A pair of nipple clamps can feel like the hottest thing on the planet, particularly if you’re using them for pleasure with a partner. These little devices pinch the nipples and restrict blood flow to create a painful (but pleasurable) sensation, says Galen Fous, a kink-positive sex therapist and fetish sex educator. You can experiment with the pressure by adjusting the nipple clamps, which usually have a screw that tightens and loosens them. Start with a low pressure to get comfortable, then gradually increase it to find the perfect level of intensity for you. If you aren’t sure how much pressure is too much, try a set with a chain so you can test them out on other parts of your body before using them on the nipples (like your earlobes or the web between your pointer finger and thumb).
Nipple clamps are a popular toy for those who enjoy kinky breast stimulation, but they can also be used to play with other erogenous zones—like the clit and penis. Some nipple clamps have a tweezer-like texture, which makes them perfect for a clitoral toy, and some double as a clitoral stimulator. Adding ice or heat to the nipple area while nipple clamps are latched on can also increase intensity and make for a great sensual experience.
One of the best things about nipple clamps is that they are hands-free, so you can use them while playing with other areas of your body—or even with your partner. Many nipple clamps have nipple chains, which make them ideal for predicament bondage, where the submissive is restrained in a position that puts them in one of two equally uncomfortable positions. If you want to go all out, try a nipple clamp with a weighted base or a chain that attaches to the collarbone.
When it’s time to take off the nipple clamps, exhale as you do so to let the restricted blood rush back into the nipples and release oxytocin, which will intensify the sensation for a while after. It’s also a good idea to check in with your partner about how the clamps make them feel, and communicate a safe word or other safety measure for when the pressure gets too much.
Nipple clamps can be worn for up to 30 minutes, but you should take them off as soon as you or your partner are on the brink of an orgasm, advises Dr. Allison Finn. “Leaving them on longer than that can cause bruising, swelling, and permanent restriction of blood flow,” she adds. If you’re comfortable with the clamps, you can wear them for longer and also try using them on other parts of the body, such as the clit, the inner thighs, or the penis, says Sparks.