from the Submissive Guide Newsletter 12-19-15
Often misunderstood; subspace has a complexity that leads many to believe what they are experiencing isn't subspace at all. But what we can all agree on is that subspace alters your senses during play. While SM play is most common to reach subspace you can get there using other means as well. But can you reach orgasm during subspace? The majority will say no, and I'm going to talk about why orgasms fail to happen during subspace and the very tiny minority that can achieve orgasm during subspace.
What is subspace, again?
Subspace is the sensory response to intense sensation during play. Often this includes some form of pain play or masochism but it doesn't have to. The sensory response in the body during play is to release chemicals to help us cope with the stress our body is under. These chemicals are adrenaline and endorphins. Depending on how your body responds to this influx of chemicals in the bloodstream is how you'll feel during space.
Subspace is commonly described as a detachment from what is happening, a warm fuzzy sensory overload of sorts. Some people become completely unresponsive, while others are on a spectrum of intense focus to lack of focus.
There are levels to how deep you are in subspace at any time during play. Sometimes you are floating just below the surface of focus and other times you are so far away that even simple communication alludes you. In the lighter levels of space, you are a bit more focused and can interact with your partner and the sensations you are experiencing. But the further away you travel, the less responsiveness you get. It is in these levels that sexual responses also fail. So while you could be completely turned on, the physical focus you need to achieve orgasm has checked out in space. You have to be in the moment to orgasm and the detachment of subspace prevents that from happening.
No Orgasms in Space
If you've had an orgasm before, and let's hope you have or you should work on that without the complications of subspace first, you know that your focus in on your sexual climax and getting to that point. Any distraction can pull you away from reaching an orgasm. As you learned above, subspace is a detachment from your senses, it causes you to lose focus. Subspace causes you to feel further from the action, to numb the feelings you experience which is why playing more intensely once in subspace is dangerous.
Since your body needs to be focused on sexual attention to be able to orgasm, if you are floating in subspace you can't connect to the sensory receptors responsible for orgasm. No matter how hard your Dom tries you can not reach the focus necessary to orgasm without leaving subspace.
Yeah, well I can! Does that mean I'm not in subspace?
Not at all. It means your body handles the endorphins and adrenaline in a different way, allowing you to still focus sensations to your sexual organs. People who work out regularly, athletes like runners and swimmers and anyone who experiences "runner's high" routinely all have learned to cope better with the chemicals in their body and can have a hard time reaching the deeper subspace that is often described.
Remember what I said above, how you feel during subspace and what you can do in subspace is completely individual. I can only write in broad generalities to try to include as many people as I can, so if you can orgasm in subspace, that's great!
Why There Are Conflicting Opinions
Our bodies are unique and each of us handles stresses on the body in different ways. Whether that stress is negative or positive we respond differently. So it stands to reason that the descriptions of subspace will be just as varied. They way you respond in space is what matters.
Learn how you respond and make notes about it. Make sure that you tell new partners how you look and act as you enter subspace so that they can watch for that. And of course, if they don't want you going into subspace they can pull you back. If you don't know how you get to subspace, but you know you do, then ask your play partner to describe what they saw as you slipped away. Did you get less vocal, respond less, get a glassy-eyed look, something else entirely? Once you have that information, if you play with someone else you can tell them what that looks like and then negotiate if subspace is desired or not (I advocate for not going to subspace with new play partners).
Also, the many types and levels of subspace could also be the sticking point for the conflict of what subspace is, to begin with. There are so many ways to describe and explore subspace that agreeing on these can bring an online discussion board to a screaming frenzy. And if some people can reach subspace and orgasm within it, but others can't then who am I to say they are not really in subspace? They obviously are experiencing something that to them is subspace. I'm not going to challenge that.
Enjoy subspace. It's meant to be a wonderful experience that not everyone can reach. Don't worry about whether you can orgasm or not. You aren't broken if you can't orgasm in subspace and you most certainly can be in subspace when you orgasm (you lucky duck). As long as you understand the limits of your body you can revel in the pleasure of sensation, whatever that may be for you.