Current Sexual Health Reports

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 104–108 | Cite as

Health Disparities Among Kinky Sex Practitioners

  • Richard Sprott
  • Anna Randall
Current Controversies (P Kleinplatz and C Moser, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Current Controversies


Purpose of review

This review is to characterize the theoretical and empirical literature about alternative sexual behaviors, predominantly known under the umbrella of bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism (BDSM, also known as “kink”). The overview is to aid the clinician in understanding how particular studies might fit into the larger context of the scholarly and empirical literature in order to judge the generalizability of conclusions. The specific concern of whether there are health disparities for this stigmatized sexuality is considered and explored.

Recent findings

The literature contains a wide range of positions and perspectives, ranging from always pathologizing BDSM behavior to proposing therapeutic functions of BDSM behavior. There are significant differences across professions in treatment of BDSM, and the medical literature is noted for being disorganized and piecemeal and starting to change over the past 5 years in ways that addresses the earlier problematic approaches that may have hindered clinical practice.


Empirical evidence suggests significant stigma impacting the health of BDSM-identified patients and impacting the healthcare service provided to kinky sex practitioners. The empirical and scholarly literature about BDSM or kink demonstrates a trend that addresses the stigma of alternative sexualities, but more work is needed.


BDSM Health disparities Mental health Sexual minority 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All reported studies/experiments with human or animal subjects performed by the authors have been previously published and complied with all applicable ethical standards (including the Helsinki declaration and its amendments, institutional/national research committee standards, and international/national/institutional guidelines).


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Women’s StudiesCalifornia State UniversityHaywardUSA
  2. 2.The Alternative Sexualities Health Research Alliance (TASHRA)San FranciscoUSA

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