Getting off from the cold is one part of temperature play. “Using ice sexually is a form of erotic temperature play,” says board certified sexologist Lanae St. John, DHS. Temperature play, she adds, is the pre-negotiated and consensual use of hot and cold senses in your sexual activities for pleasure. It’s a way to stimulate your brain and body differently, she says, and it puts your nerves on high alert. What might that look like? Temperature play with heat could involve dripping warm wax from a massage candle on the body, while cold temperature play looks like using ice to stimulate (more on that below).
Why does ice feel so satisfying during sex?
Physiologically, cold constricts blood flow, which is an essential component of arousal, which may lead you to think cold sensations are an instantaneous mood-killer. In reality, though, they can dial up the situational heat quite a bit, says sex educator and sex-toy reviewer Indigo Wolfe. “The contrast of the cold on your hot body in a warm room floods the body with a rush of sensations that can be incredibly stimulating," they say.
"The contrast of the cold on your hot body in a warm room floods the body with a rush of sensations that can be incredibly stimulating."—Indigo Wolfe, sex educator and sex-toy reviewer
Ice is safe to play with during sex, but there are a couple safety things to keep in mind. First off, be sure to err on the side of slow to start, given that different people have different sensitivities and varying thresholds for handling coldness. To keep things fun rather than shockingly frigid, Dr. St. John has a rule to follow: “If it’s too cold to hold in your hand, it’s going to be too cold for genitals and sensitive bits.” A little ice goes a long way, too—start off with just several cubes and check in with yourself or your partner to make sure their skin isn’t too sensitive to the cold as you play. Because temperature play involves heightened sensations that can feel like too much after a certain point, it's important to listen to everyone involved to pull it back if necessary and stop just as you would when trying out anything new in the bedroom.
If you’ve ever had an ice cube stick to your hand while fixing a cold drink or smoothie, you might know that ice can adhere itself to the skin and be tough and painful to pull off— sex and relationship educator Tara Suwinyattichaiporn, PhD (who goes by Dr. Tara), professor of relational and sexual communication at California State University Fullerton and host of the Luvbites by Dr. Tara podcast says to not put an ice cube directly on sensitive and moist tissue, like a penis, clitoris, or labia, unless the area has been lubricated with either lube or water beforehand. You can also dip the ice cube in water to give it a slicker, less sticky surface.
With all that said, using ice to turn up the heat in your sexual exploration is well worth trying. Intrigued? If so, you're going to want to check out seven tips from sexperts for using ice as a form of temperature play.
7 ways to turn up the heat during your sexual exploration with ice and temperature play
1. Icy kiss
Set a cup of ice on your bedside table, and when your partner is watching, fish out a piece with your fingers. Lock eyes with them, then run your tongue back and forth over the cube, as a way to showcase your tongue skills. Then? Place what's left of the cube between your lips, and kiss your partner. “The stark contrast of the cold ice and your hot mouths will send shivers down your spine and a jolt to your system,” says Dr. St. John.
2. Let the ice drip
Another method is to use the water that drips from melting ice cubes to tease your partner's erogenous zones, like the lower back, armpits, neck, breast and chest, and inner thighs, says Dr. St. John. Need a new masturbation idea? You can drip ice onto yourself, too. “If your partner likes to be blindfolded, you can make it even more exciting by putting one over their eyes, so they won’t know where the droplet will land next,” she says.
Another way to use ice to tease yourself or your partner? Dr. Tara says you can use ice in a sexual power play scenario; you or your partner has to wait for the ice to melt to orgasm. One partner can also drip the ice down the other person's body, and they can't react until it's totally melted. You might try placing an ice cube on your vulva while your partner pleasures you so they have to melt it with their tongue.
3. Go down, to the south pole
There are a few ways to put this tip into action, but putting ice in your hand, and then bringing it down to your partner's bits is a great place to start. The cold chill from the ice will feel new and novel, and can lead to some hot sexual sparks.
However, be sure to use lube to avoid any safety mishaps. “If the body is not lubricated, and the ice is right out of the freezer, it could get stuck,” says Wolfe. To make sure you don't end up feeling like Flick from The Christmas Story when he gets his tongue stuck to a flagpole, apply lube to your partner's genital region, and let the ice start to melt in your hand before applying it to the body. “The more liquid down there, the less likely it will be to get stuck,” they add.
4. Lick (popsicle-style)
“If your partner has a vulva, place an ice cube under your tongue or on the roof of your mouth, and then lick them,” says Wolfe, who adds that doing the same for a partner who has a penis can be tough to accomplish "because that’s a lot going on in your mouth.” Their recommendation for this situation? Either lather your hand in lube and stroke the shaft while licking the tip of the penis with an ice cube in your mouth, or do the opposite by placing a (smooth-edged) ice cube in your hand to use while you stroke.
Alternatively, you can tease your partner (or yourself while masturbating) by rubbing ice along your body and letting it melt off or licking it off. The anticipation and temperature change are sure to generate some heat.
5. Down and back, or "rim-skating"
According to Dr. Tara, ice can bring a thrilling chill to anal play, too. “The ice constricts and numbs the area a little bit, so it’s a fun way for people who enjoy anal to play,” she says.
Since Wolfe says there isn't much research available regarding ice insertion to the anus for butt play, they suggest avoiding inserting it directly and instead only using ice around the entrance point. Some strategies for this include putting ice in your mouth before performing anilingus and placing an ice chip under your fingertips before rubbing in circles.
6. Use ice on the areola and nipples
Think about how your cold weather makes nipples more harder and more sensitive—now bring that into the bedroom. Temperature play is just one fun way of playing with boobs. Dr. Tara recommends using ice to stimulate the areola and nipples.
“It can help the nipples get harder and more aroused, and it can feel pleasurable for anyone,” she says. To do this, either gently move an ice cube in circles around your own or your partner’s areola. You could also suck on ice and then lick, kiss, or suck the nipples to impart that cold sensation.
7. Use a sex toy that won't melt and is designed for temperature play
Once you know you enjoy the cool side of things, why not invest in a sex toy made for temperature play? There are a number of freezer-friendly frozen sex toys that are built to help you explore your iciest fantasies. But not every toy is meant for this, so be sure to check for specific materials. “High quality surgical stainless steel and medical-grade Pyrex glass are two materials that retain temperature for long periods of time,” says Dr. St. John. And unlike ice, neither turn to water.
The nJoy Pure Wand is one of the best stainless steel options on the market, she says. Since it's eight inches long and curved, the toy is great for G-spot and P-spot (that’s prostate) stimulation, massage, and firm external touches. “Simply dip it in some ice cold water for a bit, until it's cold to the touch, and then enjoy,” she says.
Glass sex toys offer the ability to see through them, so you can really watch what's happening, but if you opt for this choice, “you’ll have to do a little more research and make sure it’s made of Pyrex [which is pretty shatter-resistant]," says Dr. St. John. Personally, I’m a fan of this Twisted Love Glass Dildo by Adam & Eve.
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