Science can be sexy, apparently. Researchers recently found that BDSM produces "pleasant altered states of consciousness."

A study published in the academic journal Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice found that BDSM—bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism—can elevate a person's consciousness. Northern Illinois University psychology professor Brad Sagarin wrote the study, which was titled "Consensual BDSM Facilitates Role-Specific Altered States of Consciousness."

Until now, the study's abstract says, "No research has tested whether BDSM activities actually facilitate altered states." 

The researchers studied a group of 14 experienced BDSM practitioners and assigned them either "to the bottom role (the person who is bound, receiving stimulation, or following orders) or the top role (the person providing stimulation, orders, or structure) for a BDSM scene." Of the seven couples, the New York Daily News reports two were in a long-term relationship, two were in polyamorous relationships, two were just friends, and another couple were complete strangers—they literally met each other on the day of the study.

The pairs had as much time as they wanted, but most lasted about an hour, according to Time. While the participants did their thing, researchers watched and took notes. They measured participants' cortisol levels and testosterone before and after each session, in addition to monitoring their mood, stress, and all that.

They found that BDSM activities reduced psychological stress and negative affect, and boosted sexual arousal. 

Participants experienced a state of flow, which Sagarin told Time is "the idea that the rest of the world drops away and someone is completely focused on what they’re doing." The state of flow is also common on athletes, artists, and others who find themselves immersed in an activity. 

Sagarin thinks BDSM is only one path to altered states of consciousness. He said to Time, "If someone were engaging in sex in a way that they were working hard on their performance and diligently trying to cut out the rest of the world, it’s certainly possible that they could get into a state of flow."