So What's the Thrill?
Obviously the cock is the organ of the male body most effectively wired for pleasurable sensation, and there are huge stretches of the pleasure/pain boundary to be explored in its vicinity. But arguably more important is the psychological angle: for many men, cocks are the center of sexuality and a symbol of sexual potency and when someone helplessly undergoes abuse of his most precious appendage the psychological charge is immense. A site normally associated with indulgent pleasure is being transformed into a vulnerable target for punishment and pain. There are also clear links between CT and interests in sexual control and chastity.
Parts of the Penis and How to be Cruel to Them
A structure of several layers, the core layer being spongy tissues (the corpora cavernosa) that engorge with blood during erection and the arteries that supply them. Within this and a little closer to the underside is the urethra (the duct that carries piss and spunk) and around it muscle fiber, nerves and minor blood vessels covered in a loose layer of skin. The shaft is the least sensitive part of the cock, though the sensitivity of the skin that covers it increases greatly when stretched during erection -- appropriately, because an erect cock, being under pressure, is far more fragile than a flaccid cock. The flaccid shaft can be struck with the palm of the hand, knuckles or objects like small 'cock-whips', rulers and beaters (though avoid excessive force - see below); squeezed with hands or otherwise pressurized with bindings; scratched and abraded with fingernails and rough-textured objects like stiff brushes; subjected to extremes of hot and cold (temperature play); pinched on the surface skin with fingers or clothespins and clamps. When erect similar treatments could be applied but much more gently. In both cases avoid too much pressure on the underside, where the urethra is closest to the surface.
The fold of skin that covers the glans when flaccid and should roll back to expose it on erection is basically skin with nerves and blood vessels, and a little more sensitive than the shaft, particularly on the inside. Even when it has been removed by circumcision for religious, health or cosmetic reasons, a remnant usually remains, particularly of the frenum, a web-like structure that attaches it under the glans and can be a very sensitive site for pinching and pegs. The foreskin as a whole can be squeezed, stretched and twisted fairly firmly to no real ill effect.
Primarily spongy tissue (the corpus spongiosum, erectile but less so than the shaft) covered in a thin, tight and highly sensitive skin layer. The most sensitive part of the dick, even more so in many circumcised men, and particularly so at the ridge at its base, the corona. Little effort is needed to produce results, and some men find even gentle stroking difficult to bear. Can be struck like the shaft, squeezed, pinched, subjected to temperature play, rubbed and abraded and so on. Sometimes a little water-based lubricant helps things along.
Urethral opening or meatus (piss-slit, pisshole)
Often very sensitive and tender, particularly just inside, which in many people is an unexplored territory, and can be carefully teased with fingers or other objects such as cotton buds, lubricated if less discomfort is desired, and also stimulated by pulling and twisting on a healed Prince Albert piercing. However the urethra is sterile inside and any objects to be inserted more than a centimeter (0.5") or so should be sterile too. See Catheters and Sounds for more details of urethral play, which has its own potential dangers.
Much enjoyment can be gained by exploiting the cock's propensity to increase and decrease in size somewhat independently of the conscious control of its owner by various forms of cock bondage. One of the most common pieces of male SM wear is undoubtedly the cock ring, a metal or rubber ring (the latter are usually vacuum cleaner drive belts repackaged by fetish shops at a vast premium) through which first balls (one by one) then cock are slipped when flaccid and which can give a pleasantly constricted feeling when erect.
With some men, unfortunately, the difference in size between tumescense and detumesence is so large that it's impossible to find a size that stays on all the time but isn't dangerously tight and uncomfortable on erection. As David Stein recounts: "I once made the mistake of putting on a metal ring at home before going out. At the bar, when I lost my erection in a moment of distraction, the ring came off, slid down the leg of my jeans, hit the floor with a clang, and rolled away. Not the way to make a good impression." A variation on a ring is a simple cock strap that goes round the same site, often made of leather or neoprene and adjustable to size.
During a scene, the snugness of the bindings could be increased so that erections are deliberately made uncomfortable or painful (there are some hazards to this -- see below): with some people this can result in a particularly vicious circle with the discomfort itself exciting further erection. This can be achieved with cords, laces or thongs, for example tightly connecting loops around the glans with loops anchored round the base of cock and balls. A variety of purpose made cock straps is also available for the purpose, such as the 'anti-erect'. There are obvious links here to chastity techniques.
In addition, cocks are often the focus of specialist techniques including clothespins, electricity, piercing (temporary and permanent), pumping, and waxing.
Health and Safety
This is probably the biggest danger in cock play, as pain may not be a reliable indicator. Tissue that's deprived of blood eventually stops hurting -- which doesn't mean it's okay! It may be irreversibly damaged. Any binding is too tight if it cuts into the skin and causes bleeding. Any binding is on too long if it causes the cock or ballsac to become cold or numb, but the third typical sign of circulation problems in limbs that are bound -- loss of color -- is less reliable in this case. The cock and ball sac normally become engorged with blood during sexual arousal, turning reddish or purplish as a result, and up to a point genital bondage just helps that process along. Circulation could be dangerously impaired by tight bindings before there's much loss of color.
A better sign of impaired circulation is edema, or visible swelling, of soft tissue in the cock or scrotum below or around a binding. While such swelling isn't dangerous in itself (it will normally go down on its own after circulation resumes), whenever it occurs the bonds causing it should be loosened or removed as soon as possible in order to prevent damage. Avoid genital bindings that can't be removed easily even when there's swelling. Tie with a bow-knot or some other knot that will release easily if you pull on the ends -- and be sure to leave the ends long enough to get at. Keep blunt-tipped emergency medical technician's shears (scissors) available to cut bindings in an emergency. Don't use a metal cock ring that's tight when the cock you put it on is soft. It's going to be a lot tighter when that cock gets hard, and you won't be able to take it off until the cock softens again -- which might be a long wait if the ring has caused severe edema.
To sum up: A good rule of thumb is to loosen tight genital bindings enough to restore full circulation every 20 to 30 minutes even without any signs of a problem. And in no case should anything tighter than a comfortable ring or harness be left in place overnight or throughout an extended scene.
If a man is forced to come while tightly bound around the genitals, the semen may be forced back down the urethra and reabsorbed into the body. Deliberate retrograde ejaculation is a practice of Tantric yoga, and although possibly uncomfortable, there doesn't seem to be any direct medical research on whether it is harmful. Evidence from vasectomies suggests frequent retrograde ejaculations might at worst lower sperm counts or generate antibodies to semen. An isolated incident should be nothing to worry about.
Foreskins can be torn, and if circulation in them is cut off for very long, the tissue won't retract normally and could even die and slough off.
Be gentle with genital piercings: if you rip a ring out, you'll need medical help to repair the damage and avoid a nasty scar, infection, or worse. If a ring does tear out, use an ice pack and local pressure to stop the bleeding (see the First Aid Manual) until you can get to a doctor.
A fracture, when an erect penis is struck hard and "breaks" with a loud cracking noise, is an unlikely but potentially serious problem, a medical emergency that requires prompt treatment by a physician. As first aid on the way to the hospital, use ice packs to control bleeding. But if you avoid hard blows to a hard cock, you won't risk the problem in the first place.
Ball Torture (BT)
Ball Torture refers to a range of techniques to cause sensation, discomfort and pain in the male testicles and scrotum. Common examples are squeezing with hands, slapping and beating with hands and other objects, crushing using various vice-like devices and applying pressure with bindings, straps and weights are favorite techniques. Often found in conjunction with cock torture (CT), thus CBT.
So What's the Thrill?
As most men know, the balls are highly sensitive, particularly to pressure. Most men find handling, stroking and squeezing gently is a pleasurable sensation in itself, and the boundary between strong sensation and outright pain seems particularly malleable here. For many people there is also the thrill that the balls are regarded as probably the most delicate and vulnerable part of the male anatomy and using them in SM games requires great trust and carries a particularly intense charge.
The scrotum is a loose, flexible bag of skin that contains the testicles (the "balls"), two bean-shaped organs of fibrous material covering soft gland tissue in which sperm is produced. Plentiful pressure-sensitive nerves in the testicles account for their extreme sensitivity to blows or squeezing. A ridge on the outside of each testicle, known as the epidymis, extends up to form a lump on top and contains tubules that transfer sperm. Attached to the top, next to the epidymis, is the spermatic cord, an elastic tissue that connects the testicles to the rest of the body and contains the vas deferens, the duct between the epidymis and the penis. Since sperm production requires a lower temperature than the normal body temperature, the testicles usually hang outside the body, but the spermatic cord can draw them up into the body when cold. The scrotum also contains some fluid.
Various implements to use
Hands are the obvious weapons: precisely controllable and always available. Slap (gently), punch (more gently), or flick with fingertips, and carefully squeeze with the fingers. Get the balls in the bottom of the scrotum, then twist the scrotum around above them to prevent them slipping out of your fingers.
Probably the second most popular items are ball bondage toys. Cords, ropes, laces and bandages can all be wrapped in various ways around the balls to stretch the scrotal skin, force balls apart or together and put pressure on individual balls. A classic basic tie is a loop around the base of both cock and balls, a loop around the neck of the scrotum and then a loop between the balls to force them apart. Leather and fetish shops usually have a range of (usually leather, sometimes rubber or neoprene) toys with various arrangements of straps purpose made for ball bondage, for example: Cock and ball straps and dividers anchor the balls in place round the root of the scrotum and cock and pass around the scrotum vertically to separate the balls.
Ball stretchers are straps of various sizes that go around the top of the scrotum horizontally, forcing the balls down into the stretched sac. Alternatives are bandages, ropes or leather thongs which can be gradually wrapped round to increase the pressure. Just a modest strap around the top of the scrotum will have the additional effect of trapping the balls and preventing them slipping out of range. Parachutes are parachute-shaped devices with a hole in the middle for the scrotum to pass through, with the parachute itself resting on top of the balls. Ball weights are then hung from chains below the parachute. Weights can also be hung from arrangements of chain or rope. Be very careful with weights: some men can work up to hanging quite large weights from their balls, but there is some danger to the practice. Weights of 500g-1.5kg (1-3 lbs) should be enough to give sensation and be safe.
As well as weights, light objects that move can be hung from balls. A London top has experimented with dangling a spherical jumping toy from Toys R Us in a string bag attached to ball bindings or parachute. Crushing the balls can be achieved with various clamps or bondage equipment like cling film (saran wrap) or elastic bandages (Ace bandages). DeBlase says he has read "of an American Indian torture that involved soaking a piece of rawhide and then sewing it up to tightly encase a victim's scrotum. As it dries, it shrinks, increasing pressure". He also speculates about experimenting with an inflatable blood pressure cuff, and suggests putting gravel inside the elastic bandages to add abrasion to the repertoire of ball techniques.
Toys for beating need to be fairly light and delicate. An ordinary pencil is quite adequate, especially for rapid light strokes on a well-secured ball. Some people use a small, soft cat o'nine tails called a ball whip. One source of hard objects suitable to the task is music shops: try bell-beaters designed for playing hand-held cowbells, or mallets topped with dense rubber balls of the sort used to play glockenspiels and chime bars!
Other specialist techniques could be applied to the balls. See elastrators, electricity, play piercing, shaving.
Health and Safety
The key thing to remember is that levels of tolerance vary enormously. When you're playing with anyone new, always start out lightly with any kind of stimulation to the balls and increase the intensity gradually. With an established partner or in "self-abuse," you can safely begin at a higher level and move faster, but you should still be very sensitive to his (or your own) reactions as you go along. Probably the single most important danger signal in this area is intense and often rapidly increasing pain, so the bottom must be able to let the top know unmistakably when he's had enough. In the vast majority of cases, a bottom whose consciousness is not dulled by alcohol or drugs will have no difficulty in distinguishing between a level of pain that is erotically stimulating and pain that signals real damage.
Probably the most common form of genitorture involves pressure exerted by "ball crushers," the hands, or weights. While even a heavy, experienced masochist is almost certain to beg for relief well before damage is done through steady pressure alone, if you have any doubt whether you're injuring him, stop. Ball stretchers aren't hazardous within reasonable limits, but don't get impatient and over do it. Begin with a narrow stretcher band and work up to wider ones gradually, carefully monitoring the bottom's (or your own) acceptance of the increasing pressure. Do not leave the any genital bindings on too long and certainly not overnight - a good rule of thumb is to remove them every 20 or 30 minutes and allow the circulation to return to normal for a while. See the Cock Torture briefing for more on the dangers of circulation blockage in cock and ball play.
Much more potentially hazardous is any bondage in which the balls are tied to something else, such as another part of the body or a hook on wall or floor, and might be yanked by a sudden movement: for instance, if you tie a rope or attach a chain between his ankles and his scrotum so that if he tries to move his legs he pulls on his balls. Don't combine this kind of bondage with any other strong stimulation that might cause him to yank on his balls involuntarily, in reaction to pain elsewhere, unless he's otherwise so tightly restrained he cannot move enough to put pressure on them. And never tie someone by the balls to a wall, post, etc. in a standing position without additional support: he could lose his balance or faint and put his whole body-weight on them.
The most common injuries to the balls during genitorture are abrasions (usually from rough-surfaced bindings, such as rawhide or scratchy rope), bruises (usually from slapping or whipping the balls), and tiny cuts (which might happen in any rough play when the scrotum is pulled tight over the balls, or during a shaving), minor injuries best treated with sensible first aid such as cleaning with antiseptic. Bruises generally heal by themselves, though an ice pack can limit swelling. Medical intervention is not usually necessary unless the bruising doesn't fade normally or you suspect an infection.
More serious is a hematoma, which occurs when an injury ruptures larger, deeper blood vessels and a pool or pocket of blood forms between layers of tissue, such as between the scrotum and the balls. The pocket of blood will generally clot in a short time and form a hard mass. Externally, it will appear as a firm, bulging, or swollen area. A small hematoma will usually be reabsorbed without lasting damage. One that is large or keeps growing (because fresh blood keeps accumulating) can "squeeze" adjacent structures, including nerves and blood vessels, reducing circulation to the area and impairing sensation and other functions. If the pressure of a large hematoma is not relieved, permanent damage can result. Prompt medical attention is indicated.
In men who are predisposed to them, minor injuries to the balls can precipitate subsequent swellings, called hydroceles or spermatoceles, in which fluids other than blood build up in the space around the testicles. They can be corrected at one's convenience unless they become infected, in which case prompt treatment is required. Another problem to watch out for is an epididymal cyst; this is not typically caused by trauma but if you notice any unexplained swelling or mass in your partner's scrotum, or your own, do not engage in such play until you know it is harmless or have it corrected. Also, avoid ball bondage entirely with anyone who has a scrotal hernia.
Probably the most serious damage that might occur to the balls during erotic genitorture -- which is not to say that it's likely -- is rupture of a testicle. This is when the outer covering of the ball splits and allows the contents to spill out into the scrotal sac. Besides causing extreme pain, often accompanied by nausea, a ruptured testicle will make the scrotum swell rapidly, and internal bleeding will nearly always create a large hematoma. The ballsac will appear black and blue and be massively enlarged. If this happens, go to an emergency room immediately! The most likely causes are suddenly yanking on the balls or hitting them with a heavy, blunt instrument. Symptoms similar to rupture occur in cases of testicular torsion, which is when the spermatic cords and vessels that suspend the testicle within the scrotum become twisted or kinked, interrupting the normal flow of blood, etc. There will be intense pain, and the scrotum will swell rapidly and be extremely tender to the touch. Surgery must be done within six hours of the onset of pain or the testicle will be lost.