Person's red lips covered in blood.

Hematolagnia, heavily associated with vampirism or the “vampire” fetish, is a type of sexual fetish in which individuals experience arousal from using blood or blood-like imagery during sexual activity. The taste, smell, sight, and texture of blood can be stimulating to some.2 Blood play describes the practice of using blood or substances reminiscent of blood during sexual activity. This fetish is practiced with and without penetrative activities. During any sexual encounter, consent and clear communication are essential, and they are especially crucial for all partners when engaging in hematolagnia practices because of the potential risks involved. 


There are no definite causes of why someone would engage in hematolagnia at this time because there is a large variety of reported reasons, and they vary by culture.4 Overall, some motives include personal fetishes, belief that the red color is alluring to look at, and the amount of trust needed to allow a partner to cut someone else can be appealing for some.2  There is also a general appeal in the concept of taboo, or a draw towards activities that are forbidden or deemed salacious by society. 

Hematolagnia has a strong presence in the BDSM community because it contains aspects of sadomasochism and power play. Blood play often involves submission of one partner to another, dominant partner; the submissive partner gives up control during hematolagnic activities. Integrating this degree of pain and punishment into BDSM activities can be sexually arousing for some. All in all, fetishes that motivate sexual activity often appear mysteriously, and while there are theories, there is little certainty surrounding their development within an individual. 

Spilled wine that is often used to engage in blood play.

Methods for Practicing Hematolagnia

Hematolagnia can manifest in several different forms, and there is no single way to practice it. It is crucial for all partners to fully consent to any particular method of practicing this fetish. The Safe, Sane, Consensual (SSC) Guidelines, a prevalent measure in the BDSM community, ensure that partners completely consent to this activity by confirming that the activity will be performed safely and that both partners are in a good and healthy state of mind beforehand.3

Some people might use sharp objects, like knives or syringes, during sex to draw blood from their partner(s). This could cause infection due to improper handling of the instrument or failure to properly clean it. Blood play could also be life-threatening if the cut is too deep or done on a major vessel. There are risks involved with open wounds contacting blood and other bodily fluids. 

Others practice this fetish by engaging in sexual activity during the first phase of the menstrual cycle, when there is a menstrual flow. The components of the menstrual flow include blood, mucus, and tissues shed from the outer layer of the uterus walls. Using the menstrual mixture can be an alternative way of engaging in blood play without the potential risks of blood exposure to open wounds.

Another way to practice hematolagnia is through smearing blood on a partner’s body during sexual activity. Some choose to ingest the blood through licking or drinking it. Oftentimes, people use liquids that resemble blood, like fake blood, red food coloring, or red wine, to satisfy their fetish while avoiding actually interacting with human blood.2

Two people kissing.


The risks involved with practicing hematolagnia are associated with blood contact. Blood can carry pathogens that cause several diseases including sexually transmitted infections or STIs, such as syphilis  or HIV. It is recommended that all participants to get tested for STIs and other blood transmitted diseases before engaging in any form of sexual activity involving bodily fluid transfer and blood contact. 

When cutting into a partner, the sharp instruments could potentially be unsterile and cause serious infections. All tools used must be sterilized. The cut sites must be properly cleaned with soapy, warm water as soon as possible and wiped with 70% or higher wiping alcohol to avoid infections.1

Concluding Remarks

Hematolagnia is fairly uncommon within the realm of paraphilias. However, because there is a variety of ways to practice it, some people experience it to greater or lesser extents. It is crucial that all participants consent to any activity related to this or any fetish and are fully aware of the potential risks involved with blood interaction. Communication is necessary when engaging in hematolagnia to ensure that every partner is on the same page and can enjoy this sexual encounter. 


  1. Family Medicine. “Handling Injuries: From Small Cuts to Serious Wounds.” Cleavand Clinic. 10 April 2018. Web.
  2. Holland, Kimberly. “16 Things to Know About Hematolagnia, or Blood Play.” Healthline. 26 June 2019. Web. 
  3. Lords, Kayla. “Safety in BDSM: Understanding SSC, RACK, and PRICK.” Loving BDSM. 2 May 2018. Web.
  4. Mannes, Jeff. “How Sexual Fetishes Come into Existence.” Orgysmic. 10 February 2018. Web. 
  5. Washington State University. “Fetishwiki: Let’s get freaky.” Daily Evergreen. LexisNexis: Pullman, 13 April 2021.  

Last Updated: 27 May 2021.