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How Common Is Sexual Choking?

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

Several surveys found that nearly a majority of college students use choking during sex

A man’s hand choking a young woman in bed.
Shutterstock ID: 668846500 by MaryMistan.

I strongly recommend not to practice choking. This article is part of a series intended to show that choking is unsafe, may cause brain damage, and is potentially lethal.

Sexual choking is not exclusive of BDSM, and has become prevalent among the young.

In a survey of 4,989 US college students, 58% of women had been choked during sex at least once (Herbenick et al., 2021). Another survey of undergraduate students (Herbenick et al., 2022a) found that 37% of the women and 7% of the men had been choked more than five times.

Strangulation is also increasingly a feature of sexual assault. It is also used non-consensually during sex that was consensual up to that point. However, I will limit this discussion to consensual choking.

Yet another survey of undergraduate and graduate students (Herbenick et al., 2022b) studied closely sexual choking in terms of prevalence, characteristics and physical responses. The survey was given to 13,449 students, of which 4,254 completed it. Men were 49.6% of the responders, women 48.1% and transgender/non-binary 2.2%.

Age differences

The survey found that 30% to 40% of the responders have practiced choking during sex. By comparing the responses of the older graduate students with the younger undergraduates, it found that choking is more prevalent among the young. The percentage of people doing the choking was 37.1% among the undergraduates and 27.6% among the graduate. The percentage of those being choked was 42.1% of the undergraduates and 32.1% of the graduates. Therefore, choking is more frequent in the younger generations, a sign that is increasing over time.

Choking was less prevalent among people over 40 (Herbenick et al., 2023).

Gender differences

There were also substantial gender differences. Men did more choking (47.4% undergraduates, 37.7% graduates) than women (26.7% undergraduates, 16.2% graduates). Conversely, men were choked (25.4% undergraduates, 23.5% graduates) less frequently than women (57.6% undergraduates, 41.3% graduates). In transgender/non-binary people, choking (45.0%) and being choked (51.5%) were even more prevalent.

In summary, men prefer to do the choking while women prefer to be choked. A majority of the women and transgender people in this sample have experienced choking.


  • Herbenick D, Fu TC, Patterson C (2023) Sexual Repertoire, Duration of Partnered Sex, Sexual Pleasure, and Orgasm: Findings from a US Nationally Representative Survey of Adults. J Sex Marital Ther 49:369-390.

  • Herbenick D, Guerra-Reyes L, Patterson C, Rosenstock Gonzalez YR, Wagner C, Zounlome N (2022a) "It Was Scary, But Then It Was Kind of Exciting": Young Women's Experiences with Choking During Sex. Arch Sex Behav 51:1103-1123.

  • Herbenick D, Patterson C, Beckmeyer J, Gonzalez YRR, Luetke M, Guerra-Reyes L, Eastman-Mueller H, Valdivia DS, Rosenberg M (2021) Diverse Sexual Behaviors in Undergraduate Students: Findings From a Campus Probability Survey. The journal of sexual medicine 18:1024-1041.

  • Herbenick D, Fu TC, Eastman-Mueller H, Thomas S, Svetina Valdivia D, Rosenberg M, Guerra-Reyes L, Wright PJ, Kawata K, Feiner JR (2022b) Frequency, Method, Intensity, and Health Sequelae of Sexual Choking Among U.S. Undergraduate and Graduate Students. Arch Sex Behav.

Copyright 2023 Hermes Solenzol.

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