Electrify Your Orgasms: TENS Units for Beginners

Published: APRIL 3, 2014 | Updated: JUNE 16, 2022
While electrosex devices are sometimes used for BDSM pain play, they can also be an exciting, painless, and surprisingly safe way to bring yourself to mindblowing orgasm. And no, it won't hurt.

Curious about using electricity to get off? Afraid to try because you don’t want to fry your naughty bits? Have no fear! While electrosex devices are sometimes used for BDSM pain play, they can also be an exciting, painless, and surprisingly safe way to bring yourself to mind-blowing orgasm.


And no, it won't hurt. Often portrayed as complicated, tortuous devices, electrosex toys such as TENS units are actually quite simple to operate and offer an infinite palette of sensations. Their adjustability makes them versatile enough to use for pain play or gentle, erotic titillation.

There are generally two types of toys used for electric sex play, wands and TENS units. We’ll address TENS devices in this article. Check out Shock Your Sex Life: Electro Sex for Couples for information on Kinklab Neon Wands and violet wands.

Read: Electro Sex 101: Everything You Need to Know


What's a TENS Unit?

TENS is short for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, and it was invented for medical purposes in the 1970s. Typically, TENS units are prescribed to patients suffering from nerve and muscle pain to alleviate discomfort.

TENS units consist of two parts: a power box that houses the controls for the electrical current and a pair of electrode pads. The pads are designed to be placed on a muscular part of the body a few inches apart from each other. The current that passes back and forth between the pads is what helps relieve pain in that particular area.

So what does a TENS unit that have to do with your sex life? Well, humans are a curious bunch. It didn’t take too long for people to discover that putting those electrode pads on the genitals feels AHHH-MAZING.


Today, you can get frisky with medical TENS units or buy specialty TENS units made by sex toy companies. Plus, TENS units created for electroerotic pleasure offer all sorts of naughty electrode attachments like dildos, butt plugs, urethral sounds and penis sheaths.

The Mystim Tension Lover E-Stim Kit is a popular TENS unit

What Does Stimulation from a TENS Unit Feel Like?

Most people describe the feeling as a prickling, buzzing, stroking, throbbing, or rhythmic suckling. The sensation is similar to a vibrator, but with a much deeper reach. Imagine that your Hitachi Magic Wand could penetrate deep muscle tissue and access hidden nerve bundles an external vibrator could never reach. Now imagine that you could also set the frequency of its vibration from a constant, steady buzz to a slow, pulsing beat. That’s sort of what a TENS feels like.


On lower settings, the TENS feels intensely erotic. When turned up, pain enters the mix as the sensations turn into a biting pinch. For those who enjoy BDSM, this might be quite enjoyable. People who use TENS devices strictly for orgasmic pleasure generally keep the intensity settings low.

The insertable attachments can make the vagina or anus involuntarily contract and release just like they do during orgasm. Not only does this feel wonderful, but some women also use the vaginal attachments to assist with Kegel exercises.

OK. I'm Interested. What Kind of TENS Unit Should I Get?

If you have a medical TENS unit (or "electrotherapy machine") at home, it can be used for erotic purposes. While it won’t have insertable attachments, the electrode pads are often enough to satisfy most people. If you’re looking to buy an e-stim unit made just for sex, I recommend the Mystim brand for beginners. It’s inexpensive, made from durable medical-quality materials, and very easy to use. Mystim power boxes are also dual channel, meaning you can use two sets of electrodes at one time.


Most basic TENS units come with electrode pads, which are enough to get you started. For many, that’s all they’ll ever need. Dildo, butt-plug and penile attachments are sold separately and can be added at any time.

How Do I Use a TENS Unit to Orgasm?

Proper electrode pad placement is essential to get the most out of your TENS unit. If you get this right, it’s very possible to have strong, hands-free orgasms with electrode pads alone. You should experiment with TENS unit placement to see what feels best on your body. If you place the pads too far apart from each other, you may not feel anything.

Common electrode placement for penises is on the underside of the shaft, with one pad near the head of the penis and one at the base. Alternatively, for testicular enjoyment, place one pad on the top of the scrotum and the other on the bottom. For vaginas, a pad on either side of the clit or opposite sides of the vaginal opening can feel wonderful. A TENS pad on each side of the anus is also an option. Keep in mind, the jelly-like pad adhesive is very sticky and works best on smooth skin. It’s best to shave first if you’re working with a very hairy area.


Dildo and butt plug attachments are rather self explanatory. Simply insert them into the desired orifice and manipulate the controls to adjust how much pleasure or pain they deliver. Condoms cannot be used on insertables because they block the electrical current.

Are TENS Units Good for Partner Play?

TENS units are great for solo use because they are excellent for inducing hands-free orgasm. Nothing beats the sensation of using a dildo or butt plug at the same time as electrode pads on the external genitals. Mystim units also have custom presets, so you can set the intensity of the electricity to increase and decrease at intervals of your choosing.

For partnered fun, put one set of electrodes on yourself and the other on your lover. It can be incredibly erotic to experience the same sensations without touching each other. You can also use the TENS unit while having sex. The extra stimulation of electrode pads set to mimic suckling on your clit, testicles, or anus during intercourse can take your lovemaking to new heights.

What About TENS Unit for BDSM?

It’s simple to adapt a TENS unit for BDSM play. You can crank up the intensity until pleasure turns to pain, place electrode pads closer together, or put them on a more sensitive part of the body. Doing any or all of these things will help produce more pinching, pricking, needle-like sensations. In extreme cases, a TENS device turned up high can induce severe muscle cramps. Placing pads on the ball and sole of a foot is particularly brutal.

If you crave intense pain but don’t want bruises or residual soreness, a TENS unit might be the kinky toy for you. While the discomfort can be quite severe when the power is turned up, all pain stops instantly when it’s turned off. (Get some tips for BDSM play in 8 BDSM Tips - With a Twist.)

Are TENS Units Safe?

For the most part, yes. But you should never use a TENS unit if you have a pacemaker, electronic medical implant, heart abnormality, or are pregnant. TENS units should also never be used over the heart or above the neck.

Sunny, Why Do You Like TENS Devices So Much?

No other toy can produce the deep, penetrating sensations that a TENS unit can. As a woman who often has a hard time climaxing, it’s just what I need. I usually use both channels on myself. One electrode pad on either side of my clitoris mimics the sensation of someone sucking it. I set the controls so the waves of electricity pulse like the rhythm of a fast heartbeat. Coupled with an insertable contracting my vaginal muscles, the TENS produces some of the most intense orgasms I’ve ever experienced.

Sunny Megatron

Sunny Megatron is an award-winning Sexologist, BDSM & Certified Sexuality Educator and media personality. She’s the host & executive producer of the Showtime original series, Sex with Sunny Megatron, co-hosts AASECT Award-winning American Sex Podcast and Open Deeply Podcast, and was 2021's XBIZ Sexpert of the Year. Currently, she’s...

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