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Erotic electrostimulation (abbreviated e-stim and also known as electrosex) is a human 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 wand, 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. Erotic electrostimulation is the use of electrostimulation in an erotic or sexual manner versus the more sadistic or painful applications in BDSM.
Electrostimulation, in general, can cause tissue damage or even death if misused. The most common problems arising from electrostimulation tend to be burns from lack of lubrication or bad contact between the electrode and the skin's surface. 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. Because of this, it is not advisable to place the electrical contacts in such a way that current passes through the chest cavity. Newcomers are encouraged to research the hazards, limitations, and techniques of electrostimulation and the devices used.
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. In the 1920s, the American Medical Association investigated such devices, and concluded that they provided "more or less mechanical masturbation".
Modern[clarification needed] electrostimulation first became recognized during the 1950s with the introduction of a device called the Relaxacisor, 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 Relaxacisors 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.
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.
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. 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 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.
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. 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.
The image of the woman receiving electrostimulation to the right shows a not recommended 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'.
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'.
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.
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Lubrication plays an important role in the success of erotic electrostimulation since without it, there is a greater risk of high-frequency epidermal burning. Water-based lubricants are generally recommended, although olive oil is popular because it does not dry out as water-based lubricants can. 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.
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