BDSM Statistics – How common is BDSM? Facts, stats and complete info

By Benjamin Jorgensen / August 16, 2022

This is the first comprehensive mapping on BDSM participation, interest and behaviours.

The analysis covers data from an independent survey with more than 12,700 individuals. It is by far the largest study of BDSM ever with a focus on the US population.

Unlike previous studies done through telephone interviews (inducing social desirability bias) this study was conducted with an extensive online survey thereby minimizing social biases.

Additionally the term ‘BDSM’ was explained in the survey. Thereby avoiding any contrarian understandings of what BDSM actually is (often percieved more ‘hardcore’ than it is).

Quick Facts:

  • 86% of Americans have either tried BDSM at least once (42%) or expresses and interest to do so (44%).
  • Germany is the most active BDSM country where 47% have tried it (US is 3rd).
  • The first BDSM experience on average is had at the age of 22 years old.
  • Frequent BDSM participants are on average 5 years younger compared to other sexually active adults
  • People who have tried BDSM report having lost their virginity on average 2 years earlier (at 15 years old) than the rest of the population (at 17 years old).
  • Men (59.6%) reported fantasizing about dominating someone significantly more than women (46.7%).
  • Women (64.6%) reported fantasizing about being dominated significantly more than men (53.5%).
  • Active BDSM participants have a significantly higher median household income ($70,030) compared to the rest of the population ($67,521).
  • Whites are 34% more likely to engange or be interest in BDSM compared to other ethnicities – except for Asians (28% more likely).
  • 26.5% of those that have tried BDSM report being bi-sexual (6.6 times higher in the general population)

How common is BDSM?

  • 42.4% of Americans reports that they have tried BDSM at one point or another
  • 34% of all Americans participate in BDSM play on a regular basis (at least every other month).

How common is BDSM play amongst the 42.4 percent, that have tried BDSM before?

  • More than 60% of those who have tried BDSM once, do it at least once a month.
  • 19% of those, who have tried BDSM have never tried it again.

Interest in BDSM

Of those, that have said they never tried BDSM before, how many have an interest? (7.414 people)

  • 77% of Americans who haven’t tried BDSM expresses an interest to do so.
  • 86% of Americans have either tried BDSM at least once (42%) or expresses and interest to do so (44%).

Geographic

So, is America the kinkiest country when it comes to BDSM play?

#CountryHave you ever tried BDSM? (yes)Do you participate in BDSM play at least once a month? (yes)
1Germany47%34%
2Brazil43%23%
3USA42%27%
4Sweden41%20%
5Spain41%19%
6UK40%12%
7Canada38%24%
8Australia38%16%
9Belgium 36%13%
10Netherland35%12%

Least kinky countries on the list:

  1. Greece (13 % tried BDSM, 8% do it regurlaly)
  2. Italy (19 % tried BDSM, 13% do it regurlaly)
  3. France (23 % tried BDSM, 16% do it regurlaly)

Demographics

In this next section we will go throught he demographics of the BDSM community!

Key takeaways:

  • BDSM practicioners are typically white, well-educated, and old.

Age:

  • Average age of first BDSM experience was 22.5 years old.
  • Average age of first BDSM fantasy was 19 years old.
  • Frequent BDSM participants are on average 5 years younger compared to the other sexually active adults
  • People who have tried BDSM report having lost their virginity on average 2 years earlier (at 15 years old) than the rest of the population (at 17 years old).

Gender

  • Men (59.6%) reported fantasizing about dominating someone significantly more than women (46.7%).
  • Women (64.6%) reported fantasizing about being dominated significantly more than men (53.5%).
  • Men (9.5%) reported a desire to engange in sadism* significantly more than women (5.1%).
  • Women (27.8%) reported a desire to engange in masochism* significantly more than men (19.2%)
  • Fetishism was found to be an interest for 40.4% of men and 47.9% of women.

*Masochism = Experiencing pain
*Sadism = Inflicting pain

Across studies men are found to be much more likely to report engaging in unusual sexual behaviours compared to women. This can be partly an explanation combined with the fact that men also report having higher sexual activity.

Sexuality

  • Of those that have tried BDSM at least once only 63.2% report to be excusively heterosexual.
  • 26.5% of those that have tried BDSM report being bi-sexual (6.6 times higher in the general population)

Compared to the general public, this is a huge difference:

SexualityBDSM*Population
Heterosexual63.2%92.5%
Bi-sexual26.5%4.0%
Homosexual3.8%2.5%
Other6.5%1%
*Have tried it at least once. Only America.
Isolated on respondents who have participated in BDSM at least once.

Income

You might be asking yourself: Are BDSM interest and activities assosiated with enormeus wealth like in the E. L. James novels (Fifty Shades of Grey)?

Or are BDSM users just ordinary people?

Here is a pie chart of people who have tried BDSM at least once – and their earnings:

  • BDSM participants have a significantly higher median household income ($70,030) compared to the rest of the population ($67,521).

Religion and Politics

No data was available in the datasat that allowed for comparison to population data unfortunatly.

Race / etnicity

  • Whites are 34% more likely to engange in or be interest in BDSM compared to other ethnicities (except for Asians – that are 28% more likely to be interested or engange in BDSM).
  • BDSM participation and interest is lowest amongst hispanics (only 23% of Hispanics have tried BDSM at one point versus +42% in the population).
RaceBDSM*Population
White82.7%61.6%
Black or African-American3.2%12.4%
Hispanic1.6%14.7%
Asian7.6%5.9%
From multiple races (mix or others)4.9%5.4%
*interested in it, or have tried BDSM. Only America. Percentages are distribution of ethnicities in each group; BDSM ‘group’ versus Population.

Behaviour facts

In the datasat multiple factors are available to allow for behavioral analysis. If you are interested in

  • Pay for sexual services
  • How hardcore the BDSM experiences
  • Sexual activity
  • Swinging and non-monogamy
  • Happiness
  • BDSM Sex toy usage
  • Roleplay

For more information or analysis reach out to: benjamin@bedbible.com

Facts:

  • Visitation rights and child custody was previously removed from parents who participated in BDSM.
  • BDSM was once classified as a mental ilness, and only declassified as such in 2013.