Consider this your beginner's guide to nipple clamps.
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Nipple Clamps
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If you're intrigued by BDSM or just want to make your sex life feel a little less vanilla, then it might be time for you to become acquainted with nipple clamps. While the sexcessory might seem a bit intimidating to beginners, nipple clamps can be a great tool to enhance sensation and pleasure, wherever you happen to fall on the kink spectrum.

First thing's first: Nipple clamps are simply clamps used to pinch or squeeze the nipple. They work by restricting the blood flow to the nipple, creating a really unique feeling described by

How do they work? By restricting the blood flow to the nipple, it creates a really unique feeling described by gynecologist and women's sexual health expert Monica Grover, as "numb-meets-pleasurable-meets-painful." I couldn't agree more. 

Some folks love the feeling of wearing nipple clamps, while others prefer the feel of taking them off. Then, there are those folks who enjoy using them on their partner(s) or simply enjoy how they look. (An important note here is that a nipple clamp can be anything from a clothespin to a gorgeous piece of jewelry.) In other words, how you choose to incorporate them into your sex life is entirely up to you. And hey, if you or your partner just aren't that into having your nipples stimulated, that's OK too!

While incredibly simple in concept, there's more to it than just clipping on some clamps and going to town. To be as safe and get the most pleasure possible, there are a few things you need to know about how to use nipple clamps.

Choose the right nipple clamp for you.

There are many different types of nipple clamps out there, and if this is your first venture into nipple clamp land, I highly recommend getting adjustable ones. This way, you can make the pinching as light or intense as you want it. 

Another important thing to note: not all nipple clamps are created equal! For example, bare metal clamps are a lot more intense than nipple clamps that have a silicone cover on the tip. Additionally, folks with more sensitive skin will want to make sure that the materials are nickel-free. You may hear terms like tweezer, alligator, clover, magnetic, or vibrating to describe different nipple clamps (my favorites listed below!) — so make sure to read up on each to ensure it isn't too intense for your first time.

Warm up the area first.

Okay, so you know you want to use them, you have some in your hands — what's next? Prep the area! Similar to the genitals, it's essential to stimulate the nipples before pinching them with the clamps. You can touch the whole breast, suck on the nipples themselves, squeeze around a little bit and wait until you feel a bit aroused. Then, take a deep breath and close the clamps slowly, while breathing in. You can put them on yourself or ask your partner to do it for you.

Establish a safe word. 

As with using any other sex toy, you need to be on the same page with your partner going in, but it's also important to keep those lines of communication open throughout. Tell your partner if the pressure is too little, too much, or just right. And when you're venturing into territory where pleasurable pain is involved, a safe word is necessary — this helps keep everyone safe and enthusiastic consent present at every turn.

When is the best time to take them off?

You can leave nipple clamps on for anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, depending on how intense the pinching is. The best time to take them off during play is while the person wearing them is on the brink of an orgasm or during an orgasm. The blood will start rushing back to the nipples, and oxytocin will release — aka it'll feel even more intense. 

Experiment with where you use them.

Nipple clamps are so versatile that they can be used during any part of a sexual or play experience, and some don't just have to be used on the nipples! For example, some tweezer-style nipple clamps double as great clitoral clamps. 

My Favorite Nipple Clamps, By Type

Tweezer Style Nipple Clamps

One of the best introductory types of nipple clamps, tweezer nipple clamps are literally shaped like tweezers! This clamp style has a little circle that you can push up and down the tweezer length to change the pressure. 

Try: Unbound Babes Nipple & Clit Clamp, $35; Crave Nipple Tassels, $42 (good non-metal option)

Nipple Clamps
Credit: Courtesy
Nipple Clamps
Credit: Courtesy

Alligator Style Nipple Clamps

Alligator-style nipple clamps are named after the look of the clamp, which resembles a crocodile's mouth. (Note: sometimes these will be called crocodile clamps for the same reason!) The two pads of an alligator clamp tend to be wider and flatter than most other models, and the majority of them have a rubber coating over the metal pads.

Nipple Clamps
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Clover Nipple Clamps

Clover clips or clamps are best for someone more experienced with nipple clamps. A quick history lesson — these clamps come from Japan originally and have been used as sail clips and in keeping fabric rigid during hand sewing. So yeah, they're really intense.

Magnetic Nipple Clamps

A little bit more advanced, the magnets are continually trying to touch, pinching the nipple in between. These can be very intense, and you have far less control over the intensity. I recommend these for folks who have already tried tweezer, alligator, and clover-style clamps.

Nipple Clamps
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Vibrating Nipple Clamps

Vibrating nipple clamps are simply nipple clamps with a small motor that give you some extra oomph. Think bullet vibrator meets nipple clamp.