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Erotic cupping refers to a form of sensation play in which cups, bowls, or bells are used to create suction on the skin. Cupping is an ancient form of Chinese medicine and it serves to bring blood to the skin and create intense sensations of localized pressure. The pressure, in itself, can be an erotic sensation, but drawing blood into the skin also makes it much more sensitive to other types of stimulation once the cups are removed.
In cupping, cups are often applied to erogenous zones such as the nipples, breasts, buttocks, inner thighs, and clitoris. This increases blood flow and can make them more sensitive to other kinds of touch. Typically, the intensity of the sensation is determined by the size of the cup used. Larger cups create more suction, which makes the resulting sensations more intense. The three key methods of cupping used in BDSM include dry cupping, where a vacuum is created in the cup by mechanical means, fire cupping, where a combustible is used to create suction, and wet cupping, which includes adding small lacerations to the skin to draw blood via suction.
Dry cupping is the easiest and safest cupping method, and is a great way for BDSM beginners to experiment with sensation play.