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Friday
Dec162011

Breasts are Best: Can Women Orgasm from Nipple Stimulation?

Some women, though not many, have reported that they can achieve an orgasm simply by having their breasts and nipples stimulated.1 The idea of a woman experiencing orgasm without any genital touching whatsoever might seem perplexing, but new research suggests that there is actually a sound biological basis for it.2

The goal of this study was to see what areas of the brain are active in response to stimulation of different parts of the female body. Female participants were asked to lie inside an fMRI machine and alternate between stimulating the clitoris, vagina, cervix, and nipple. An experimenter instructed the women to “comfortably” stimulate one of those body parts for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds before repeating the process with a different part of the body. All participants were asked to simulate themselves in the exact same way to keep the results as constant as possible (e.g., when it came to nipple stimulation, women were asked to use their right hand to “tap the left nipple rhythmically”).  

The researchers discovered that stimulation of the nipple activated an area of the brain known as the genital sensory cortex. This is the same brain region activated by stimulation of the clitoris, vagina, and cervix. What this means is that women’s brains seem to process nipple and genital stimulation in the same way. In light of this, it is not at all surprising that many women are aroused by having their nipples touched and that, for some, this may be enough to lead to orgasm.

If I may offer one note of caution, please keep in mind that when it comes to nipple stimulation, there is good touching and bad touching. The nipple can be a highly sensitive part of the body, which means that more aggressive handling (e.g., twisting) can actually be quite unpleasant. As always, it’s best to communicate with your partner about what is and is not pleasurable.  

On a side note, the researchers responsible for this fMRI study recently produced a video of what a complete orgasm looks like inside the female brain (see here). As you can see in the video, the orgasmic experience depends upon a complex interplay of multiple regions of the brain (a “symphony” of activity, if you will). Understanding all of these connections could help us to one day understand why some women seem to have more difficultly achieving orgasm than others.

For our other articles on female orgasm, see here and here.

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1Levin, R. J. (2006). The breast/nipple/areola complex and human sexuality. Sexual & Relationship Therapy, 21, 237-249.

2Komisaruk, 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. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 8, 2822-2830.

Dr. Justin Lehmiller - Science of Relationships articles | Website/CV
Dr. Lehmiller's research program focuses on how secrecy and stigmatization impact relationship quality and physical and psychological health. He also conducts research on commitment, sexuality, and safer-sex practices. Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

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Reader Comments (5)

Dr. Lehmiller is quite correct . I understand that women who achieve orgasm from breast stimulation is rare , but I have found three and consider myself (and them) fortunate . I believe this stems from the limbic portion of the brain , which controls involuntary responses among other things . Women are far more susceptible to these involuntary responses because they are more deeply primal in physical makeup than are men . I've even spoken with women who say that they have achieved orgasm while breast feeding . I am not a researcher , but I'm open to what makes people tick both individually and as a species . Thank you , Chuck

January 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCharles Buzbee

Yes, I am one of those women who achieve orgasm through breast and nipple stimulation alone. This orgasm is much different from a genital or penetration orgasm. For one, it doesn't center on the genitals, it centers on the breasts. The second thing about them is that they can happen very quickly and frequently, and feel a bit like an uncontrolled muscle contraction of the upper torso. My muscles are very relaxed afterward. If women can have these orgasms, I don't see why men can't. I also find genital and penetration orgasms to be very different. The confusion that they are one orgasm may come from the fact that they often happen simultaneously. Genital orgasms are very pleasant and can be intense, but there is nothing like a good penetration orgasm for a woman, probably due to the fact that this comes from the G spot which is connected to the clitoris. You can only reach the G spot by penetration.

April 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSylverWyrd

To SylverWyrd's point - yes, men CAN have them too. I'm one of the (maybe few?) men lucky enough to experience intense nipple pleasure to the point of it being the trigger point for orgasm. Admittedly, the stimulation was not of the nipples only - it was in addition to genital pleasuring - however my ex-wife became an expert at totally controlling my climaxes. When she was pleasuring me - if she decided it was "time" for me to climax then and there - regardless of whether or not I was close - all she had to do was lick, suck and gently bite my left nipple, and that would immediately send me over the top into a very sudden, very intense climax - every time. What was interesting (and obviously extremely enjoyable) was that while the climax itself was genital and involved ejaculation - it was "mirrored" by feeling of pleasure (that honestly is very difficult to describe) in the nipple and areola.

September 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNewfoundPleasures

Yeah, woman can orgasm from nipples. But not only woman. Man can too. Its a sensitive area, full of nerve endings. Nipples are not so much direfent in woman and men, so...;

September 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFlavi

Yet none of this explains why my wife will often orgasm, and strongly, while perfotmibg oral sex on me! We sometimes have simeltaneous climaxes this way, I have no idea how that happens.
As to nipple touching I had a previous partner who often got orgasms from nipole play only.

October 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge
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