Is there anything called a normal nipple? Are the nipples similar for everyone? Are the function of nipples in males and females similar? Read the article to know more interesting facts about nipples.
The nipple is at the center portion of the breast, and it is linked to the mammary glands where milk is produced. The areola is the dark-colored area that is surrounding the nipple.
Nipples, the shape, and size of the mammary glands are different for every person. It varies for every individual. They can either be large or small, pale or dark, and different in shape. And the same person can have two different types of nipples.
There are no identical nipples. Even the same person can have two different nipples. In certain people, the difference is imperceptible, and in others, it is more noticeable. There are different types of nipples:
1) Cone-Shaped Nipples:
Mammary glands of the breasts will undergo different stages of development. During puberty, female breasts grow and develop between 8-13, with significant variation from person to person. Initially, the breasts, nipples, and areolas rise above the chest in the form of a cone. And around 16 years of age and older, the areola merges with the outline of the breast. Hence it no longer protrudes above it. This shape usually changes after giving birth or after breastfeeding. Most female breasts have cone-shaped nipples at certain stages of development.
2) Inverted Nipples:
In a few people, one of the nipples is inverted rather than protruding. It is normal and has no impact on the person’s health in any way. This kind of nipple is a result of breast development. Inverted nipples often start to protrude once the breasts stop growing or after childbirth and lactation. But inverted nipples have to be taken good care of. Keeping them clean can prevent infections.
3) Hairy Nipples
Everyone has hair follicles on their areolas. Some have tiny and fine hairs that are mostly invisible, and others have numerous hairs, which makes them noticeable. The presence of approximately 2-15 hairs per nipple is usually considered to be normal. Hair in the areola can appear because of hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy, or in certain conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome.
4) Puffy Nipples
The nipple and the entire area surrounding it will appear as a small, raised mound on the top of the breast. The nipple can harden when cold or stimulated.
1) Nipples are an indicator of a woman’s health.
The characteristics like color, size, shape of the nipples are some of the major factors doctors consider while diagnosing the woman’s health. So the shapes, color of the nipples play a major role in reading women’s health.
2) Is it normal to have hairy nipples?
Usually, everyone has hair follicles on their areolas. Few may have tiny hairs that may not be visible. For some people, they may have numerous hairs that make it very obvious. So it is normal to have hairy nipples. The presence of 2-15 hairs per nipple is usually quite common.
3) Breastfeeding is impossible with inverted nipples.
Women with inverted nipples may find it hard to breastfeed, but you can still breastfeed as long as the baby latches on to the breasts correctly and gains weight steadily. Though they may find difficulty in breastfeeding, it is not completely impossible. However, the protractility improves in the later weeks or once the child is born. In fact, there are few alternative ways to breastfeed successfully with inverted nipples. They include:
Support your breasts with C-fold or V-fold to compress, which makes it easier for the baby to latch on.
A breast pump can be used. It helps to draw your nipples out right before you nurse your baby.
You can consult your doctor about using a nipple shield.
4) It is normal to have bumps on the areolas.
The bumps on the areolas are also called Montgomery glands. These glands are associated with secreting oil used in cleansing the nipple opening, and it also helps prevent chapping of the nipples that normally occurs during breastfeeding. You need to consult your doctor only if these bumps get inflamed or secrete any kind of fluid of a different color.
5) You can have different types of nipples. It is not necessary you need to have similar nipples.
There are different types of nipples. It can be protruding, flat, puffy, or inverted. There are some probabilities for a person to have two different types of nipples. In certain people, the differences are imperceptible, and in few people, they can be noticeable.
6) Milk comes out through multiple tiny holes.
Nipples just do not have a single opening. Milk comes out through multiple tiny holes called the milk duct orifices or nipple pores. These milk duct orifices have their own sphincters to keep the milk from leaking. Some of these duct orifices are located at the center and a few outsides of it.
7) Is it possible to have more than one nipple or even no nipple at all?
Normally people have two nipples, one on each breast. The milk lines can give rise to extra nipples called the supernumerary nipples. If the extra nipples are not present along the milk line, then it is referred to as ectopic supernumerary nipples. The presence of extra nipples is called polythelia. Polythelia is usually more common in men than in women.
When you are born with no nipples, it is called Athelia. This is a rare condition, but it is also possible.
8) Nipples often change in shape and size during pregnancy.
Women’s body changes during pregnancy and breasts are not an exception. The breast undergoes multiple changes. They may increase in size or color changes or can become more sensitive in the first trimester. During the second trimester, the breasts continue to grow as they get prepared to produce milk. And in the third trimester, they grow even more extensive, and areolas become darker in color.
9) Nipple pain is quite common among women.
Nipple pain can be due to some hormonal changes. It can be a symptom of premenstrual syndrome. And it is usual for breastfeeding mothers to experience breast pain for multiple reasons like positioning problems during breastfeeding.
10) Nipple discharge is a serious condition.
Discharge from the nipples can indicate an underlying health condition like cysts, hypothyroidism, and some changes in the medications.If you notice any blood discharge, then it has to be consulted and checked. It is an alarming sign.
Nipple cancers are very rare, but it is better to get them checked if you notice symptoms like blood discharge or persistent pain in the breasts.
Each one of us has nipples regardless of gender. Both men and women have nipples. Nipples are developed in men because nipples are formed in the womb way before embryos become distinct. By the time the Y chromosome is developed to distinguish a fetus as male, the nipples are already formed. Nipples in men are an erogenous zone. Reports say that nipple stimulation enhances sexual arousal in men.
Both men and women have nipples, but their functions may be different. However, nipples are a significant indicator of women’s health; hence if symptoms like persistent pain or discharge from the nipples have to be addressed and treated by the healthcare professional.
Last reviewed at:
21 Aug 2021 - 5 min read
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