Nipple stimulation

Nipple stimulation or breast stimulation is a common human sexual practice, either by itself or as part of other sexual activities. The practice may be performed upon, or by, people of any gender or sexual orientation. Adult women and men report that breast stimulation may be used to both initiate and enhance sexual arousal.[2]

Development and anatomy

The male or female breast, nipple and areola 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

Nipple stimulation may produce sexual excitement. Erect nipples can be an indicator of an individual's sexual arousal, and the individual's sexual partner may, as a result, find this erotically stimulating.[3][4] Breasts, and especially the nipples, are erogenous zones.

The stimulation of women's nipples from suckling, including breastfeeding, promotes the production and release of oxytocin and prolactin.[5][6] Besides creating maternal feelings, it also decreases a woman's anxiety and increases feelings of bonding and trust.[7][8]

Oxytocin is linked to sexual arousal and pair bonding,[9] but researchers are divided on whether breastfeeding commonly incites sexual feelings.[10] Nipple erection may also result during sexual arousal, or during breastfeeding; both are caused by the release of oxytocin.[10] Nipple erection is due to the contraction of smooth muscle under the control of the autonomic nervous system,[11] and is a product of the pilomotor reflex which causes goose bumps.[12] 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.[3][4]

Few women report experiencing orgasm from nipple stimulation.[13][14] 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.[15] 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").[15][16][17]

See also


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  1. Hagen, Rose-Marie; Rainer Hagen (2002). What Great Paintings Say, Volume 2. Köln: Taschen. p. 205. ISBN 9783822813720. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
  2. 1 2 3 Levin, Roy J. "The breast/nipple/areola complex and human sexuality". Sexual & Relationship Therapy. Vol.21, Issue 2 (May 2006). p.237–249
  3. 1 2 The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Vol 3, May 2006. by Roy Levin.
  4. 1 2 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. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2006.00230.x. PMID 16681470.
  5. Lauralee Sherwood (2011). Fundamentals of Human Physiology. Cengage Learning. p. 619. ISBN 0840062257. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  6. E. Malcolm Symonds, Ian M. Symonds, Sabaratnam Arulkumaran (2013). Essential Obstetrics and Gynaecology E-Book. Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 37. ISBN 0702054755. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  7. "Physiologic Mechanism of Nipple Stimulation". Medscape Today from WebMD. Retrieved 2010-11-20.
  8. 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.
  9. David A. Lovejoy (2005). Neuroendocrinology: An Integrated Approach. John Wiley & Sons. p. 322. ISBN 0470015683. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  10. 1 2 Margaret Neville (2013). Lactation: Physiology, Nutrition, and Breast-Feeding. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 358. ISBN 1461336880. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  11. Jahangir Moini (2015). Anatomy and Physiology for Health Professionals. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. p. 568. ISBN 1284090353. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  12. Kevin T. Patton (2015). Anatomy and Physiology - E-Book. Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 186. ISBN 0323316875. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  13. 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 0253019249. Retrieved August 12, 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.
  14. Boston Women's Health Book Collective (1996). The New Our Bodies, Ourselves: A Book by and for Women. Simon & Schuster. p. 575. ISBN 0684823527. Retrieved August 12, 2017. A few women can even experience orgasm from breast stimulation alone.
  15. 1 2 Merril D. Smith (2014). Cultural Encyclopedia of the Breast. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 71. ISBN 0759123322. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  16. Justin J. Lehmiller (2013). The Psychology of Human Sexuality. John Wiley & Sons. p. 120. ISBN 1118351320. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  17. Komisaruk, B. R., Wise, N., Frangos, E., Liu, W.-C., Allen, K. and 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.
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