Dear Dr. Myrtle,
I enjoy nipple clamps (a lot!), but I worry about causing damage. Can you tell me how long I can leave them on, how tight is safe, and what I should watch for?
Nipple clamps increase sensation in two main ways:
- Because they are clamped on, they cause continuous pressure signals to be sent to your brain.
- They also constrict and cut off some of the blood supply to the tip of your nipple. The decreased blood supply makes the nerve endings more sensitive to touch.
It is generally safe to clamp skin tightly enough that the clamp stays on, but not so tight that it cuts into the skin or causes bruising. A little can feel like a lot, so there’s no need to put the clamp on the highest setting for a rewarding experience.
Whenever you are cutting off blood supply, there is some risk of damage. How much blood is being cut off - all of the blood supply, or just some of it? Some nipple toys, like suction cups and u-shaped clamps, allow for some blood to get into the tip of the nipple. You might be able to tell this because, depending on how dark your skin is, your nipple might become a little pink. Other nipple clamps do not allow much blood to get to the nipple. If the nipple is bluish, not as much blood is circulating in and out, and if it’s whitish, probably very little blood is circulating through.
The general rule is: if all circulation is cut off, you should keep the clamps on for no more than 30 minutes at a time. If your circulation is usually poor, you probably shouldn’t constrict the clamp as long. The length of time varies from person to person, so it’s a good idea to play at the low end of the tension scale at first, even at the risk of having clamps fall off when your arousal state isn’t as high. Then see what you like as you progressively increase the tension. Some people like to play with nipple clamps intermittently - five minutes here, ten minutes there - and never get close to the 30 minute clamp time.
Also, remember that the most sensation usually occurs as the clamps are removed, rather than when they’re put on. Most people feel a definite "pinching" sensation when the clamps are applied, then feel a much more intense sensation when the clamps are released and blood rushes back into the nipples. Remember this as you play, and prepare yourself (or your partner) for the removal of the clamps by rubbing the nipples and breasts before, during, and after the removal.
Above all, only use clamps while it feels good. If you have any pain or numbness, take them off.