Ah, nipples. They've been part of pop culture for years now: Rihanna proudly flaunting hers; The Bold Type touching on the #FreeTheNipple movement; talks of Harry Styles illusive third nipple; and Kendall Jenner (amongst a slew of other celebs) using hers as a statement piece. But nipples aren't just powerful political tools or fashion accessories, they're also hot spots for pleasure and an often under-appreciated erogenous zone.
There are hundreds of nerve endings on a person's nipple, which makes them extremely sensitive to the touch and susceptible to pleasure, explains Shannon Chavez, PsyD, a certified clinical sexologist. Research has shown that nipple stimulation can mimic the same action and chemical response in the brain that's caused by genital stimulation. "In light of this, it is not at all surprising that many people are aroused by having their nipples touched, and with the right stimulation, it can lead to orgasm," Dr. Chavez says. And even if you can't orgasm from nipple stimulation, it's still a fun way to explore different parts of you or your partner's body.
It's important to note that, while everyone who has nipples has the same number of sensitive nerve endings on them, not everyone is down for nipple play, says Sadie Allison, PhD, AASECT-certified sexologist. Make sure that your partner consents before you jump in, because everyone is different, and they might have certain sensitivities about their nipples that you weren't aware of.
Ahead are some ideas and tips for stimulating the nips, from Dr. Allison and Dr. Chavez.