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Debby Herbenick Ph.D., M.P.H.

The Surprising Ways Breast Play Can Enhance Arousal

Tips for incorporating breasts into more pleasurable sex play.

Whether you call them breasts, boobs, boobies, tata, gazungas, the chest, or something else entirely, I'm sure you have a name for the lovely lumps sitting on your or your partner's chest. And why wouldn't you? Breasts are an absolute wonder. They attract the attention of men and women by some mysterious natural force, they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and they often happen to feed and nourish babies, too.

But when it comes to sex, breasts often get neglected. When a young woman first goes through puberty, breasts get a lot of visual, eye-catching attention. And when young women start to kiss and make out they get the attention of touch. After all, most women have their breasts touched and/or kissed before they ever have intercourse.

Once intercourse starts, though, the vagina somehow upstages the breasts leaving them to wonder, where did the love go?

One thing we know from research is that many women long for more breast play as part of their sex. In a study published in 2006, 82% of women and 52% of men said that breast/nipple stimulation could cause them to feel sexually aroused. This surprises some people who often think that arousal should or does occur spontaneously.

Further, a total of 78% of women and 39% of men said that once aroused, nipple/breast stimulation can further increase their arousal. Very few people said that breast/nipple stimulation decreased their arousal.

If you're someone who enjoys breast stimulation, or if you suspect your partner might be, consider adding one or more of the following to your sex life:

  • Lacing the breasts with whipped cream for partnered sex play
  • Decorating the breasts with flavored, edible body cream or paint
  • Boost them with a balconette bra or a bustier to enjoy the look of your own beautiful breasts
  • Massaging the breasts alone or with a partner starting with the tops, then the bottoms and sides, which are more sensitive than the nipples
  • Bathing together and soaping up each others' breasts/chests (the lathery soap can make for a sensuous touch)
  • Ladies: touch your own breasts during sex
  • For male-female couples: Get creative with breast-penis play (vaginal intercourse isn't the only way one can have sex)
  • Put peanut butter and chocolate on your or your partners' nipples

Breasts have the potential to play a pleasurable part in people's sexual lives, whether alone or with a partner. Consider ways that you can make breast play fun enjoyable and a regular part of your sexual and sensual life. If you or your partner has experienced breast cancer, and you're interested in more tailored ideas for enhancing sexual intimacy, consider reading Living Beyond Breast Cancer: A Survivor's Guide for When Treatment Ends and the Rest of Your Life Begins.

Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., MPH, of Indiana University, is the author of Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.

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About the Author

Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., M.P.H., is a Research Scientist and Associate Director at The Center for Sexual Health Promotion and a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute.