Dear MKE SEX,

What’s the scoop on nipple clamps? I’m really into breast and nipple play. Now that my years of being a pregnant or lactating mama are behind me, I want to try new (and more intense) things. I’ve been interested in trying out clamps for a few years, but I’m unsure about a few things. For instance, are they bad for the nipple? I like to experiment, but I don’t want to damage myself permanently. And there are so many kinds! What kind is good for a beginner? What are some things I should watch out for in terms of nipple play?

Thanks,
Tits Up!

Dear Tits Up,

For people who like both nipple play and intensity, nipple clamps can be really fun. Nipples and areolas (the darker circles that surrounds them) are dense in nerve endings, making them more sensitive than most other parts of your body. Interestingly, they are also more durable since they are designed to withstand the potential trauma of a newborn baby latching on and suckling. And, intimate contact with the nipples and areolas causes an immediate spike in oxytocin production. Since oxytocin is the hormone responsible for orgasm (and a million other things related to sex and reproduction), this boost can be both very helpful and a lot of fun.

The kind of sensation you get from clamps depends on a lot of things, including placement. If you put the clamps directly on the nipple, it will probably feel like pinching or even biting. If you place them behind the nipple, on the areola, the clamps will help the nipple swell pretty significantly as blood enters the nipple but doesn’t leave as quickly. This swelling causes the nipple to darken in color and an increase in sensitivity, and any contact with the nipple is more intense than usual. Your nipples should return their regular color pretty quickly after the clamps are removed.

When shopping for your first set of nipple clamps, you’ll want to look for a design that’s adjustable. Until you’ve got the clamps on, it’s hard to know if you’ll want something that just holds the nipple out and forward, if you want something that is going to provide a lot of intense sensation. The tweezer style clamps can be great for this because they’re very easy to tighten and loosen. They also open wide enough to accommodate a very wide range of nipple sizes. Broad tip clamps are great for beginners who like the look and function of clamp with a set screw to adjust the intensity. Sometimes clamps are attached to each other with chains. This is more than an aesthetic addition. It allows you or your partner to gently (or not so gently) tug on the chain, further intensifying the sensation on the clamped nipples.

When you’re first trying out clamps, don’t leave them on for more than 20 minutes at a time to see how your body reacts in the moment and afterwards. Following your adventure with clamps, your nipples may feel a little extra sensitive or raw. Bruising from typical clamp use is not common, but also not impossible. Some people really like the look and feel of bruises, while other people really do not! More tugging and pulling on the clamps increases the likelihood of bruising, as does intense pulling, sucking, and spanking of the breasts while wearing clamps. Bruises on the nipples and areolas heal up pretty quickly, and do not indicate any kind of long term damage.

Like a lot of things, I think it can be great to try nipple clamps by yourself the first time to see whether it’s something you enjoy. This kind of solo experimentation can alleviate a lot of the pressure we feel to respond in a particular way when we’re with our partners. If you don’t like it, you just quietly put the clamps away. But if you do, you can tell your partner all about your experience and discuss using them together.

(A safety note: People who are pregnant or lactating will want to be careful about wearing clamps for a prolonged period of time because constant pressure in one spot anywhere on the breast tissue can cause mastitis. And clamps should probably be avoided completely in the first two months postpartum because of this.)

Curious about cunnilingus? Anxious about anal? Do you have questions about queefs or problems with your prostate? Lucky Tomaszek is the education coordinator at The Tool Shed: An Erotic Boutique, Milwaukee’s only mission-driven, education-focused sex toy store. Send her an email at mkesex@gmail.com and she’ll get back to you with an answer.

About The Author

Lucky Tomaszek
Contributor

Lucky Tomaszek, LM, CPM, is the education coordinator at The Tool Shed: An Erotic Boutique, Milwaukee's only mission-driven, education-focused sex toy store. Most mornings you can find her balancing her cat and her keyboard in her lap, working to make the world a smarter, safer place for people of all genders and orientations.

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