Ever get a little lift out of having your nipples bitten or pinched? Then you’re going to love nipple clamps. While terms like “alligator nipple clamps” might seem a little intense at first blush, the truth is you get to be in control of exactly how much tightness you get into. After all, tight is might. ;)
Much like things like anal beads, you can use nipple clamps when you’re flying solo or when with a partner. According to certified sex therapist Dr. Janet Brito, nipple clamps “intentionally promote pleasurable sexual stimulation.” In other words, they can generate a boost in endorphins that upgrades an orgasm to Super Size.
By the way, nipple clamps are for everyone. According to Sadie Allison, PhD, author of Tickle Your Fancy – A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Self-Pleasure, nipples are an equal opportunity erogenous zone — men, women, non-binary folks, and everyone in between are invited to this party. Nipples aren’t more or less sensitive based on your selected sex or gender; they’ve all got the same number of titillating nerve endings in them.
This is particularly good to know since culturally we usually think of nipples as a female-bodied thing. As Dr. Allison puts it, “For some cis-men, nipple play is an extremely pleasurable and preferred type of stimulation. For others, they may have overlooked this erogenous zone altogether, so it’s worth an introduction.”
What do nipple clamps do?
Nipple clamps aren’t very complicated; they basically do exactly what they sound like — provide a little squeeze and maybe a bit of pull to the nipples, depending on how devious the device is. Nipple clamps function by reducing the amount of blood flow able to get to the nipples, causing a combination of numbness, pain, and sexual pleasure all mixed together.
It’s also worth noting that nipple clamps can be used on other body parts. (Did somebody say “clitoris”? Maybe in combination with some anal sex toys?) They’re also great if you already know your partner is into nipple play, and you want to be hands-free while still giving them that good nip-pinching action.
According to Babeland co-founder Claire Cavanah, “Nipples on all bodies can be very sensitive, and just like all bodies are different, so are reactions to nipple stimulation.” Plus, check this out — while putting on nipple clamps is exciting, Cavanah says that “[i]t’s when you take them off that the sensation peaks. By restricting blood flow and then releasing it, you get a sharp rush of pain and endorphins.”
Types of nipple clamps
In a pinch, a lot of things can be used as nipple clamps: clothespins, butterfly clamps, rubber bands, and wood or metal chopsticks, fingers … so many possibilities. That said, if you’re new to using nipple clamps, using purpose-built clamps or dedicated nipple sex toys is recommended. (Purpose-built just means ones that were built for the sexy and explicit purpose of pinching nips.)
By the way, if you’re wondering, are nipple clamps safe?. They are, as long as they’re used properly.
Purpose-built nipple clamps have the added benefit of being built especially for clamping, making it easier to put them on and take them off, as well as adjust the amount of pressure being applied. Here are some of the best nipple clamps for beginners in the biz:
The most common type of nipple clamps are crocodile/alligator clamps, which apply pressure with a twist screw. This type of adjustable nipple clamp is versatile and able to be paired with other forms of BDSM play, such as the collar or ball gag. They can also be a bit more on the sensual side, with fun feather attachments to be used in sensation play.
Tweezer nipple clamps
Another common type of nipple clamps consists of two long bars that angle slightly outwards, with a ring over the two bars and a grabby, rubber tip, or silicone tip end. Simply slide the adjustable clamp to ramp the tightness up or down.
Magnetic nipple clamps are also a thing, with the pinching pressure action being created through the power of magic and rare earth. These clamps can be a little harder to adjust the strength, depending on the power of the magnets and whether or not they include some sort of pinching-pressure changing mechanism.
How do nipple suckers work? While nipple suction devices (also known as nipple suckers) aren’t clamps specifically, they fall into the nipple play category. These devices stay on the nipples from the suction, with a plunger of some kind that sucks the nipple up into the tube. Pull the plunger a little more, and increase the pressure and suction on the nipples.
High-tech nipple clamps
Feel like bringing some techno gadgetry into your nipple pressure endeavors? There are also heated nipple clamps, as well as vibrating nipple clamps to let the sensations run wild. If those two are too high-tech, you could go with something simpler, like a stainless steel clothespin clamp. Why is this fancy? Because you can add in other sensations by heating or cooling them before applying (don’t go crazy with this; burnt nipples are an opt-in request).
If you’re feeling a little lucky and maybe that sadomasochism side is coming to life, the clover clamp could be the right addition to your power play/sexual play. These nipple toys have a unique design that, when pulled, tightens the clamps. Commonly connected within a chain, pulling down on the chain creates additional pressure on whatever’s trapped inside, creating an intense sensation.
If you want your clamps to harken back to the era of early calculators, you can go with an abacus clamp. This devious invention consists of two side-by-side bars with rings/beads on either side, covering both bars. The bars are separated, the nipple is inserted through them, then the pressure is ramped up by scooting the rings closer to the center. This forces the bars to try to revert to their original side-by-side position, thus creating the desired squeeze and pinch.
With any of the above, the clips can be easily combined with some sort of BDSM gear if they’ve got a loop to attach through. For example, maybe you’re the proud owner of both nipple clamps and a cock ring, and you want to attach them all with a chain so that when the chain is tugged, everything is tugged. You could do that — it’s within your power.
As with all types of adult sex toys, materials matter. People with sensitive skin should try and avoid toys with nickel in them so that they don’t react to the metal clamp. Silicone-covered clamps are a nice touch and a little more new-user-friendly because they’re softer, while still able to get to a high level of pinch if desired.
How to use nipple clamps
Wondering what the best nipple clamps are for you? There’s only one way to find out — try some out! The truth is, sexual arousal is intensely personal, and whether you’re playing with chastity devices, a rabbit vibe, or a pair of nipple clamps, erotic experimentation is where it’s at.
That said, some sexperts do recommend that if you’re a beginner, you start with a silicone option because it’s soft and easy. Others say alligator clamps are the way to go. If you’re thinking you might be interested in nipple clampin’, try them solo to get a feel for the range of sensations they’re able to provide.
Now, before you grab clips and go to sexy town, you want to make sure you’re at least a little turned on. In the words of clinical sexologist Dr. Valerie Poppel, PhD, “First, get the skin nice and warm. Long-lasting foreplay is essential … Massage the breast tissue (including the nipples), then softly begin to squeeze, suck, and worship the nipples.”
If you’re doing this with your boo, once your partner is all warmed up, have them take a breath and then apply the clamps. Then have them exhale. It might take a moment or two for the nipples to respond, so just keep going with the stimulation game. Then, when your partner is right on the edge of orgasm, release the Kraken! (let go of the clamps). This will not only allow blood to rush back into the nips, but it’ll stimulate the release of oxytocin, which boosts that big O into an OOO.
If you’re wondering about duration, you’re not the only one. Sexpert Polly Rodriguez recommends not leaving clamps on for more than 15-20 minutes. She adds that beginners should seek out “a pair that comes with an adjuster so you can ease your way into the level of pressure that feels right for you.”
By the way, it’s okay to use nipple clamps on pierced nipples as long as they’ve had ample time to heal. Weights or chains can also be applied directly to nipple piercings, but do so with caution; the point of the play is to evoke feelings of power and pleasure/pain sensations, not mar or damage the tissue.
Remember, too, that a clamp that hurts even a little bit before you climax is likely to be quite painful afterwards, so you really want to know how to un-clamp them before you get all the way over the finish line. It’s also important to know that nipple clamps can cause scarring if used too often or too intensely. Give nips plenty of time to recover from high-intensity action!
According to Carol Queen, PhD, staff sexologist for Good Vibrations, clamps are perfect when you want some of that hands-free nipple play. If you know nipple action is stimulating to your partner and you’ve got a pair on hand, you can have them taken care of in that arena while you focus on other things … like oral sex, baby.
At this point, you might be wondering why, if they’re so scintillating and effective, why nipple clamps aren’t more popular. Well, according to Sandra LaMorgese, PhD, dominatrix and CEO of Attainment Studios, the term itself is more taboo than makes most people comfortable:
“It’s incredibly direct and unabashed—nothing like the vague sexual euphemisms we can get away with in casual conversation,” she states. “It’s associated with pain, and many people are still uncomfortable (on the surface, at least) with the idea of there being any connections between pleasure and pain. It goes against our society’s traditional ideas of what sexuality should feel like and involve, so people are hesitant to talk about it.”
But you know us — we’re not hesitant to talk about anything. ;) In fact, we’re nipping at your heels to open up even more about sex, pleasure, satisfaction, and everything in between.