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Bosom buddies: A brief look at breast fetishism

Over the last year, I have received more than a dozen emails (all male) asking why I have not written a blog on ‘breast fetishism’. The main reason I have resisted writing such a blog is that it’s hard to determine where normal love of breasts ends and abnormal love of breasts begins. It won’t surprise anyone reading this that when it comes to male sexual arousal, female breasts are at the top of many men’s lists as the body part they find most sexually attractive. According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal in his book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, the sexual paraphilia of being aroused by female breasts is mammagymnophilia or mazophilia and comprises “a pronounced fetishistic sexual interest in the female breasts, their shape, movement, and especially their size”. He goes on to write that:

“[Breast fetishism is] also known as mastofact or breast partialism, it refers to an exclusive or almost exclusive reliance on breasts as a stimulus for sexual arousal. It is such a predominant feature of sexuality in the U.S., that Molly Haskell, a feminist and author from the USA, went as far as to say that ‘the mammary fixation is the most infantile and the most American of the sex fetishes’. British zoologist and ethologist Desmond Morris sees breast fetishism as a prime example of biosemiotics, by which human sexuality is influenced through signaling”.

While doing my undergraduate degree I did a project on the psychology of female orgasm and read almost every paper and book that I could on sexuality and female sexuality. I read Desmond Morris’ book The Naked Ape and was very interested in Morris’ theories on sexual signalling. If memory serves me, Morris argued that women’s breasts had evolved to look like female buttocks as humans had slowly changed the way they had sex from males mounting females from the rear to face-to-face sex. In the 1998 book Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology: Ideas, Issues, and Applications by Charles Crawford and Dennis Krebs (1998) it was theorized that humans’ permanently enlarged breasts allows females to “solicit male attention and investment even when they are not really fertile”. These hypotheses was also mentioned in the 2012 book The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction but rejected by the authors. Young and Alexander wrote:

“Biologically speaking the human male’s obsession with breasts is pretty weird. Men are the only male mammals fascinated by breasts in a sexual context. And women are the only female mammals whose breasts become enlarged at puberty, independent of pregnancy. We are also the only species in which males caress, massage and even orally stimulate the female breasts during foreplay and sex. Boys don’t learn on the playground that breasts are something that they should be interested in. It’s biological and deeply engrained in our brain. Man’s obsession with breasts is an unconscious evolutionary drive that helps humans forge loving, nurturing bonds”.

In fact, Young and Alexander forward a more biological explanation and went on to claim that it was oxytocin that best explained why women had developed breasts:

“When a woman gives birth, her newborn will engage in some pretty elaborate manipulations of its mother’s breasts. This stimulation sends signals along nerves and into the brain. There, the signals trigger the release of a neurochemical called oxytocin from the brain’s hypothalamus. This oxytocin release eventually stimulates smooth muscles in a woman’s breasts to eject milk, making it available to her nursing baby. But oxytocin release has other effects, too. When released at the baby’s instigation, the attention of the mother focuses on her baby. The infant becomes the most important thing in the world. Oxytocin and dopamine act together to help ‘imprint’ the newborn’s face, smell and sounds into the mother’s reward circuitry, making breastfeeding and nurturing a pleasurable experience that will motivate her to keep doing those activities to strengthen the mother-infant bond. This bond is not only the most beautiful of all social bonds, it can also be the most enduring, lasting a lifetime. When a lover touches, massages or nibbles a woman’s breasts, it sparks the same process of brain events as nursing.  Humans are also among the very few animals that have sexual intercourse face-to-face, looking into each other’s eyes. This quirk in human sexuality has evolved to exploit the ancient mother-infant bonding brain circuitry as a way to help form bonds between lovers. Because the release of oxytocin forces the brain’s attention to a partner’s face, smell and voice, the combination of oxytocin release during breast stimulation, and the increase of dopamine from the pleasure of foreplay and face-to-face sex, helps to forge an association of the lover’s face and eyes with the pleasurable feelings, building a bond in the women’s brain”

I was surprised to find there had been little empirical research on the role of breast and nipple stimulation in influencing sexual arousal during sex. In 2006, Dr. Roy Levin and Dr. Cindy Meston published a paper in the Journal of Sexual Medicine and claimed that there had never been a study that questioned people about breasts and sexual arousal. Consequently, Levin and Meston surveyed 301 “sexually experienced undergraduates” (148 males and 153 females mostly between the ages of 18 and 22). The authors reported:

“81.5% [of women] reported that stimulation of their nipples/ breasts caused or enhanced their sexual arousal, 78.2% agreed that when sexually aroused such manipulation increased their arousal, 59.1% had asked to have their nipples stimulated during lovemaking, and only 7.2% found that the manipulation decreased their arousal. In regard to the men, 51.7% reported that nipple stimulation caused or enhanced their sexual arousal, 39% agreed that when sexually aroused such manipulation increased their arousal, only 17.1% had asked to have their nipples stimulated, and only 7.5% found that such stimulation decreased their arousal”.

When it comes to breast fetishism, it could be argued that there are many different sub-types. Reading Dr. Aggrawal’s book alone there are many other types of sexual activity surrounding the fetishizing of the breast. This includes lactophilia (arousal from lactating breasts), oenosugia (pouring wine over female breasts and licking it off), mazophallating (the rubbing of the penis between breasts, and also know as coitus a mammilla), mazoperosis (sexual gratification from mutilating of female breasts – arguably the most extreme form of what Dr. Aggrawal describes as “tit torture, the sexual gratification from any of several erotic BDSM activities focusing solely on inflicting pain on the breast, nipples, and areola”), and ‘downblousing’:

“[Downblousing] is a variant of voyeurism where the voyeur is attracted to women bending downward so he can view their breasts down their shirt or blouse. Viewing a woman’s breast while sitting on a. higher level than the woman is also downblousing. A good example is a person sitting on first floor of a restaurant, viewing the breasts of an unsuspecting woman sitting on the ground floor taking surreptitious photographs, especially with camera-enabled cell phones, is also common among voyeurs. Many times, these photographs are then posted on the Internet for all to see. Many nations and jurisdictions have now outlawed downblousing”.

There are also other sexual behaviours that may (or may not) involve breasts as the focus of sexual arousal. For instance, anaclitism refers to “the sexual enjoyment arising from activities, or being exposed to objects normally associated with childhood (e.g., toilet training, breast sucking, playing with dolls)”. One breast-focused sexual fetish not mentioned by Dr. Aggrawal at all is ‘breast expansion fetishism’. According to the Nation Master website:

“Breast expansion fetishism is a sexual fetish characterized by pronounced sexual fantasies involving a woman whose breasts enlarge, either gradually or suddenly, sometimes to gargantuan proportions. Breast expansion fetishism may manifest as a form of inflation fetishism. Many breast expansion fetishists are fascinated by the processes by which women’s breasts can become larger, whether from age progression, pregnancy, weight gain or surgery. It is not uncommon for them to examine closely the careers of adult and mainstream entertainers and their increasing, or decreasing, bust sizes…Many breast-expansion fetishists are morphers. A morph is a photograph, an artwork, an animation which uses morphing techniques to expand a woman’s breasts”.

In the name of research I went onto Google Scholar and unsurprisingly turned up little academic. However, I was surprised to find many breast expansion sites including websites like the Big Breast Expansion, Overflowing Bra, Breast Expansion Grove (with lots of links to other breast expansion websites) and Boob Growth (please be warned these sites are sexually explicit if you click on the links) as well as sites like Literotica with a dedicated breast expansion page of fan fiction. Breast expansion is also very popular in both Manga and Anime cartoons.

I also found various first-person accounts of young adult males admitting to having such fetishes:

“I have a breast expansion fetish. No matter what, I always find myself coming back to this. In so many ways it’s amazing. Slowly, suddenly, sporadically, I like to see them grow. But I have my limits of when it gets stupidly huge (bigger than their body size). But I also have a thing of [breast expansion] on myself, like to be gender changed, then added in bigger boobs. I have been off and on with this stuff for years” (MD12, The Experience Project).

“I am searching for help and I hope I could find it here. My problem is…I have a breast expansion fetish. I [get an] erection when I [see] female breasts are growing. It started when I had seen [the] film ‘The Adventures of Pluto Nash’ in hospital. Since [then I am] always looking [for] comics, videos and pictures with growing breasts. Now I am 18 years old, I have marvelous girlfriend and we love each other. I told her about my problem and understand it, but she has forbidden me to masturbate on growing breasts…We have awesome sex but I still want to watch growing breasts. And don’t know what to do now. I don’t wont to lie, and masturbate when I [am] alone, and I don’t know how to beat this fetish. Often I am imagining [my girlfriend] with growing breasts…I hope you can help me”. (Joishi, PsychForums)

I also found what I thought was an article on the psychology of breast expansion but it was a male on the Overflowing Forum trying to analyse his own behaviour (but I found it of interest). Unfortunately, the original post has disappeared but I managed to cut and paste the self-analysis before it disappeared:

“I´m very interested in the psychology of breast expansion fetish – my obsession. I think the expansion aspect is one of many others. I like expansion stuff, but as a category it does not seem meaningful. To me, these aspects are of relevance (i) deviance [standing out from the norm], sensuality [a focus on the physical body], and emotional sensitivity [for symbolic power and interpersonal processes]. First, I´m generally attracted to stuff that defies the norm, like Lady Gaga and Beth Ditto or Slayer, the Marquis de Sade, monster movies. Second: I am fascinated by the body/mind duality of the human existence…Prominent flesh puts the focus on the body, the animal aspect of our being. And prominent breasts especially have sexual and/or nurturing connotations. Third, body parts can be seen [as] anatomical, but also on a symbolic level, they can be a means to express and execute power over others, or they can be presented as a gift – craving, desire, attention, power…a certain tension, an emotional disbalance is important for me. Big breasts can be just a nuisance for a girl or woman – for good reasons – or something they hardly care about, and then they lose most of their erotic power they could have on me”.

Like many other sexual paraphilias I have written about (such as macrophilia, microphilia, exophilia, and vorarephilia), much of the breast expansion community appears to base a lot of the online activity around fan fiction and fan art. As the Nation Master article on breast expansion notes:

“Breast expansion stories are often fantastical tales of women’s busts being enlarged by air, food, magic, medicine, alien technology or some other unseen force. Generally, the amount of enlargement is limited only by the imagination of the author, from as little as a cup size to as big as room-filling and beyond. Occasionally, there are other types of fetishes included in these stories, such as lactation, anthropomorphism, giantess, transgender, body inflation, penis expansion, or any of the processes under the umbrella term transformation fetish. Stories and pictures associated with breast expansion sometimes contain vivid depictions of sexual activity, but it is not a necessity of the fetish” 

This brief overview has highlighted that when it comes to breast fetishism and its many variants, that there is surprisingly little scientific research.

Dr. Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Crawford, C. & Krebs, D, (1998). How Mate Choice Shaped Human Nature. Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology: Ideas, Issues, and Applications. London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates,

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

Levin, R., & Meston, C. (2006). Nipple/breast stimulation and sexual arousal in young men and women. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 3(3), 450-454.

Nation Master (2014). Breast expansion fetish. Located at: http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Breast-expansion-fetish

Wikipedia (2014). Breast fetishism. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breast_fetishism

Young, L. & Alexander, B. (2012). The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction. London: Penguin.

Blown away: A beginner’s guide to inflation fetishes

In previous blogs I have briefly mentioned various forms of inflation fetishes. In my blogs on fat fetishes and alvinophilia (belly fetishism) I noted that some fat admirers encourage their sexual partners to engage in inflation activities (where individuals inflate their abdomen with air or liquid so their abdomen is distended). Belly inflation is part of the wider practice of body inflation, and involves the practice of inflating (or sometimes pretending to inflate) a part of one’s body typically for sexual gratification. For some, this may be connected with sexual arousal from the receiving of enemas (i.e., klismaphilia). According to a Wikipedia entry on fat fetishism:

“Inflation refers to the practice of inflating (typically with air or liquid), until the abdomen is distended, in such a way that it simulates a stuffing or bloating, but without food”.

In my blog on scrotal infusion I described the sexual practice in which fluid (usually saline solution) is injected into the scrotal sac as a way of making it balloon in size (which is why the practice is sometimes referred to as ‘ballooning’). A very similar practice is scrotal inflation in which air (or other gases) are injected into the scrotal sac. As I noted in my previous blog, both scrotal infusion and inflation are potentially dangerous, and individuals engaging in such acts are at risk of scrotal cellulitis, subcutaneous emphysema, Fournier’s gangrene (a type of necrotizing infection or gangrene usually affecting the perineum), and/or air embolism. As far as I am aware, there is no academic or clinical research on the practice although there are a number of websites dedicated to this practice (e.g., http://www.bodyinflation.org/). Here are a few online accounts I came across:

Extract 1: “Ever since I was pregnant, I constantly fantasized about having that big round belly again. I used to watch pregnant porn and try to push my belly out and rub it but obviously wasn’t the same. I recently came across inflation. I never heard of it before nor thought it was possible, and it turned me on so much. I just tried air inflation with a fish pump for the first time yesterday, and it was such an amazing feeling to have a hard tummy again. I rubbed it up and down it was amazing but it was a bit crampy at times. I loved the pressure, my tight belly…I know I’m going to have to practice at it more…I want to get to a point were my belly looks pregnant with out all the cramping…I haven’t been able to talk about this to any one nor my husband. I think he’d find it extremely weird”.

Extract 2: I have an inflation fetish myself. Every now and then – which is starting to become daily – I usually inflate my stomach with air or water. I occasionally chug [almost] a gallon of milk or water with salt in it – chugging too much water can be poisonous, so always put some salt in it to balance your electrolytes. I find it very arousing to get a rock-hard stomach and I want to continue to make my stomach bloat bigger and rounder, yet maintain my abs. It’s a fun challenge”.

Extract 3: “I have the same fetish. I’m a gay guy, and I prefer belly expansion in particular. I think this fetish is somehow tied to the weight gain fetish that the internet and media has exposed in recent years. I, too, have a weight gain fetish. However, I enjoy helping or watching a partner partake in weight gain, but not myself. Getting back on the subject, though I do enjoy inflating myself. Whether it be through bloating with water, air enemas, or water enemas. Water enemas have become my personal favorite method, plus they’re actually healthy and cleanse your colon. I have noticed a lot of people with similar fetishes though. Everyone has their own niche of what turns them on”.

Obviously I can’t verify the veracity of the claims made by these individuals but assuming they are true and accurate admissions, they demonstrate that inflation fetishes exist and that there appear to be overlaps with other sexual fetishes and sexual paraphilias (such as fat fetishes). However, we know nothing about the incidence, prevalence, and the development of the fetish. In one of the many online fetish lists, one of them on the Thumbpress website (’10 strange fetishes that don’t make sense’) said that one of the inflation fetishes (‘air pumping’) was “quite disturbing…perhaps as disturbing as klismaphilia” and involves pumping air into the anus to the point that it expands the belly. The website’s critique was the practice was “unhealthy, dangerous and ridiculous”. On another fetish list on the Cracked website (‘5 ridiculous [safe for work] fetishes’), the article notes that:

“[Inflation fetish] is kind of like the balloon fetish, but with a fun twist. Instead of blowing air into a party favor, you stick a bicycle pump inside your danger zone and inflate your own body until you feel like you’re going to burst. You get the farts for hours after you do it, and these guys talk about that like it’s a plus. Normal people get a stomachache after swallowing air and trying to burp, so we think it’s pretty easy to see what these guys are going through. Besides having massive online communities dedicated to the practice of filling tummies with air, there are also millions (OK, tens) of YouTube accounts whose sole purpose is to show videos of stomachs growing slightly larger”.

One aspect of air pumping that should never be attempted is vaginal air pumping. On one sexual ‘agony aunt’ website (Go Ask Alice), one man asked whether blowing air into his girlfriend’s vagina could kill her. The response by ‘Alice’ asserted:

Yes, it’s a true but very rare occurrence. When air is blown or forced directly into a vagina – without allowing any air to escape – an air embolism (the abnormal presence of air in the cardiovascular system) could form, which can be fatal. Women who are more at risk for this unlikely possibility are those whose pelvic vessels are enlarged (meaning, increased blood supply to the vagina) due to a condition such as trauma and possibly pregnancy. So, if a very large amount of air were to be blown or forced into their vaginal canals, it’s possible that the air could enter their bloodstream, causing a blockage in a blood vessel. As a result, some of these women, perhaps including the pregnant women’s fetus, may experience complications. In extraordinary cases, some of these women (and the fetus) may die if the embolism travels to the heart or lungs”.

The lack of empirical research into inflation fetishes is either because they (i) are viewed by the academic and clinical communities as a trivial research topic, or (ii) have not (as yet) caused any problems among its adherents. If papers do end up being published it may be as a result of when things go horribly wrong (i.e., someone dying).

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Cipriano, A. (2009). 5 ridiculous (safe for work) fetishes. Cracked, March 17. Located at: http://www.cracked.com/article_17149_5-ridiculous-safe-work-fetishes.html

Encyclopedia Dramatica (2012). Fat furry. Located at: https://encyclopediadramatica.se/Fat_furry

Thumbpress (2011). 10 strange fetishes that don’t make sense. April 20. Located at: http://thumbpress.com/10-strange-fetishes-that-don’t-make-sense/

Wikipedia (2012). Body inflation. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_inflation

Wikipedia (2012). Fat fetishism. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat_fetishism