Nipple and breast play is a common element of foreplay. It’s also an excellent way to increase arousal during sex. Breasts and nipples are erogenous zones that respond to sexual stimulation in many ways.
Boobs erect themselves, become more sensitive and even release a type of sweat that smells like pheromones during arousal. Let’s explore why this happens.
1. Increased Blood Flow
The engorged look of a woman’s nipples during sexual arousal is real and caused by increased blood flow to the area. According to Buzzfeed, breasts can increase in size up to 25 percent during the plateau phase of arousal (or, as a plastic surgeon puts it, “sexy time”).
The increased blood flow also leads to the areola swelling and can cause your chest to appear pinker or darker, known as a sex flush. This is a totally harmless change that mimics facial blushing and occurs due to the hormones involved during arousal.
When stimulated, the nipples tell the brain to release oxytocin, a chemical that facilitates bonding between mothers and infants. Nipple stimulation can also encourage clitoral orgasm, which is more likely when arousal occurs in both the breast and nipple areas simultaneously.
In fact, researchers have found that stimulating women’s nipples triggers the same response in the brain as stimulating the clitoris and the vagina or cervix. Nipple play can include licking, stroking, massaging, and even sucking, but for the hands-free option try using a nipple vibrator.
2. Increased Sensitivity
Unlike a penis, it’s biologically impossible for a woman’s breasts to grow during sexual arousal and sex. But that doesn’t mean nipples don’t get hard during these experiences, and it is not uncommon for women to find that their nipples become more sensitive.
The reason? It’s all about that rush of blood to the body. That means nipples and the areola, as well as other areas of the chest, become much more sensitized.
This increased sensitivity can make breast touch more pleasurable than it was before, says sexologist Carol Queen. And, she adds, when nipple play is combined with stimulation of the clitoral zone, you can experience a blended orgasm.
That’s why it’s important to take things slowly with nipple play and explore the rest of your body’s erogenous zones, too, like the neck, collarbone, and shoulders. And, as always, remember to be respectful of your partner’s sensitivities. Too much pressure or rough handling can be uncomfortable for both of you. If you want to try out nipple play, start by gently stroking the area in circular motions, then move on to more intense touches.
3. Oxytocin Release
During arousal, it is normal for the nipples to become erected and stay that way for some time. This is due to oxytocin release from the breasts. This hormone is a natural lubricant and it also increases the sensitivity of the clitoris to help you perform better during orgasm.
When you play with your nipples, it sends a signal to the brain to release oxytocin. This is a naturally occurring hormone that is known as the “love hormone” for its role in bonding and creating emotional connections. It is also responsible for childbirth and breastfeeding. In men, oxytocin leads to erection and helps sperm move down the penis to reach their destination.
Nipple play may also activate the genital sensory cortex, which is the same region of the brain impacted by stimulation of the vagina and clitoris. This could explain why nipple and breast stimulation triggers orgasm.
The climax phase of sexual arousal is characterized by the buildup of fluid in body tissues. This fluid is called vasocongestion. It happens when sexual stimulation causes an increase in the blood flow to genital organs. This increased blood flow causes a temporary swelling of tissues and organs. It results in erections of the penis, clitoris and nipples. It also causes a temporary darkening of skin in the chest and around the genitals. It also causes the release of vaginal secretions that lubricate the vagina to facilitate intercourse.
Women’s nipples are prone to engorge with fluid during arousal, which is why their nipples sometimes get enlarged during arousal. However, it is important to remember that nipple enlargement does not equate to arousal because there are other signs of arousal like moaning and a lubricated vagina.
The pressure and congestion caused by vasocongestion can lead to pain in the vulva, uterus or pelvic area. It is also a major cause of what is commonly known as “blue balls.” Taking an erection or masturbating with a partner can make this painful sensation go away.
As you approach the peak of sexual arousal, your heart rate increases, causing blood to flow to your nipples and other erogenous zones. This engorges them, making them appear fuller and sexier, and they can even become erect during this phase. Your nipples and areolae also become more sensitive, which makes them easier to play with during intimate activities. Your apocrine glands release sweat-scented pheromones during this stage, too.
During the final stages of arousal, your nipples may become fully erect and turn a light pink color due to vasocongestion. It’s important to note that nipple arousal doesn’t necessarily mean that your overall boob size will increase, as this depends on your individual anatomy.
The arousal theory, first introduced by Yerkes and Dodson, suggests that the optimal level of arousal for performance is moderate. Too low arousal can lead to boredom and lack of motivation, while too high arousal can cause stress and anxiety.