For those of us not acquainted with nipple clamps, they can be kind of an intimidating venture into Sex Toy Landia. What are nipple clamps? Why do people wear them? What will they do for me? When do I wear them? How do I wear them?
Dr. Carol Queen, PhD and resident sexpert at Good Vibrations, explains that the purpose of a nipple clamp is twofold. The clamp can be used to squeeze or pinch nipples for an intense sensation and secondly, clamps are also very useful for hands-free nipple play. Sure, you could pinch your partner's nipples all night long, but you could also do so much more with a free hand. As for why nipples? Lisa Finn, Brand Manager and Sex Educator at Babeland, explains that nipple clamps work similarly to penis rings. When you clamp the nipple or use a penis ring, "blood gets trapped into that tissue making it super sensitive to the touch."
"They can be used during solo or partner sex and are especially identified with BDSM and kink, since they can cause fairly intense sensation," Queen explains. While the sensation of clamps might be deemed "painful" to some, other people into BDSM would actually find the sensation "exciting and intense" and not painful at all. Of course, there are levels to the sensation of clamps, and there are many clamps that can be adjusted to your needs or limits.
As for the hands-free part, some clamps come with chains that can attach to collars or other bondage accessories for even more sensation. "There are [also] clamps that are blingy and jeweled, which makes them a type of intense budoir accessory or exhibitionist plaything," Queen says. Some of these more complicated clamps will include a "Y-chain" with a third clamp meant for use on the clitoris or foreskin.
When choosing a clamp, Queen says you want to take into account two criteria: how big your nipples are, and how much pressure you enjoy. "Some clamps cover a wider surface area and might be preferred by people with bigger nipples," Queen explains. The size of the clamps also affect sensitivity. "Thin or small tips on clamps focus the pressure down to one small spot instead of spreading it out." For clamp newbies, Queen recommends trying as many different types of clamps as possible before deciding what feels best. Your arousal level also matters when picking a clamp, as Queen notes that you may find you enjoy different clamps during different stages of your arousal.
For the newbie:
These bestselling tweezer clamps are a hit at Good Vibrations. The "tweezer" on each end is tipped in rubber for comfort (you can find pain to be pleasurable but open scratches and cuts usually are best avoided) and there's a slider on each clamp that allows you to adjust the tightness of each clamp.
Shop Now Tweezer Clamps, GOOD VIBRATIONS, $18
A no-frills alligator clamp:
These rubber-lined alligator clamps have an adjustable screw to change the amount of pressure on the nipple. The chain is also weighted so you feel extra sensitive with every move you make.
Shop Now Alligator Clamps, FETISH FANTASY (Available on Amazon), $6
A tickling alligator clamp:
The feather on these clamps isn't purely for decorative purposes, but is actually functional. Lisa Finn of Babeland explains, "Adding in other sensations like tickling the nipples with a feather, licking them, or teasing them between lubed-up fingers can feel much more intense when paired with the use of clamps." If you're not sure about the weight of a chain, the feathers can be just as an erotic experience.
Shop Now Adjustable Nipple Clamps, BABELAND, $18
For a nipple clamp and clit clamp chain combo:
This rose-gold chain is part of the Fifty Shades Freed line, and includes delicate weighted balls on each of the nipple and clit clamps for extra weight. The nipple clamps are tipped in soft purple silicone for extra comfort too.
Shop Now Fifty Shades Freed Nipple and Clitoral Chain, LOVEHONEY, $30
For a non-metal nipple clamp:
This nipple "clamp" is actually made up of an adjustable string that hooks onto each nipple. There's a weighted chain in between each loop so you'll still get the sensation of weight and tension, but for those who don't want a metal clip, this is a good option. This particular set also comes with a separate clit clamp with weighted balls for extra sensation.
Shop Now Clit and Nipple Clamp, FETISH FANTASY (Available at Lovehoney), $15
For something similar in sensation that's not a "clamp":
These nipple suckers are not exactly "clamps" but as Queen explains, they do employ similar sensations. The twist mechanism creates a suction on your nipple (or anywhere else you'd like suction) for hands-free sensation. No batteries required!
Shop Now Vacuum Twist Suckers, CAL EXOTICS (Available at Good Vibrations), $16
For nipple clamps that vibrate:
These silicone coated clamps feature a pinchless toggle so you're held in place while each tiny-but-powerful vibrator does its magic.
Shop Now Fifty Shades of Grey Vibrating Nipple Clamps, LOVEHONEY, $25
For a heavy-duty nipple clamp:
Finn says that these dense metal clamps "tug on the nipple with its weight, adding a sensation of pulling as well as tension on the sensitive tissue." The screw-on functionality means you can also adjust each screw for a perfect fit, and accidentally snapping the clamps shut too fast is basically impossible.
Shop Now Rings of Fire Nipple Press Set, BABELAND, $48
For the BDSM expert:
The unique design of the Clover Clamps means the more you tug on the chain, the tighter the clamp gets. These clamps are non-adjustable so you probably shouldn't buy them if you're just dipping your toe into the water or have limited experience with nipple clamps.
Shop Now Clover Clamps, BABELAND, $26
If you're using the clamps with a partner, make sure to get their consent and establish a safe word. Since clamps can cause a bit of pain, extra care and attention to your partner's needs are especially important. You can try placing the "jaws" of the clamp on the nipple or behind the nipple (on the areola) for different sensations. Finn recommends starting with the clamps at the back of the nipple (against the areola) since pinching the tip of your nipple right out the gate may be too painful at first. And despite the name, you never want to suddenly clamp the jaws shut! "Determine where you want the pressure to be, then slowly close the clamp," Queen explains. Once it's on, you can always adjust the tension accordingly. You can also try adding stimulation like kissing or sucking on your partner's nipples while the clamps are attached (be careful not to chip your teeth though, because your partner bucking in ecstasy + cold metal + teeth is a trip to the dentist you probably want to avoid if possible.)
Queen recommends waiting until you're thoroughly aroused before applying the clamps. The reason, she explains, is because "arousal helps mediate pain and for many, this helps the sensation feel pleasurable." Of course, not everyone will be a fan of nipple clamps, even when experienced at peak arousal etc. "Some people won't like it regardless, and this is not a toy that everyone absolutely *must* get into," Queen says. "Clamps are not everyone's cup of tea, and a beginner, especially, may need to build up tolerance for keeping them on for a while," Just make sure you're not wearing them for longer than 20 minutes at a time. Since the toys affect blood flow, you don't want to wear them long term.
Thankfully, the fun doesn't necessarily stop when the clamps come off. Queen explains that when you remove the clamps and the blood starts rushing back to the nerves, it can be an even stronger sensation than when you first put them on. Damn! Pretty neat for a sex toy that doesn't even require batteries.
Follow Carina on Twitter.