Hematolagnia is an interest in using blood or blood-like images in sexual play.

For some, the intimate connection between blood and intercourse is sexually stirring. The smell, sight, and texture of blood may be arousing, too.

Depending on what element of blood play is most appealing, someone with this fetish might enjoy smearing blood across their partner’s body.

They may also enjoy using instruments, like knives and scalpels, to draw bits of blood to the skin. Some even like licking or drinking blood.

Despite the connection to cutting, not every person who enjoys blood play likes knife play.

Some just appreciate the blood itself, whether it’s fresh from an injury, fake blood, or even just substances that resemble blood, such as red wine.

Yes, period sex may be considered a form of blood play. Not everyone who likes period sex is necessarily into the broader blood fetish, but some are.

Some people who like period sex are turned on by the additional lubrication. Others like the increased sensitivity that occurs during this time of the month. Plus, orgasms during your period may relieve cramps.

Some like seeing blood all over themselves and their partner, too. The blood play aspect of sex during menstruation may not be the most intriguing part to people who enjoy it, but it certainly could be an element.

No, blood play doesn’t always involve cutting skin.

Period blood can also be enjoyable in blood play, and cutting isn’t required to obtain that blood.

Using fake blood or blood-like liquids doesn’t require cutting, either.

Although you can use any object capable of piercing or cutting through the skin, everyone has a different preference.

In some cases, the individual may be more interested in the object used to create the cut than in the blood itself.

For example, some individuals enjoy using surgical instruments. The extremely sharp blades allow for a precise cut. That can be part of the appeal for some people with this fetish.

Likewise, sharp knives are often used because of how easily and quickly they can draw blood. They’re less likely to hurt, too, because the blade is so honed and the cut so precise.

Yes, for some people it is, but not always. Knife play can be an entirely separate fetish. The blood play element may be secondary.

Some people enjoy the risk — and the subsequent thrill — of using knives during sexual play, regardless of whether blood is present or not.

This is also a matter of preference. Some people are turned on by blood around the genitals or on breasts.

For others, where the blood comes from isn’t of any particular interest, as long as there’s blood.

Of course, cutting or slicing into the skin can be dangerous. Vital blood vessels and arteries sit just millimeters below the skin’s surface.

Without proper training, you could open one of these vital vessels — creating an injury that could quickly become life-threatening.

For most people with this fetish, cutting another person is the sexually gratifying and thrilling element. This may be part of a power dynamic in which you have control of the situation and your partner.

However, people with this kink may also enjoy seeing their own skin give way. Placing trust in a partner and watching them carefully cut you to draw blood may be arousing.

Blood and sex are primal elements of human nature.

For some people, seeing blood or using blood during sex speaks to them on a deeply personal level.

For others, the blood’s red color is alluring. Red, which is commonly associated with love and lust, may draw feelings of passion and desire.

Some people who enjoy blood play are also part of the BDSM community. These individuals may like sexual play elements that have some masochistic elements. In other words, they find pleasure in pain.

People may also find that putting an incredible amount of trust in a partner — the one with a knife or sharp object — builds a deep and meaningful connection. This may help the relationship grow.

Yes, blood play is specifically a form of edgeplay.

Edgeplay is an umbrella term for a sexual behavior or kink that’s thought to be more dangerous than other BDSM acts.

These somewhat taboo fetishes bring partners to the brink, or the edge, of their comfort.

They can then explore these behaviors with their partners, deciding together what’s right and what’s too much.

It’s hard to say exactly how common blood play is. In the BDSM community, people with a blood fetish appear to be a small subgroup.

Take the popular forum Reddit, for example. On this site, the BDSM community numbers more than 143,000 people.

However, posts for people interested in “blood play” typically have less than a dozen comments. Some have even been blocked or removed by the company for violating rules against violence.

Blood play isn’t inherently safe. Any time you use sharp objects, you invite serious risks. The blood itself introduces a host of potential issues, too.

However, you can make adaptations to how you practice this fetish that can make it safer for you and your partner.

You can reduce the risk of infection and other complications by taking the following steps:

  • Seek out training. Many elements of blood play can be dangerous if you aren’t properly trained. Some BDSM communities offer hands-on training or instruction. You may even talk to a kink-positive therapist or healthcare professional that specializes in this area about this interest and how you can safely learn.
  • Get tested. Inevitably, you and your partner will share blood during blood play. Blood can carry many viral infections and diseases, so it’s important you and your partner know your status before engaging in this activity.
  • Sterilize cutting instruments. Boil or steam any instruments you plan to use. You can also purchase pre-sterilized, individually packaged scalpels or surgical blades from medical supply stores.
  • Clean cut sites. When you’ve selected a site to cut, you can clean the skin with an alcohol swab to reduce bacteria that could get into the wound once it’s open.
  • Draw from safer sites. Avoid the neck, groin, upper arms, joints, and armpits. These areas of the body are more prone to bleeding and fatal injury. The best or safest areas to cut include the forearms, thighs, back of leg, and buttocks. These “meatier” areas don’t have major veins or arteries.
  • Clean up cuts. After blood play is finished, be sure to carefully clean each cut with warm water and soap. Apply an antibacterial ointment, and cover the cut with a bandage to keep dirt and bacteria away. Replace the bandage daily until the cut is fully healed.

People who engage in edgeplay follow the tenets of risk-aware consensual kink (RACK).

In this agreement, partners recognize that their shared fetish may not be safe. However, they’re each aware of the risks and agree to take specific precautions.

Blood play can be risky for several reasons.

Having a knife around inherently increases the risk for accidental cuts or injuries.

Even when purposeful, cutting could be too deep. That could lead to heavy bleeding, which can be life-threatening.

The risk of infection is also high with cutting. Anytime the skin is opened, purposeful or not, bacteria can find its way in.

Blood also carries a number of infections and viruses.

Swapping blood increases your risk for contracting any illnesses your partner has, and vice versa.

That’s why it’s important for you and your partner to be tested before you engage in blood play.

With proper, current information, you can decide if there are additional safety measures you need to take.

You should avoid blood play if you take prescription blood thinners or have a clotting disorder.

You may consider using blood alternatives, like fake blood, if you want to try blood play.

People who are squeamish about blood or get sick at the site of blood should skip blood play, too. Even fake blood may be too much.

People who have a history of cutting or self-harm may also want to avoid blood play and knife play. These two fetishes could be triggering.

No, it doesn’t. In fact, this is one way to make blood play safer.

You can use fake blood, like the kind made for costumes or television and movie productions.

This blood will certainly look real, but it won’t require cutting. It also won’t put you at risk for sharing infections or illnesses.

You can also use liquids that just mimic the look, such as red wine, ketchup, strawberry sauce, even chocolate sauce. Let your imagination run wild.

Blood play appears to be an uncommon kink, but the BDSM community is likely to have a supportive group within its ranks.

After all, the purpose of many of these groups is to support exploration and experimentation among curious participants.

Start by reaching out to larger BDSM groups, via channels like FetLife and Reddit. Fetish-oriented dating site like Fetish.com can afford you opportunities to meet new people.