-in rechargeable batteries. Some units can be connected to remote operators via an Internet-connected computer or controlled via radio frequency key fobs. Units which can be powered by a 9 volt battery are preferable to those plugged into mains as they reduce the risk of accidental injury. [3]

Other methods

There are other medical methods that have led to patent filings, such as the discovery that placing electrodes in the spinal cord can induce pleasurable feelings leading to orgasm. [12] There are also various apparatuses, with external or internal stimulation.

Other kinds of apparatus use interferential currents with four surface electrodes to replace the internal electrodes.


An electrode is used to deliver the actual electrostimulation to the body.

Example of woman with electrode on the chest. This is not recommended due to the risk of cardiac arrhythmia. Electroplay girl with electrode.jpg
Example of woman with electrode on the chest. This is not recommended due to the risk of cardiac arrhythmia.

The image of the woman receiving electrostimulation shows a deprecated practice. Placing electrodes anywhere on the chest is risking current passing through the heart, which risks cardiac arrhythmia or arrest. The general rule for electrostimulation is 'only below the waist'. [3]

For erotic electrostimulation, these are typically items designed to be applied to the genitals such as vaginal plugs and shields, anal plugs, probes to directly stimulate the prostate, testicle rings, CBT boards, cock rings, urethral probes, and other items for penile application. The pads used with TENS units are also used in the sexual application of electrostimulation. There are also electrified nipple and breast electrodes available, but while there is disagreement within the e-stim community about their safety the most commonly held consensus is 'only below the waist'. [3]

The electrodes can be made of metals such as gold, silver, aluminum, and stainless steel. There are also electrodes made out of conductive silicone. Conductive rubber is a cheap, flexible and efficient option.

Violet wands

Erotec Violet Wand, from 2000 Erotec-violet-wand.png
Erotec Violet Wand, from 2000

Violet wands were originally electric and neon testers, but are now split into two types: mechanical (Tesla Coil), and solid-state wands. They are used for the application of low current, high voltage (min 35 kV to max 65 kV typically), high-frequency electricity to the body, as such they are most commonly used in BDSM for erotic sensation play. Violet wands can deliver a variety of sharp, cutting, or piercing type sensations.

A violet wand typically consists of a hand-held "wand" made of plastic case which encases the mechanical (Tesla coil) or solid state components; a power cable, a collet (7/16" in the United States, 11 mm in Europe), and a cone. The collet is inside the cone end of the violet wand and is where glass and metal probes are inserted to be used with the wand. The cone is there to prevent sparks jumping from the collet directly to subject. Violet wands can be used anywhere on the body but should not be used around the eyes. [2]


Electroconductive gels play an important role in the success of erotic electrostimulation since without it, there is a greater risk of high-current skin burning. Water-based lubricants are generally recommended. Typically it is recommended to avoid any lubricant that contains silicone since it is an insulator and hence reduces conductivity. Practitioners of electrostimulation select lubricants for compatibility with the material of the electrodes, as well as for desirable conductive properties, which can maximize the strength and quality of the signal. [3]

See also

Related Research Articles

Tesla coil Electrical resonant transformer circuit invented by Nikola Tesla

A Tesla coil is an electrical resonant transformer circuit designed by inventor Nikola Tesla in 1891. It is used to produce high-voltage, low-current, high frequency alternating-current electricity. Tesla experimented with a number of different configurations consisting of two, or sometimes three, coupled resonant electric circuits.

Artificial cardiac pacemaker

A cardiac pacemaker, is a medical device that generates electrical impulses delivered by electrodes to cause the heart muscle chambers to contract and therefore pump blood; by doing so this device replaces and/or regulates the function of the electrical conduction system of the heart.

Electrical injury Physiological reaction or injury caused by electric current

Electrical injury is a physiological reaction caused by electric current passing through the body. The injury depends on the density of the current, tissue resistance and duration of contact. Very small currents may be imperceptible or produce a light tingling sensation. A shock caused by low and otherwise harmless current could startle an individual and cause injury due to jerking away or falling. Stronger currents may cause some degree of discomfort or pain, while more intense currents may induce involuntary muscle contractions, preventing the person from breaking free of the source of electricity. Still larger currents result in tissue damage and may trigger ventricular fibrillation or cardiac arrest. Injuries from exposure to electricity may also include amputations, fractures and orthopedic and musculoskeletal injuries. If death results from an electric shock the cause of death is generally referred to as electrocution.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is the use of electric current produced by a device to stimulate the nerves for therapeutic purposes. TENS, by definition, covers the complete range of transcutaneously applied currents used for nerve excitation although the term is often used with a more restrictive intent, namely to describe the kind of pulses produced by portable stimulators used to reduce pain. The unit is usually connected to the skin using two or more electrodes which are typically conductive gel pads. A typical battery-operated TENS unit is able to modulate pulse width, frequency and intensity. Generally TENS is applied at high frequency (>50 Hz) with an intensity below motor contraction or low frequency (<10 Hz) with an intensity that produces motor contraction. While the use of TENS has proved effective in clinical studies, there is controversy over which conditions the device should be used to treat.

Diathermy is electrically induced heat or the use of high-frequency electromagnetic currents as a form of physical therapy and in surgical procedures. The earliest observations on the reactions of high-frequency electromagnetic currents upon the human organism were made by Jacques Arsene d'Arsonval. The field was pioneered in 1907 by German physician Karl Franz Nagelschmidt, who coined the term diathermy from the Greek words dia and θέρμη therma, literally meaning "heating through".

Functional electrical stimulation Technique that uses low-energy electrical pulses

Functional electrical stimulation (FES) is a technique that uses low-energy electrical pulses to artificially generate body movements in individuals who have been paralyzed due to injury to the central nervous system. More specifically, FES can be used to generate muscle contraction in otherwise paralyzed limbs to produce functions such as grasping, walking, bladder voiding and standing. This technology was originally used to develop neuroprostheses that were implemented to permanently substitute impaired functions in individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI), head injury, stroke and other neurological disorders. In other words, a person would use the device each time he or she wanted to generate a desired function. FES is sometimes also referred to as neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES).

Electromyography Electrodiagnostic medicine technique for evaluating and recording the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles

Electromyography (EMG) is an electrodiagnostic medicine technique for evaluating and recording the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles. EMG is performed using an instrument called an electromyograph to produce a record called an electromyogram. An electromyograph detects the electric potential generated by muscle cells when these cells are electrically or neurologically activated. The signals can be analyzed to detect medical abnormalities, activation level, or recruitment order, or to analyze the biomechanics of human or animal movement. In Computer Science, EMG is also used as middleware in gesture recognition towards allowing the input of physical action to a computer as a form of human-computer interaction.

Oudin coil

An Oudin coil, also called an Oudin oscillator or Oudin resonator, is a resonant transformer circuit that generates very high voltage, high frequency alternating current (AC) electricity at low current levels, used in the obsolete medical field of electrotherapy around the turn of the 20th century. It is very similar to the earlier Tesla coil, patented in 1891, with the difference being that the Oudin coil was connected as an autotransformer. It was invented in 1893 by French physician Paul Marie Oudin as a modification of physician Jacques Arsene d'Arsonval's electrotherapy equipment and used in quack medicine until perhaps 1930. The high voltage output terminal of the coil was connected to an insulated handheld electrode which produced luminous brush discharges, which were applied to the patient's body to treat various medical conditions in electrotherapy.

Neuroprosthetics is a discipline related to neuroscience and biomedical engineering concerned with developing neural prostheses. They are sometimes contrasted with a brain–computer interface, which connects the brain to a computer rather than a device meant to replace missing biological functionality.

Bioelectromagnetics, also known as bioelectromagnetism, is the study of the interaction between electromagnetic fields and biological entities. Areas of study include electromagnetic fields produced by living cells, tissues or organisms, the effects of man-made sources of electromagnetic fields like mobile phones, and the application of electromagnetic radiation toward therapies for the treatment of various conditions.


Electrosurgery is the application of a high-frequency alternating polarity, electrical current to biological tissue as a means to cut, coagulate, desiccate, or fulgurate tissue.. Its benefits include the ability to make precise cuts with limited blood loss. Electrosurgical devices are frequently used during surgical operations helping to prevent blood loss in hospital operating rooms or in outpatient procedures.

Electrical muscle stimulation Use of electricity to involuntarily contract muscle

Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS), also known as neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) or electromyostimulation, is the elicitation of muscle contraction using electric impulses. EMS has received an increasing amount of attention in the last few years for many reasons: it can be utilized as a strength training tool for healthy subjects and athletes; it could be used as a rehabilitation and preventive tool for partially or totally immobilized patients; it could be utilized as a testing tool for evaluating the neural and/or muscular function in vivo; it could be used as a post-exercise recovery tool for athletes. The impulses are generated by a device and are delivered through electrodes on the skin near to the muscles being stimulated. The electrodes are generally pads that adhere to the skin. The impulses mimic the action potential that comes from the central nervous system, causing the muscles to contract. The use of EMS has been cited by sports scientists as a complementary technique for sports training, and published research is available on the results obtained. In the United States, EMS devices are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Sacral nerve stimulation, also termed sacral neuromodulation, is a type of medical electrical stimulation therapy.

Electroanalgesia is a form of analgesia, or pain relief, that uses electricity to ease pain. Electrical devices can be internal or external, at the site of pain (local) or delocalized throughout the whole body. It works by interfering with the electric currents of pain signals, inhibiting them from reaching the brain and inducing a response; different from traditional analgesics, such as opiates which mimic natural endorphins and NSAIDs that help relieve inflammation and stop pain at the source. Electroanalgesia has a lower addictive potential and poses less health threats to the general public, but can cause serious health problems, even death, in people with other electrical devices such as pacemakers or internal hearing aids, or with heart problems.

Neurostimulation is the purposeful modulation of the nervous system's activity using invasive or non-invasive means. Neurostimulation usually refers to the electromagnetic approaches to neuromodulation.


Veinoplus is a class IIa medical device with CE marking. It is indicated for the treatment of vascular diseases. This is a neuromuscular stimulator developed by an American scientist, Jozef Cywinski.

Electrotherapy (cosmetic)

Cosmetic electrotherapy is a range of beauty treatments that uses low electric currents passed through the skin to produce several therapeutic effects such as muscle toning in the body and micro-lifting of the face. It is based on electrotherapy, which has been researched and accepted in the field of rehabilitation, though the "scientific and medical communities have tended to sideline or dismiss the use of electrotherapy for healthy muscles".

EndoStim Electrical Stimulation Therapy is a form of anti-reflux surgery, intended to assist in correcting a problem with the muscles at the bottom of the esophagus. Problems with these muscles allow gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) to happen. The procedure was developed by Endostim, based in St. Louis, Missouri, and Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Mystim is a German manufacturer of sex toys. Its main focus is a range of toys and devices for erotic electrostimulation complemented by non-e-stim toys such as vibrators, dildos or cock rings. The company is based in Mömbris and distributes worldwide.

Bioelectromagnetic medicine deals with the phenomenon of resonance signaling and discusses how specific frequencies modulate cellular function to restore or maintain health. Such electromagnetic (EM) signals are then called "medical information" that is used in health informatics.


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