Our nipples, like the rest of our bodies, are far more diverse than you might expect based on what you get to see of nipples in the world. Most of us have a nipple or two (some of us have three, or more) but we certainly don't all have the same nipples, or the same relationship to our nipples. Some of us may have nipples we've never felt, or never liked. Some of us may have nipples as adults that have changed dramatically from the way they were when we were younger (maybe because of surgery, or age, or life experience).
Regardless of how many you have, or what they look or feel like, your nipples and the nipples of people you want to have sex with can be sources of sexual pleasure. Once you know that nipples are part of the erotic landscape to be discovered, here are some tips on nipple stimulation to pique your interest.
Know About the Nipple
Every nipple is unique, but before you explore the nipple, learn the basics of breast anatomy. The nipple is not an island, it's connected to the breast and chest (body parts that people of all genders have, albeit some are bigger and more sensitive than others). The main three zones to consider are the breast, the areola, which is the area around the nipple, and the nipple itself. Each of these areas will feel a bit different to the touch and each has different kinds of sensation, and will respond to different kinds of stimulation.
Nipples Can Be More Than Nipples
For people of all genders, but probably more for folks who are treated as women, breasts and nipples can carry a lot of personal and social meaning. They are a part of the body that is subject to a lot of unwanted attention and ridicule and we can carry in them a lot of worry around health (e.g. concerns about breast cancer), fertility (e.g. questions about whether someone will be able to conceive and one day breastfeed), and sexual desirability (e.g. are they the right size and shape, are they sensitive enough but not over sensitive). For these reasons it's worthwhile to find out a bit about the nipples you are touching before you touch them.
Some people love having their nipples stimulated, others won't want you near them. You may want to ask (e.g. "are there parts of your body you love having touched and parts that you don't like people touching?") but if that kind of verbal communication doesn't work for you, try to be sensitive to it as you explore a new partner's body. If you notice them tensing up or flinching or seeming bored when you are stimulating their nipples or breasts, take note, and maybe move on, or ask.
Breathe Before You Touch
While some people like very aggressive nipple stimulation (see below) it's always a good idea to start off slow and gentle. You don't even need to start off with touch. If you can use your mouth to blow across your partners nipples, start by playing with your breath. You can blow hard through pursed lips to create a cool breeze, or get even closer and breathe open mouthed, which creates a warm breath. Many nipples are highly sensitive to both touch and temperature, so as you are exploring try to notice how both your partner and their nipples are responding.
Exploring Nipples with Touch
Think about a part of your body that gives you the most immediate feedback, and that may be the best part to start exploring nipples with. For some people that will be their fingers, for others it might be their lips or tongue, and for someone else it might be another body part. Whatever you are using, start off with gentle touch. Starting gently can give the body time to rise up to the stimulation. There are almost infinite ways to touch, but the key is to build up in both speed of stimulation and pressure.
From the Outside In
One way to start is to begin far from the nipple and move inwards. Notice how the different skin feels, from the breast to the areola to the nipple. Gently apply pressure and notice how different parts of the body feel under the skin. You can use a kind of circular motion or if you are using your hand and fingers you can splay your hand out gently across the breast and then bring your fingers together so that by the time your fingertips come together they are at the nipple. You can massage around the nipple, teasing the area and not touching it at all, creating much more stimulation around it before zeroing in on it. The area is sensitive, so touch from your finger tips will feel very different than touch from the back of your hand, or your knuckles, or your elbow. If your partner likes the circular motion you can change it up by going from wide circles with a slow movement to much tighter circles with a faster stimulation.
Once you've got to the nipple you can hold it between two fingers or some other way and apply gentle pressure to it while rolling it back and forth. There's no one way to do it, so experimentation, and paying attention to what's working for your partner, is the way to go.
From the Inside Out
If you already know your partner likes their nipples stimulated, you can also start with the nipple. Come at it from above and gently begin to rub or run circles around the nipple. Then you can spread out your stimulation, around the areola and then the chest. Or you can just start with the tip of your finger on the nipple and without taking your finger off the nipple move your hand so that you create a kind of pointed vibrating feeling.
Lips and Tongue
Following the idea of starting slow and building up, begin just by brushing your closed lips across the nipple. You can slowly open your lips so the nipples come into contact with your open mouth and at some point introduce your tongue. Try using your tongue to play with the nipple (either working from the outside in, or from the inside out). Play with circular and lapping motions, each will feel different for your partner, as the flat surface of your tongue has a distinct texture from the tip.
Are Teeth Allowed?
If you know your partner likes more intense stimulation, or you suspect they might, you can use your teeth, cautiously at first. Don't bite down quickly or hard, but if you want to explore it, start by simply putting the nipple gently between your teeth and leaving it there, using your tongue to stimulate the nipple, but not creating much pressure at all with your teeth. The anticipation will be thrilling for some (and do nothing for others). Once you have permission, nibbling and even biting may be something your partner wants. You can also create a sucking sensation with your mouth. This will be something some people like and others don't. Don't assume that based on someone's history or possible future with breastfeeding that you can tell whether this will be something pleasurable and desired. As with anything, when in doubt, ask.
Play With Temperature
Nipples can be very sensitive to changes in temperature, and, as many classic soft core feature films have demonstrated, playing with temperature (be it ice cubes for cold, or plain white candles dripping wax, for heat) is another way of taking nipple stimulation to a deeper, or more intense level. Ice will have a numbing effect, so introduce it slowly, and if you don't want numbness to set in right away, don't apply ice for more than a few seconds without moving it away. Hot wax can be perfectly safe (it's all about the wax, not about the flame). You can buy special candles which melt at a lower temperature (and therefore won't burn) but most plain white candles are okay too. Test it out on yourself first for safety. If you want to know more, there's an entire book (albeit it a short one) all about wax and temperature play ().
The nipples may be packed with nerve endings, and the most sensitive part of someone's chest, but they can take a lot of stimulation, and some people find that they really enjoy the sensation of having their nipples pinched. This is not the kind of pinching you do as a child, a quick and unexpected grab of a small piece of flesh that surprises and hurts. Pinching nipples is a finer art. It's important first to know that this is something the nipple owner is going to like. If you're not comfortable asking verbally you can always test the waters by taking a nipple between your fingers (often easiest when it's your thumb and forefinger) and squeezing gently and holding.
Don't pinch and release. There may be some who like that, but for most that will be painful in an unpleasant way. Once you've got the nipple in between your fingers, apply pressure and hold. If they seem to like it, you can apply a bit more pressure, and again hold. As you're doing this, you are pushing blood out of the nipple. When you let go, the blood will rush back into the nipple and create an intense sensation which some people love. If you release the nipple slowly, it creates one kind of stimulation. If you release it quickly, it creates a different kind of stimulation. There's no right or wrong, just be sure that you are getting a lot of feedback from your partner so you know what's working and what isn't.
People who discover they like the feeling of having their nipples pinched, or enjoy other kinds of intense nipple stimulation, may want to explore nipple clamps. These are sex toys designed to fit on, over, or around the nipple and create different kinds of stimulation. Nipple clamps can be used alone or with a partner, and depending on the way they attach to the nipple, and whether or not the two nipple clamps are connected, there are opportunities for controlling the nipple stimulation with the clamps. There are also vibrating nipple clamps, which have the added benefit of being able to clamp on other parts of the body.