Several months ago I decided to finally take the plunge into an intimidating area of S&M: electrical play.
The concept of stimulating or torturing one’s erogenous zones with electricity has, in my experience, been known to make even the most seasoned bondage aficionados wary. In fact, my successful attempt at converting a home stereo system into an anal/urethral e-stim device was once met with strong disapproval and scoldings by several electrically-minded kinksters, worried about the dangers of an improperly constructed or operated DIY e-stim unit. All things considered, they’re probably right, and unless you have a degree in electrical engineering (or a friend who does to supervise you), I suggest holding off on the homemade TENS units. I don’t really have either, so I wizened up and bought some high-quality e-stim equipment: namely the ErosTek ET-232. Complete review after the jump.
In e-stim, the power unit regulates voltage and current going to the electrodes, usually with adjustable control knobs. I invested in an ET-232 power unit from ErosTek along with four types of electrodes:
–don’t forget the banana-to-pin adapters. I did!
The whole order came to almost $600 after shipping (half of that is just the ET-232 itself). Both online shops were quick to ship, and discreet packages arrived in about a week.
How it works
The ET-232 itself is a surprisingly small device; to the uninitiated it looks a lot like a guitar stomp box. A central mode knob toggles through 15 different program functions, while an option knob above that alters the settings of the selected program. Many of these factory programs are preset frequency/intensity patterns that you simply tweak to your liking, while others are more interactive and encourage user input- both via the built-in mic (Dance party e-stim!) and an 1/8th inch audio jack (Let your favorite band jack you off). There are two separate stereo channels, which makes for plenty of electrode configurations!
Electrodes provide points for current to enter and exit your body, and come in many forms. The unit can power up to two pairs of monopolar electrodes (which need to be used in pairs, positive and negative) or two bipolar electrodes (which work alone- they have two contacts on board). It should be noted that the electrodes I bought are not immediately compatible with the cables that come with the ET-232. The electrodes use 2mm pin connectors and the ET-232’s wires use banana plugs. Erostek sells adapters on their website, but Ginger and I solved this problem with an emergency run to Radioshack and a soldering iron. The unit is powered by either a 9V battery or DC adapter, which means that you don’t have to be plugged in if you don’t want to be. US and European plugs are included, so you can be plugged in both in France and Kentucky.
The electrode pads that I ordered from ElectraStim come in sets of four, and have a sticky surface that holds firmly to skin without leaving any sort of residue when removed. They can be re-used up to five times before they become unreliable, which for their price isn’t terrible when bought in bulk. The stainless steel probes are machined from single pieces of metal and have extremely smooth surfaces that deter the development of unwanted microbes. They also feel extremely cold to the touch at room temperature- I run mine under warm soapy water before I use them!
There is a difference in sensation between insertable electrodes and the electrode pads that I bought. Insertable electrodes usually have a far greater surface area inside of you than the 4 square inches the pads provide, and operate in an aqueous environment and thus conduct into you without too much resistance. Even though the pads provide a way to conduct electricity through the surface of your skin, the drier environment that they operate in means that they can sting if turned up too high, and should be checked occasionally to make sure they’re not falling off, as the suddenly decreased contact area when this happens can hurt much more than when stuck on properly. They should only be assigned to a single user, as they’re not safe to share.
How it feels
Ladies and gentlemen, this is how it will feel once we start banging the robots. Electrical stimulation feels quite unlike any other sensation, and is hard to describe in terms of anything else you may have ever felt. The sensation is a result of electrical current of specific frequency and safe intensity flowing through part your body and interfering with your nerves, resulting in muscle contractions and strange sensations that are often both delightful and painful, but certainly intense.
Each channel on the ET-232 has a separate intensity knob, and that intensity seems to map out pretty well to the scale of what I can take (electrode combo: urethral probe and monopolar butt plug). When I first turn the unit on from zero and begin turning it up, 50% intensity is the first major plateau I hit. Beyond that, turning it up any further becomes a constant contest with myself: since I become temporarily desensitized to a certain intensity, after some time I can always take “A little more”. However, that additional amount gets smaller and smaller as I turn it up, and the highest I’ve ever taken the unit on myself is less than a 3/4 turn of the control knob. Certainly there is a high ceiling on this thing for the edge play crowd, seeing as I wouldn’t wish a full blast from it upon anybody despite what a total sadist I am. But I like the challenge that it begs.
Part of the appeal of electrical stimulation for me is the potential to be able to control the attributes of the sensations I feel or inflict on my partner using settings, so I took to the more interactive modes of the ET-232 right away. “Intense” generates a steady tone with tunable intensity and frequency, which gives me direct control of a constant sensation. The three “Audio” modes utilize the built-in microphone to drive intensity using ambient volume, in effect making sound painful or pleasureful. This means that Ginger squirms way less when she’s tied up, and also means that it hurts her pussy even when I slap her breast (and then again when she reacts with a gasp!). In fact, many of the modes are very BDSM-friendly, especially “Random” which sounds just like what it is (and a great way to keep your sub company while you use the bathroom, best with two pads on her inner thighs).
As for the insertable steel electrodes, it was pretty much smooth sailing. Some men may cringe at the thought of a urethral probe, but I’ve been sticking things up my dick since I was 9 so this wasn’t a problem (but you always use sterile lube with urethral probes). I was able to choose between three different widths for my model- 5, 7 and 9mm- and I went with 5. I don’t think I could take 7, however 5 slides in easily so maybe I could if I tried. Encouragement is welcome in the comments. When paired with a monopolar anal electrode, the tip of the urethral probe ends up being where most of the sensation happens, so the urethral probe feels sort of like a magic wand stuck inside of me, business end first. I can point it around to a certain degree to shoot off electricity through the base of my cock on different routes to the anal probe electrode. On higher intensities it can trigger some of the muscles that control my legs, causing me to gently spasm a bit. For this reason, e-stim can often be exhausting, and ErosTek warns that their units shouldn’t be used for more than a few hours a week. The anal probe and dildo probes have hard white plastic rings at their bases, which are apparently affixed permanently, but after literally sitting on my anal probe for close to an hour one night I noticed that the plastic had slid slightly. I readjusted it afterward and it hasn’t been a problem since, but I wouldn’t trust it to stay on in every situation.
600 bucks is a lot of money to pay, even if it is for a sexual experience, so the bar was set high for the ET-232 from the start. It had to not only be novel to impress me, it had to be polished. And it actually was. It’s very obvious to me as I play with the unit that passion went into its creation, and that its greatest fan may actually be its designer. The nonuniform connector standard for electrode accessories is annoying, but isn’t hard to remedy. So congrats to Erostek- I’ll be keeping this box at bedside for a long time. If you have the cash to blow and the kind of creative mind that salivates over sexual possibilities, you’ll find the cost worth the quality.
But hey, maybe open sourcing this thing could demystify it as a DIY possibility?