Why Does Nipple Sucking Feel Good? Plus 6 Tips To Make It Feel Even Better

Make nipple-sucking feel even more amazing by trying new techniques, toys, and more.

Why Does Nipple Sucking Feel Good? Plus 6 Tips To Make It Feel Even Better

Why Does Nipple Sucking Feel Good? Plus 6 Tips To Make It Feel Even Better

Published on
October 23, 2019
Updated on
June 3, 2021
— What's changed?
Medically Reviewed by
5 minute read

Nipples come in all shapes, colors, and sizes; people of every gender have them. For those who become pregnant and give birth, nipples can provide access to nourishment for a breastfeeding baby. The nipples are highly sensitive and responsive to stimulation, making nipple-sucking a great way to give and receive pleasure for folks of all genders. 

Nipple anatomy

What is commonly referred to as simply the “nipple” is actually two structures: The nipple itself, which is a raised area with tiny holes that connect it to deeper tissues in the breast, and the areola, the relatively flat area of skin surrounding the nipple. The nipple and areola are usually darker in color than the surrounding skin and have an irregular surface. Most people have two nipples, but it’s fairly common to have one or more extra nipples (1). 

Why does nipple-sucking feel so good?

Nipples are made to be sucked on: During breastfeeding, tiny holes in the nipples allow milk to flow through ducts from milk producing glands in the breast tissue. In response to a baby’s sucking, the pituitary gland of a breastfeeding parent releases the powerful hormone oxytocin, encouraging milk to flow and promoting bonding and caregiving behavior (2). 

Even in people who aren’t breastfeeding, nipple sucking can stimulate the release of oxytocin, which also occurs during sexual arousal and orgasm (3). Oxytocin, sometimes referred to as “the love hormone” has been found to reduce stress and increase sensations of trust and wellbeing (4). Because nipple sucking and oxytocin release are linked, nipple sucking may help to build feelings of closeness and intimacy with your partner.

As well as encouraging oxytocin to flow, the nipples are highly sensitive to touch and temperature, and often become erect in response to sexual arousal. The nipples don’t have erectile tissue that fills with blood like the clitoris or penis; instead, they get hard due to the contraction (pulling together) of specialized muscles below the skin, similar to what happens when you get goosebumps (1).

Can you orgasm from getting your nipples sucked on?

In people who have vulvas, the same region of the brain that is activated during stimulation of the clitoris and vagina is triggered by nipple stimulation (3). This suggests that the pleasure some people feel when having their nipples sucked is similar to that of direct genital stimulation — some people have even reported that they can have an orgasm just from having their nipples played with (5).

6 nipple-sucking tips

If you’re interested in incorporating nipple-sucking into your repertoire — or if you’d like to expand on your technique — there are many ways to get creative and promote greater pleasure for your partner and yourself. 

1. Be anatomically aware.

Nipples come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. They can be big, small, dark, pale, puffy, flat, or protruding (sticking out). Some people have inverted nipples—instead of protruding, their nipples are tucked inside the breast, appearing “inside-out.”

It can be helpful to pay attention to your partner’s unique anatomy: Some people have highly sensitive nipples and like a very gentle touch, while others prefer more intense sensations. Ask for permission to suck on your partner’s nipples and what feels good to them before you start. If they’re not sure how they like to have their nipples sucked, go slowly and check in regularly. 

Those who have had breast or chest surgery, such as breast reduction or mastectomy (removal of the breast), sometimes experience a change in nipple sensitivity (6). Particularly if your partner is trans or has experienced a medical procedure involving their nipples, chest, or breasts, make sure to check in about what nipple sucking means to them and how it feels.

Some people who are lactating (breastfeeding) experience changes in the way they perceive their own breasts and nipples, as well as the way that they feel about nipple-sucking in a sexual context (7). If your partner is lactating, take some time to explore both of your feelings around nipple play.

2. Experiment with intensity. 

Switching up the intensity of nipple sucking can be a great way to discover what your partner likes, as well as keeping things interesting. Start by sucking softly, then increase the level of suction, or alternate between firm and gentle. Keep in mind that what feels gentle to one person can be unbearably intense for someone else: Always check in with your partner to see whether what you’re doing feels good, and whether they’d prefer you to back off or to increase the intensity.

3. Use your tongue.

The tongue is perfectly built for bringing pleasure to your partner during nipple-sucking. You can make gentle circles around the areola with the tip of your tongue, use it to stimulate the nipple itself, or even lick the entire breast or pectoral area to increase anticipation. You can also play with the erect tip of the nipple with your tongue, circling or flicking it while you suck. 

4. Change the temperature.

Just as variations in pressure can increase pleasurable sensations during nipple-sucking, changing the temperature can feel great. Try taking a sip of warm tea before taking your partner’s nipple into your mouth. Or, try popping an ice cube into your mouth to instantly harden your partner’s nipple and create a delightful shiver.

5. Add toys.

Nipple-sucking feels great when you just use your mouth—but why limit yourself? Using a nipple pump can free your mouth for dirty talk, kissing, or licking another body part. It can also create a much more intense sensation than is possible with the mouth alone—and your partner can control it themselves. When using a nipple pump, it’s a good idea to use lots of lube: not only can it mimic the appealing wetness of the mouth, it can help to reduce friction and prevent pain and injury. You can also try nipple clamps for more sustained stimulation, particularly if your partner likes intense sensation.

6. Tease with your teeth.

For some people, nipple-sucking feels even better when the teeth get (gently!) involved. Try softly raking your teeth from the base of the nipple to the tip. For those who prefer a little pain with their pleasure, nibbling and biting the nipples can feel amazing. Whenever you use your teeth, take great care to avoid biting too hard—and always ask for your partner’s feedback to make sure what you’re doing is more “Wow!” than “Ow!”

Nipple-sucking can be a great way to enhance sex, or a satisfying, intimate activity in its own right. Experiment with a variety of techniques to discover what feels best for you and your partner. If you’re new to nipple sucking (or even if you’re not) go slowly, check in often, and enjoy the experience.

The bottom line

There are plenty of ways to take your nipple play to the next level. By adding in some of these tips and techniques you might even experience an orgasm from nipple stimulation. The nipples aren't the only unexpected body part that might bring you intense pleasure, though. Learn about other erogenous zones so you can experiment with even more areas of the body.

Reviewed for Medical Accuracy

Emily A. Klein is a freelance writer with deep interests in science, culture, and health. As a student of cultural anthropology, she researched and wrote about kink, reproductive rights, cross-cultural medicine, and humans’ relationship with technology. She has designed and implemented a sexual health curriculum for adolescent girls, worked with foster youth and people experiencing housing insecurity, and volunteered as an emergency first responder. Her writing has appeared in The Establishment, Edible magazine, The Seattle Lesbian, Slog, and elsewhere.

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1. Stone, MD, Kimberly and Amanda Wheeler, MD. 2015. “A Review of Anatomy, Physiology, and Benign Pathology of the Nipple.” Annals of Surgical Oncology 22, no. 10 (August): 3236–3240. https://doi.org/10.1245/s10434-015-4760-4 

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6. Dossett, Lesly A., Janell Lowe, Weihong Sun, M.C. Lee, Paul D. Smith, Paul B. Jacobsen, and Christine Laronga. 2016. “Prospective evaluation of skin and nipple-areola sensation and patient satisfaction after nipple-sparing mastectomy.” Journal of Surgical Oncology 114, no. 1 (April): 11–16. http:/doi.org/10.1002/jso.24264

7. Campo, Monica. “The Lactating Body and Conflicting Ideals of Sexuality, Motherhood and Self.” In Giving Breastmilk: Body Ethics and Contemporary Breastfeeding Practices, edited by Rhonda Shaw and Alison Bartlett, 51-63. Toronto: Demeter, 2010.