It’s difficult to say exactly where nipple clamps came from—writing openly about sexual pleasure and practices is a relatively new phenomenon—but they bear a striking resemblance to the clover-shaped clasps used for sewing in ancient Japan. The clamps were mounted to the tabletop, and they held the fabric in place so that the seamstresses could focus on the delicate work of sewing kimonos or quilts without their work sliding all over the place.

As for who first looked at those clamps and thought, Hey, that’d be fun to clamp on my nipples, I have no idea, but sensation play has been around as long as sexuality itself, so you can be sure that many people experimented with nipple play by nibbling, biting, pitching and using household items such as clothes-pins long before nipple clamps hit the market.

Nipple play isn’t as taboo as other BDSM, fetishism or other sexual practices, but I still wouldn’t expect to hear it talked about at the family dinner table. For one thing, the term “nipple clamp” is incredibly direct and unabashed—nothing like the vague sexual euphemisms we can get away with in casual conversation. The other main reason it’s taboo is that it’s associated with pain, and many people are still uncomfortable (on the surface, at least) with the idea of there being any connections between pleasure and pain. It goes against our society’s traditional ideas of what sexuality should feel like and involve, so people are hesitant to talk about it.

However, people do tend to be into whatever is forbidden, and nipples have been covered up and hidden in Western society for centuries. There’s also something to be said for the fact that some of our first experiences as human beings involve nipples if we’re breastfed, and some people definitely have strong sexual feelings wrapped up with the idea of motherhood and fertility.

Both men and women tend to have a high concentration of nerve endings in their nipples, which means than any stimulation will be especially powerful. We’re naturally drawn to erogenous zones, and it tends to feel good (or at least intense) when nipples are touched, massaged, licked, or pinched.

When you put on a nipple clamp, the part of your skin that’s pinched tends to hurt a little, but as the blood leaves the area, it will feel a little bit numb. Then, when you remove the clamp later, the blood will rush back in, bringing about a strong wave of feeling to an already pleasurable erogenous zone. All of those sensations work together to make the sexual experience more intense and enjoyable.

Tweezers clamps are great because they’re easy to adjust and you can start with gentler pressures. As you get more comfortable with nipple play, you can then try options like the stiffer clover clamps, clamps with small weights or chains attached, and even nipple suckers. As always, do your research, talk with your partner beforehand, and remember that the point is to have fun and feel pleasure.

Nipple play may not be for you, but if it turns out to be exciting and sexy, you have plenty of options to keep your personal party spicy.

Sandra LaMorgese PhD is an expert in personal and professional reinvention, authentic living, communication, and bridging the gap between sexuality and a lifestyle that focuses on holistic health of the mind, body and spirit. She is the CEO of Attainment Studios, a sex positive business directory website designed to bring together members of the sex-positive community, and for finding solutions for your professional and personal needs. Her recent book Switch: Time for a Change, is a memoir of her journey from holistic practitioner to professional dominatrix at 55-years-old after losing everything, and her passion and purpose is to empower others towards healthy authentic living. To learn more about Sandra and receive your FREE eBook “5 Steps for Better Communication, Sex, and Happiness (Did I mention better sex?) visit http://sandralamorgese.com/