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Nipple stimulation

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Gabrielle d'Estrées's rouged nipple is tweaked by her sister, the Duchess of Villars, circa 1600.[1]
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Nipple stimulation or breast stimulation is stimulation of the breast. Stimulation may be by breastfeeding, sexual activity, or an indirect non-sexual response. As part of sexual activity, the practice may be performed upon, or by, people of any gender or sexual orientation. It may occur with the use of fingers, orally, such as by sucking or licking, as well as by use of an object.

Nipple stimulation may produce sexual excitement, and erect nipples can be an indicator of an individual's sexual arousal. Adult women and men report that breast stimulation may be used to both initiate and enhance sexual arousal,[2] and a few women report experiencing orgasm from nipple stimulation.[3][4]

Development and anatomy[edit]

Male and female breasts, nipples and areolas develop similarly in the fetus and during infancy. At puberty, the male's breasts remain rudimentary but the female's develop further, mainly due to the presence of estrogen and progesterone, and become much more sensitive than the male ones.[2] Smaller female breasts, however, are more sensitive than larger ones.[2]

Physiological response[edit]

Breasts, and especially the nipples, are erogenous zones. Nipple stimulation may result in sexual arousal, and erect nipples can be an indicator of an individual's sexual arousal. The individual's sexual partner may find such erection erotically stimulating.[5] A survey in 2006 found that sexual arousal in about 82% of young females and 52% of young males occurs or is enhanced by direct stimulation of nipples, with only 7–8% reporting that it decreased their arousal.[5]

The stimulation of women's nipples from suckling, including breastfeeding, promotes the production and release of oxytocin and prolactin.[6][7] Besides creating maternal feelings, it also decreases a woman's anxiety and increases feelings of bonding and trust.[8][9] Oxytocin is linked to sexual arousal and pair bonding,[10] but researchers are divided on whether breastfeeding commonly incites sexual feelings.[11] Nipple erection during sexual arousal or breastfeeding are both caused by the release of oxytocin.[11] Nipple erection is due to the contraction of smooth muscle under the control of the autonomic nervous system,[12] and is a product of the pilomotor reflex which causes goose bumps.[13]

Few women report experiencing orgasm from nipple stimulation.[3][4] Before Komisaruk et al.'s functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) research on nipple stimulation in 2011, reports of women achieving orgasm from nipple stimulation relied solely on anecdotal evidence.[14] Komisaruk's study was the first to map the female genitals onto the sensory portion of the brain; it indicates that sensation from the nipples travels to the same part of the brain as sensations from the vagina, clitoris and cervix, and that these reported orgasms are genital orgasms caused by nipple stimulation, and may be directly linked to the genital sensory cortex ("the genital area of the brain").[14][15][16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hagen, Rose-Marie; Rainer Hagen (2002). What Great Paintings Say, Volume 2. Köln: Taschen. p. 205. ISBN 9783822813720. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Levin, Roy J. (2006). "The breast/Nipple/Areola complex and human sexuality". Sexual and Relationship Therapy. 21 (2): 237–249. doi:10.1080/14681990600674674. S2CID 219696836.
  3. ^ a b Alfred C. Kinsey, Wardell B. Pomeroy, Clyde E. Martin, Paul H. Gebhard (1998). Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. Indiana University Press. p. 587. ISBN 978-0253019240. Retrieved 12 August 2017. There are some females who appear to find no erotic satisfaction in having their breasts manipulated; perhaps half of them derive some distinct satisfaction, but not more than a very small percentage ever respond intensely enough to reach orgasm as a result of such stimulation (Chapter 5). [...] Records of females reaching orgasm from breast stimulation alone are rare.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  4. ^ a b Boston Women's Health Book Collective (1996). The New Our Bodies, Ourselves: A Book by and for Women. Simon & Schuster. p. 575. ISBN 978-0684823522. Retrieved 12 August 2017. A few women can even experience orgasm from breast stimulation alone.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b Levin, R.; Meston, C. (2006). "Nipple/Breast Stimulation and Sexual Arousal in Young Men and Women". The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 3 (3): 450–454. CiteSeerX doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2006.00230.x. PMID 16681470.
  6. ^ Lauralee Sherwood (2011). Fundamentals of Human Physiology. Cengage Learning. p. 619. ISBN 978-0840062253. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  7. ^ E. Malcolm Symonds, Ian M. Symonds, Sabaratnam Arulkumaran (2013). Essential Obstetrics and Gynaecology E-Book. Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 37. ISBN 978-0702054754. Retrieved 12 August 2017.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  8. ^ "Physiologic Mechanism of Nipple Stimulation". Medscape Today from WebMD. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
  9. ^ Lee HJ, Macbeth AH, Pagani JH, Young WS (June 2009). "Oxytocin: the Great Facilitator of Life". Progress in Neurobiology. 88 (2): 127–51. doi:10.1016/j.pneurobio.2009.04.001. PMC 2689929. PMID 19482229.
  10. ^ David A. Lovejoy (2005). Neuroendocrinology: An Integrated Approach. John Wiley & Sons. p. 322. ISBN 978-0470015681. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  11. ^ a b Margaret Neville (2013). Lactation: Physiology, Nutrition, and Breast-Feeding. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 358. ISBN 978-1461336884. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  12. ^ Jahangir Moini (2015). Anatomy and Physiology for Health Professionals. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. p. 568. ISBN 978-1284090352. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  13. ^ Kevin T. Patton (2015). Anatomy and Physiology - E-Book. Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 186. ISBN 978-0323316873. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  14. ^ a b Merril D. Smith (2014). Cultural Encyclopedia of the Breast. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 71. ISBN 978-0759123328. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  15. ^ Justin J. Lehmiller (2013). The Psychology of Human Sexuality. John Wiley & Sons. p. 120. ISBN 978-1118351321. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  16. ^ Komisaruk, B. R.; Wise, N.; Frangos, E.; Liu, W.-C.; Allen, K.; Brody, S. (2011). "Women's Clitoris, Vagina, and Cervix Mapped on the Sensory Cortex: fMRI Evidence". The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 8 (10): 2822–30. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2011.02388.x. PMC 3186818. PMID 21797981.