Despite the fact that nearly all of us have nipples, talking about them isn’t all that common. This leaves people with a lot of questions about everything from their nipple health to whether the look and feel of their nipples is normal. Keep reading to find out eight interesting facts about your nipples.
Sore nipples are normal
Your nipples and breasts may become sore and swollen during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and the days preceding your menstrual period. This is common among many women and in most cases is nothing to worry about.
Serious nipple pain signals something could be wrong
It’s a good idea to get in touch with your doctor if you experience nipple pain that’s intense, as this indicates a possible infection. Besides pain, other common signs to look out for with an infection include chills, a fever of higher than 101, breast swelling, and warmth and redness of the breasts.
Your nipples can bleed as a result of poorly fitting clothing
It’s not all that uncommon for nipples to start bleeding as a result of chafing under poorly fitting clothing—especially after a long workout. If this is happening to you a lot and a clothing swap doesn’t fix the problem, try placing bandages over your nipples for protection. Persistent bleeding from your nipple warrants evaluation from a gynecologist or your primary care physician.
Nipple discharge doesn’t always mean something is wrong
Discharge from the nipples isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, especially if the discharge comes from both nipples and is released when you compress your breasts.
But it’s important to know key signs that signal something abnormal may be going on. If you experience bloody discharge, you’ll want to see your physician for further testing to figure out what’s going on. Another sign that something may be wrong is if the discharge only comes from one breast and occurs even when you haven’t touched or irritated your breast in any way.
In most situations, nipple discharge occurs due to a benign condition or is completely normal, but in a small number of cases it could be a symptom of breast cancer.
Many women experience itchy nipples
Your nipples can become itchy for a number of reasons including irritation, breastfeeding, pregnancy, menopause, cold weather, and eczema. Over-the-counter medicines often do the trick to resolve the itching, but if the irritation persists, you’ll want to see your doctor.
Inverted nipples are usually not a problem
Many women have inverted nipples that have always been that way or that inverted around the time of puberty. These are completely normal and work the same way as protracted nipples—many women can even breastfeed with inverted nipples. But if one of your nipples suddenly becomes inverted, this could be a sign of cancer and warrants a visit to your doctor.
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of hair on your nipples
A lot of women have a few hairs on their nipples, and this is nothing to worry about. Often the amount of nipple hair comes down to genetics—some women simply have hairier nipples than others, and it’s not a problem. Extra hair during and after pregnancy is common, too. But if you notice more hair on your nipples than usual, or hairiness developing between the breasts, you’ll want to see your doctor so they can test for a possible hormonal imbalance.
One of your nipples might look different from another
One of your nipples may be a different size or in a different position than the other, and this is perfectly normal. Nipples that have always looked a bit different are typically no big deal, but if you notice a change to one of your nipples that makes it appear different than the other, get in touch with your doctor.
Nipples vary from person to person and many of the issues you may think are problematic are actually nothing to worry about.
If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Women’s Health Arizona. As Arizona’s largest ObGyn group, we’re trained and solely dedicated to delivering the best ObGyn experience in convenient and comfortable settings around Phoenix.