Getting your nipples pinched is one of those kinks that can be very divisive. Either you’re intrigued by the idea, perhaps imagining times that a well-placed squeeze has amped up your arousal or pushed you over the edge, or you’re wincing at the very thought, instinctively crossing your arms over your nipples like a shield.
But you’re reading this article, so presumably there’s something about deliberate nipple pain that calls to you, whether you want to feel it yourself or you have devious thoughts of inflicting it on a partner. And the best tool for the job is a pair of nipple clamps.
This beautifully simplistic sex toy does exactly what it says on the tin: It clamps your nipples. Aside from the inherent pleasure some people get from pain, using clamps can also heighten the sensitivity of your nipples for a while afterward, whether you continue down a painful route or switch to more pleasurable sensations. They also allow for hands-free nipple stimulation, so you can use your hands elsewhere on your partner’s body or your own. The endorphins released by pain are a nice side effect of nipple clamps, too — what feels agonizing at one moment could feel blissful in the next, as your body pumps out natural painkillers in response to the sensation.
How to Use Nipple Clamps
Anyone can use nipple clamps, regardless of gender or anatomy. It might take some experimenting to find a kind that’ll work for you, especially if your nipples are on the smaller or larger side, but there are lots of options out there.
It’s a good idea to get turned on before you attempt to use clamps, including with some gentler forms of nipple play, like caressing, licking and sucking. It’ll help relax you and get you ready for what’s to come. Nipples tend to get harder and more pronounced when you play with them, which makes clamps easier to put on. Most vitally, sexual arousal can increase your pain tolerance — which is a good thing, whether you consider yourself a nervous newbie or a hardcore masochist.
Rather than attaching the clamp to the very tip of your nipple, start by putting it around your areola (the circle around the nipple that’s usually darker and/or pinker than the surrounding skin). You can gently pinch that area with your fingers as you’re applying the clamp to make it easier to affix. If you find that you want more sensation once you start, you can always move the clamp to the tips of your nipples, which tends to be way more painful. If you’re using adjustable clamps, start on a loose setting and adjust as needed once you get a sense of how it feels — unless you’re a nipple-pain connoisseur and want a tight grip right off the bat.
Getting your nipples clamped can feel like anything from mild pressure to intense, sustained pain, but it’s important to be able to recognize when you’re overdoing it. As with any kind of sex toy that squeezes or constricts a body part, it’s best to use nipple clamps for short periods of time. Anything up to 30 minutes should be fine as long as they aren’t super tight. Nipple clamps cut off circulation to the area — which is why they often feel most painful at the moment you take them off, as the blood rushes back in — but any time you halt circulation for too long, you’re risking tissue damage. You should also take them off if you notice sustained tingling, numbness or other concerning sensations. We’re trying to lightly hurt your nipples here, not maim them.
Good communication between partners is paramount, especially when there’s pain involved. Pain can make some people go non-verbal or have trouble expressing themselves the way they want to. So it’s smart to pick a safeword before you start — or better yet, pick one word that means “stop immediately” and one that means “please loosen the pressure, that’s a little too much.” Many kinksters use the stoplight-based safewords “red” and “yellow” for this purpose.
Lastly, it’s crucial to do proper aftercare when you’re done with your session. Well-made nipple clamps shouldn’t cause physical damage to the area, but if yours have, post-play is a great time to treat any cuts with rubbing alcohol and soothe any irritation with aloe gel or similar.
Keep in mind, too, that just because you can handle a pair of nipple clamps one day doesn’t mean you’ll be able to use them any time. Nipple sensitivity can shift over time for various reasons — for instance, folks who menstruate might find that their nipples are too sore for clamps at certain times in their hormonal cycle. There’s no shame in putting them on, going “Nope, not today,” taking them off and doing something else instead.
What to Look for in a Pair of Nipple Clamps
1) Type. There are several different types of nipple clamps. The best-known one is the classic alligator style, which opens up when you squeeze the little handles together and closes when you let them go; these are usually adjustable, so they’re perfect for beginners. Tweezer-style nipple clamps — which look like, you guessed it, tweezers — are also a gentle choice for nipple-pain novices. Then you get into the types of clamps aimed at people who can handle more pain, like the butterfly style and the magnetic style. These are best left to experienced players, unless you’re up for a challenge.
2) Adjustability. Especially for beginners, it’s a good idea to get clamps that allow you to adjust their tightness. With these, you’ll be able to start at a very low pain level and work your way up if you want to — and you may well want to, because an increase in sexual arousal can make an initially shocking pain feel like a wimpy twinge just a few minutes later.
3) Chain vs. No Chain. Traditionally, nipple clamps come as a pair, with a chain connecting the two. This serves a couple of functions; firstly, it helps keep them together when storing them so they don’t get lost — losing one nipple clamp might be even more annoying than losing one sock! Secondly, it gives you something to tug on whenever you want a jolt of pain in both nipples simultaneously. It’s fun to pull the chain occasionally while going down on someone whose nipples are clamped, for example.
4) Optional Extras. Some sex toy companies have added inventive details to their nipple clamps, like vibration, weights, feathers and even electrostimulation. Mostly these are pretty gimmicky, but they can be fun, albeit not usually as versatile as a basic pair of clamps. There are also nipple clamps that attach to additional clamps made for other parts of the body, like the clit.
Ready to bring the pain? Here are some nipple clamps that are equal parts “oww” and “oooh.”
Best Basic Nipple Clamps: Utimi SM Nipple Clamps with Metal Chain
Simple and classic, these alligator-style clips are ideal for beginners because their tightness is adjustable. Rounded-off rubber tips on the points of the clamps make these more comfortable than pointy styles — to the extent that nipple clamps can be comfortable, anyway. The 15-inch chain gives you some leeway for tugging.
These also have the advantage of being cheap as hell, at less than $10. They’re nothing fancy, but they don’t need to be, especially if you’re trying out nipple clamps for the first time and don’t know yet whether you’re even gonna like them.
Best Tweezer-Style Nipple Clamps: Fresh Nipple Clamps
Tweezer-style clamps are easy to adjust, and are some of the best clamps for beginners because you can start off with very minimal pressure and go from there. You just slide the ring closer to the tips of the clamps when you want them to feel tighter. These have vinyl-capped tips for comfort, and a chain you can pull. They’re made of anodized blue metal, which gives them a gorgeous, unique look. It’s very “Cinderella, if she was attending a fetish party.”
Best Clover-Style Nipple Clamps: Master Series Black Japanese Clover Clamps
Also known as butterfly clamps, clover clamps are among the most painful kinds, and are best for seasoned nipple-play fans. They get quite tight, and the tension increases even more when you pull on the chain, producing sensations that can be screamingly intense. Textured rubber pads on the tips of the clamps help them stay on better, even when you’re pulling the chain, and they add to the pain factor as well. If you like the edgy all-black aesthetic of these, so much the better.
Best Magnetic Nipple Clamps: Master Series Crowned Magnetic Nipple Clamps
Already tried less painful clamps and want to up the ante? These could be your next upgrade. They pinch each nipple between two strong magnets. You don’t get as much control as you do with an adjustable style, but some kinky people prefer to be pushed to a pain level they weren’t quite ready for yet. There’s no chain between them, which limits how they can be used, but tapping or flicking the side of the clamp can give you a similar burst of pain to the kind you’d get from tugging on a chain.
Best Weighted Nipple Clamps: Master Series Adorn Triple Bead Nipple Clamp Set
Tiny weights give these tweezer-style nipple clamps a bit more heft. When you move around, the weights move too, intensifying the pain on your nipples. Their tightness is adjustable, making them suitable for beginners, but they don’t get very tight, so experienced masochists will probably want to look elsewhere. It could be fun to wear these while you give oral sex or do some other activity that requires moving around; the constantly shifting pain levels will keep you on your toes. There’s no chain, but you likely won’t miss it once you feel those weights swinging around.
Best Clothespin-Inspired Nipple Clamps: Tom of Finland Bro’s Pin Nipple Clamps
Many people use regular ol’ wooden clothespins as nipple clamps, and if you can handle the high pain level and lack of adjustability, they’re fine. But there’s always a risk of splintering (ouch), so you may want to spring for a fancier pair that’s actually designed for nipples instead of for laundry. These clothespins are pretty large, so they may work better for people with big nipples than some others on the list. They’re made of stainless steel, which functions almost like the weights on the beaded clamps above — it makes them feel heavier and more impactful. Their tightness can’t be adjusted, but if you like the classic clothespin aesthetic and the painful pinch they provide, these should fit the bill.
Best Vibrating Nipple Clamps: CalExotics Nipple Play Rechargeable Nipplettes
Vibrating nipple clamps are a nifty innovation because they add a dose of pleasure to your pain. These ones aren’t especially painful, though, and can’t be tightened, so they’re best suited for beginners, or people who like the idea of nipple clamps but find them too painful in reality. These can also be used on clits if you’re so inclined.
There are 12 different vibration settings to experiment with. They’re USB-rechargeable, which I like because it makes me laugh to plug nipple clamps into my computer as if they’re a memory stick. They even have a travel lock function, so you won’t have to worry about getting pulled over in the TSA line because your bag unexpectedly started vibrating.
Best Nipple Clamps with a Clit Clamp: CalExotics Triple Intimate Clamps
If you just want to clamp a clit, many of the other clamps on this list can be used for that in a pinch — just start at the loosest setting, proceed with caution and take it off if it gets too overwhelming. But there are some situations where you might want a pair of nipple clamps that’s attached to an additional clit clamp. The chain connecting the three is fun to pull on, targeting a few seriously sensitive erogenous zones all at the same time. Rubbery pads on the tips help keep these as comfortable as they can reasonably be. They’re a must-have for masochistic multitasking.