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Algophily is a desire to experience pain for sexual gratification. Members of the BDSM community who identify as masochists are driven by algophily. You could also say that anyone driven by algophily, whether a member of the BDSM community or not, is an algophile.
The term is a combination of the words algo, meaning pain, and phily, from the Ancient Greek word for love, philia.
Algophily is sometimes called algophilia.
While algophily is considered a kink outside the sexual norm, it’s one that’s easily understood. The body releases endorphins when it experiences pain, which are similar to the drug morphine. In addition, the body also releases the bliss chemical anandamide, which binds with cannabinoid receptors to block pain signals and create the kind of buzz you feel when ingesting cannabis. These chemicals mean some people experience a kind of high when they are hurt, which can be very arousing. Pain also releases adrenalin which elevates the heart rate and makes us feel excited. The brain’s pain pathways and orgasm pathways are also very similar, which could explain why pain can be arousing for many people.
While the link between sexual pleasure and pain is easily explained, many people are aware that their desire for pain as part of a sexual experience is outside the norm. This can lead people who enjoy pain during sex to feel shameful or embarrassed about their kink.
The pain people with algophily crave varies from person to person. Some people enjoy light pain, like spanking, while others crave more intense pain, like having their bodies cut.
People who enjoy pain in sexual experiences will ideally find partners who are happy to inflict pain on them. However, algophiles should proceed with caution. They must find partners they implicitly trust to ensure they’re not taken advantage of or hurt in a long-lasting way. Communication is vital to decide what kind of pain is exciting and what kind of pain is a turn-off. A safe word and safe signal should be agreed upon so that the algophile can end the experience if it becomes too intense. The person inflicting pain should also take care to ensure they do not cause permanent damage.