It’s a truth universally acknowledged that breasts are incredibly awesome. Whether they’re big or small, perky or slightly saggy, or real or surgically enhanced, boobs are a lot of fun to look at—not to mention touch. So you probably want to know how to play with them in a way that’s pleasurable for both you and your partner.
Luckily, there’s a very simple answer to this question: just ask your partner what they like! Lots of people really, really enjoy breast play. There’s even some evidence to suggest that a few lucky folks can have an orgasm from nipple stimulation alone. The nipples have a ton of nerve endings, and studies have shown that the nerve endings in the nipples stimulate the same part of the brain as the clitoris does: the genital-cortex. The nipples, brain, and genitals actually end up “talking to each other” during nipple play, using the spinal cord as a messenger system.
Here is an example of how that conversation definitely goes. This is 100% science here, folks:
Stimulated nipple to the brain: DAMN, GURL, THAT IS NICE!
Brain to nipple: Oh, yeah, gurl, you like that?
Nipple to brain: Yeah, gurl. This is AMAZIN’!!!
Brain to nipple: That’s rad, gurl! That’s sexual. We are here for that!
Brain to genitals: Hey, gurl. You are experiencing positive sexual touch, mk?
Genitals to brain: Oh, ok, gurl. I’ll start that sexual response cycle.
Brain to genitals: Awesome, gurl. I am having a great time, too. Let’s party.
And thus, the clitoris becomes engorged, the labia swell, and the vagina becomes lubricated. In some instances, vulva-owners can get that indirect genital stimulation so fired up that they climax from nip-play alone. I’m really glad the brain has a phone line, aren’t you?
In a 2006 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine—kinda old, we know, but there hasn’t been that much boob research conducted in the past 14 years—81.5% of women reported that breast and nipple stimulation causes or enhances sexual arousal. That being said, 7.2% of women said breast and nipple stimulation decreased their arousal, so once again, you should probably check in with your partner to find out what they like.
And even if your partner does want you to play with their breasts, you should handle them with care: While one person might like to be lightly bitten, another may find that kinda painful. And please, don’t smack them or squeeze them with all your might, like you see in porn—unless your partner specifically tells you they’re into rougher boob play and want you to do those things.
Here are a few general tips for mastering your partner’s pleasure zones, as well as some moves you’d probably be better off avoiding.
According to a UCLA study, women who are unhappy with their breast size are 16 times more likely to hide their breasts during sex. Which is a bummer, because you don’t just want to see your partner’s breasts—you also want them to feel safe and secure and turned-on.
It might help to compliment your partner’s breasts early in foreplay. “Comment on her high responsiveness to stimulation,” says Patti Britton, Ph.D., a clinical sexologist (i.e., “your nipples are so hard right now.”) Alternatively, something as simple as “Oh, wow, you have amazing boobs” could be just the confidence boost your mate needs.
2) Don’t head for the nipple right away.
As Debby Herbenick, PhD, previously explained to Men’s Health, nipples vary widely in terms of sensitivity, so if you’re not quite sure what your partner likes, you need to work your way up to nipple stimulation. Start off by gently stroking or massaging the tops, bottoms, and sides of their breasts. Alternate with lightly kissing their neck, earlobes, and collarbone. That’ll help build anticipation and leave them wanting more.
3) Focus on the areola.
When you feel like your partner is ready—and if they’re making a lot of noise or writhing around with pleasure, they’re probably ready—move onto the areola, the dark-colored circle that surrounds the nipple, which is actually more sensitive than the nipple itself. Focus especially on the upper quadrant of the breast, between 10 and 2 o’clock. It’s the most sensitive part of the bull’s-eye. Gently stroke the nipple and circle the areola with a finger, or circle the nipple with your thumb and forefinger.
4) Get your mouth involved—but be gentle.
If your partner seems to be enjoying things, use your tongue to very lightly draw circles around their nipple. If their nipple is erect, gently flick it with your tongue a few times before slowly and gently taking the nipple into your mouth. Alternate between licking and sucking on the nipple. (If your partner has inverted nipples, which approximately 10 to 20% of women do, you can lure the nipples out with touching, kissing, licking, and gentle sucking, but you might have to work a little harder.)
After a while, you can give your mouth a break and go back to gently circling and stroking their nipples—they might enjoy the varying pressure.
5) Don’t bite—unless your partner asks you to.
Even if your partner is writhing and moaning with pleasure, you shouldn’t get carried away and bite or pull their nipple without her consent. If you sense that your partner might like it rough, ask, “Do you want more?” or “Harder?” before nibbling on or pulling on their nipple. While some people really enjoy rough breast play, others do not, and you don’t want to interrupt your good time or theirs by crossing that line without their consent.
6) Check in before you bounce, jiggle, honk, or slap.
Not everyone is into rougher breast play, but some people are! If you and your partner are both into slapping breasts, honking them, jiggling them, or even biting them, that’s completely normal and OK. Just be sure you ask first and communicate before jumping in and doing whatever you want (this goes for any sexual activity, BTW.) If you’re unsure how they’re feeling about something during sex, just say, “Is it OK if I do X?” or “Would you like it if I did X Thing?” Use your words to ensure everyone is down to clown in Tittie Town.
7) Different types of breasts enjoy different things.
In a study conducted at the University of Vienna, researchers found that large breasts were about 24% less sensitive than small ones. “This is probably because the nerve that transmits sensation from the nipple is stretched,” says Alan Matarasso, M.D., a plastic surgeon in New York City. So if your partner has larger breasts, you may want to spend more time stimulating the outer sides of their breasts, just below the armpits, with your tongue or fingertips.
Similarly, if your partner is pregnant, nursing, or on their period, their nipples will be tender. (And this is assuming that your partner wants you to play with their breasts at all—many people with boobs do not, particularly if they’re breastfeeding.) Focus on your partner’s underboob, which is a frequently neglected area, and gently cup and support their breasts.
8) Bring nipple clamps or suckers into the mix.
If you’re into accessories, take your breast and nipple play to the next level by using nipple clamps or suction devices. These toys provide a different, more intense sensation than simply caressing or pinching your partner’s nipples with your own hands. Nipple clamps also allow for consistent nipple stimulation. Your partner can wear them the entire time you’re having sex, freeing up your hands to touch other parts of their body.
9) Get the clitoris involved because the nips and clit are Blends with Benefits.
See what we did there? Please don’t stop reading because of the terrible puns. The clitoris deserves its MOMENT. Somewhere in the 85-95% range of all people who own a clitoris need external clit stimulation in order to have an orgasm. So, if you’re trying to deliver on a nipple orgasm, stick it in the blender and combine nipple play with stimulation of the external clitoris for a sweet blended orgasm.
Stimulate your partner’s nipples gently with your fingertips or tongue. You can increase sensation as you move along and they become more aroused. Then, add in stimulation of the clitoris, either with hands, mouth, or a sex toy. It’s really that simple. Don’t forget to communicate to make sure they’re loving it!
10) Play with temperature.
Feeling something cold or hot on certain areas of the body can send a shock through the system, especially when those body parts are extra-sensitive, like the nipples. It’s something we’re not expecting, and experiencing that level of surprise increases blood flow and heart rate.
When it comes to temperature play on the breasts, run a cold (or hot) object around their nipples, and then over each one. You don’t need a ton of equipment. Simply grab an ice cube from the freezer and have at it. Try holding the ice cube in your mouth and use it to draw circles around the areola. Now, combine all this with some stimulation of the clitoris and you might be in a R-I-D-E. (To deliver a surprising warm sensation, you could take a sip of hot tea before gently sucking on their nips.)
To make this extra kinky, you can gently restrain your partner. If you don’t have handcuffs or other restraints, simply use a T-shirt or neck tie to bind their wrists above their head. Have some safety scissors nearby, just in case.
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