Nipple facts: Nipples may differ in shapes and sizes but they perform important functions in both men and women. As we know, in women, it plays a key role in breastfeeding.
Interestingly, in the 16th Century, doctors would examine women’ s nipples to diagnose various underlying conditions. Though this does not happen any longer, there remain several unanswered questions and unknown facts about the body part. Dr Riddhima Shetty, an Obstetrician-Gynaecologist spoke with SheThePeople and explained all that we need to know about nipples.
These 8 things are normal nipple facts you need not worry about
The colour of the nipples and areola
There are four main types of nipples. They can be protruding, flat, inverted or unclassified. Two of your nipples need not be of the same type. You can have two different types of nipples on each of your breasts. So we get eight different categories of nipples. The nipple is the part located right in the centre of your breast. The part around that, which is generally darker in colour is called areola. The nipple and areola can be of many different colours. “Depending on your skin tone, the nipple can be light pink, dark pink or dark brown. Generally, the colour of nipples in Indian women is dark brown. That is perfectly normal,” said Dr Shetty.
Changes in size and shape of nipples
The size and shape of nipples along with the colour can change due to hormonal changes in the body. This happens when you get your first periods, along with age or even during pregnancy. The doctor further added that inverted nipples are completely normal. Women need not worry if their nipples are inverted. Generally, after pregnancy and delivery, during pregnancy and delivery, during breastfeeding, they become normal on their own. It does not interfere with their breast feeding process.
This is a very rare condition where people can have multiple nipples on a single breast. It can be removed with the help of cosmetic surgery.
One of the most important nipple facts is that having hair on nipples is completely normal. As the rest of your body, your breasts can also have small hair follicles, which depending on hormonal changes can grow small or thick hair. “These can be removed by plucking or tweezing. But do not wax or use any epilating creams or anything on it because that area is very very sensitive,” the doctor adds.
Nipple soreness and pain
Many females face a lot of nipple soreness or pain in the general nipple and breast area just before their periods. This is completely normal and falls under the Premenstrual Syndrome Category. If it is too unbearable, the doctors prescribe some pain killers or supplements.
Crack in the nipples
“Because of wearing tight workout clothes and having a very strenuous exercise process or in breastfeeding mothers, there have been occurrences of cracked nipples. Generally, we prescribe a cream, a moisturising cream to help deal with it,” the Obstetrician-Gynaecologist said.
Dr Shetty explained that nipples are an erogenous zone. Women have a lot more nerve endings around their nipples than men. That is why women have a lot more sexual arousal when their nipples are stimulated.
Bumps around nipples
If you have noticed small bumps around the nipples, they are completely normal. They are known as Montgomery’s Tubercles. A small amount of lubricating fluid is released from there which keeps the nipples moist and comfortable.
What is not normal about nipples?
“Any kind of bumps or lumps around your nipple is not normal and you should definitely go to the doctor to get it checked. The next thing that is not normal is, if there is any discharge, secretion or blood coming out from your nipple, this is an important warning sign. This might mean you have some kind of hormonal imbalance or there is a cyst in your breast or may be a warning for a bigger issue,” the doctor said.
Dr Shetty asks people to watch out for skin changes in the nipple. If we notice thickening of the skin or dimpling of the skin, that is, if you see small holes around your nipple or the nipple resembles an orange peel, you should get yourself checked.
“Nipples are of different shapes and size, and all of them are perfect and completely normal. But it is important that you keep doing regular self breast examinations and also go for yearly breast check-ups with your doctor. If your family has a history of breast, stomach, uterine or ovarian cancer, it is important for you to get a yearly mammogram done,” the doctor signs off.