"Don’t undermine the power of nipple play," says Tatyannah King, a sex educator and sex coach with Blex Technologies, a sexual wellness company dedicated to the Black community. "A 2011 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine indicates that nipple stimulation activates the same areas of the brain as stimulation of the clitoris and vagina." The study aimed to map out and compare sensory responses to clitoral, vaginal, cervical, and nipple self-stimulation, and results showed nipple stimulation correlated with both superficial sensation quality and a mentally erotic association.
"This may be attributable to the fact that the genital sensory cortex, which is the same region impacted by stimulation of the vagina and clitoris, is activated through nipple play," says Jess O’Reilly, PhD, sexologist and host of the @SexWithDrJess podcast. "Scientists hypothesize that these shared neurons release oxytocin, which induces pleasure, relaxation, and spikes to peak levels just before orgasm." Likewise, this could be why some extremely lucky people can actually have a breast orgasm.
But the first rule of successful breast play? Don't neglect the areas around your areola. "Many folks actually pinpoint the area right above the areola as the most responsive to sexual touch," Dr. O'Reilly says. "And the breasts temporarily change in size and sensitivity as arousal increases, so experiment to see how different strokes feel during both the early and later stages of arousal."
Ready to learn more about how to play with boobs to a titillating effect? Below, three sexperts share their breast advice (couldn't help it) when it comes to breast play.
How to play with boobs during partnered and solo sex for added pleasure
1. Warm up your body first
"Making sure your partner's body is ready to receive stimulation is the key to titillating nipple play, especially since the nipples can be a sensitive erogenous zone," says sexologist Shamyra Howard, LCSW. "Start with a scalp massage to stimulate blood flow throughout the body."
From there, you can move on down, paying attention to the neck, the shoulders, and the collarbone. And hey, maybe even bring up the heat another way: A warming massage candle could be a worthwhile companion to many of the following techniques.
Shop Now: Maude Burn No. 1 Massage Candle, $25
2. Take your time
Resist the temptation to dive right in and arouse yourself with some delayed gratification.
"Hover your warm palms over breasts to tease and build anticipation," says Dr. O'Reilly. "Take your time brushing gently and casually up against the sides of the breasts, and the folds beneath them so that they’re aching for you to wrap your full hands right around them."
3. Use circular motion
"Lightly massage your partner’s breasts and areola with large, circular yet gentle strokes," says King. "You can also squeeze the entire breast to [heighen] anticipation and mix up the tempo."
4. Trace a swirl from the outside, in
"Trace the tip of your finger from the outer edges of the breast, and slowly circle your way to the center," says Dr. O'Reilly. "Don’t rush—enjoy every moment, sensation, texture, and contour along the way."
5. Use your palms...and your nightstand goodies
"Open your hand and caress the nipples with the palms of your hands instead of using fingertips. Create circular and up and down motions," says Howard. "Think: wax on, wax off, but in a more sensual way. For added pleasure and comfort, add a small amount of lube or moisturizer to your hand before you begin."
I can't get enough of Anoint: Nourishing Body Oil ($75) right now for the purpose of a truly wonderful full-bodied breast massage. I also love Coconu, which features an all-natural and multipurpose formula.
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6. Increase the tempo
"Rub nipples with your fingers, slowly at first, because nerve endings in areolas make them sensitive to touch," King says. "Then gradually increase your speed and pressure as your partner becomes more aroused."
7. Cool things down
When in doubt (or when the AC is busted), you can't go wrong with temperature play. All you need is something frosty-cool to sip or suck on before you send serious shivers down someone's spine...and elsewhere.
"Put ice in your mouth before sucking on your partner’s nipples to send chills throughout their body," says King. "Afterward, suck their nipple into your mouth and mimic a vacuum suction to stimulate extra blood flow and increase overall sensitivity."
Playing alone? Swirling an ice cube in-hand is a good DIY option. Or, if you want something that gives a fresh breath of coolness without turning your tits into icicles, I really love Ice Cream by Sweet Vibes, a tingling menthol balm that increases sensitivity.
Shop Now: Ice Cream by Sweet Vibes, $12
8. Use your tongue
This technique probably works best on someone else, because, well…it's tough to lick your own breasts. "Twirl your tongue around the areola, avoiding the nipple for a minute before sucking the whole thing into your mouth," Dr. O'Reilly says.
9. Use your breath
Sometimes your breath is the hidden hack to upgrade your orgasm. "Lick with a flat, wide tongue to create wet spots, and then open your mouth and breathe warm air over them," says Howard. "Alternate with cool air by pursing your lips."
10. Put the nose to work
"The tip of the nose provides electrifying sensations throughout the body," says Howard. "Just rub the tip of your nose over the breast and nipple as you would do if it were your tongue. Explore different ways to increase pressure. Add different sensations by alternating between breathing and blowing air through your nose and mouth, onto your partner's breasts."
11. And finally, try experimenting with sex toys
Though air-pulsation sex toys replicate sucking motions and rhythms designed to stimulate the clitoris, these toys can also provide sensations that will be equally pleasing to the nipples.
"If you’re looking to explore a hands-free breast orgasm, consider using a toy like the Womanizer Premium or Womanizer Liberty, which use tiny changes in air pressure to create a really unique sensation," says Dr. O'Reilly. "I’d describe it as a cross between sucking, licking, and kissing."
Shop Now: Womanizer Liberty, $99
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