It’s very common for women to have sore nipples. This type of pain is triggered by various factors including environmental, hormonal imbalance, friction, infection, sexual activity, breastfeeding, allergies, and more. Reasons for nipple pain and discomfort include:
Friction or “jogger’s nipple”
Nipple pain is often the result of friction during athletic activity such as running and working out. This can be worsened if the athlete is wearing an ill-fitting sports bra. Long-distance runners are at a higher risk, as well as surfers who neglect to wear rash guards.
Allergies and temperature sensitivity
Nipples are extremely sensitive and might not take well to certain environmental changes. Hygiene products such as soaps and lotions and detergents, clothing and linens, and outdoor temperatures may be too stimulating. The nipples might appear red and chapped and feel itchy.
Changes in estrogen and progesterone levels can cause nipple pain during a woman’s menstrual cycle. This is quite common. Just before her period, a woman often experiences tender breasts and nipples. This isn’t cause for concern, but if it’s prolonged, it’s important to see a doctor and get testing if needed.
Friction from sexual activity
It’s inevitable– if there’s a lot of friction in the nipple area during sex, they’ll feel sore. This should be a temporary experience and can be relieved with different gentle moisturizers or gels.
In rare cases, pain in the nipples can be part of having Paget’s disease of the nipple. The cause of this disease is unknown and rarely may indicate breast cancer. This condition is seen in about 1 percent of breast cancers. Symptoms range from redness and crusting to pain, itching and burning. In very rare, serious cases surgery is needed.
Problems during pregnancy
It’s very common to experience nipple pain during pregnancy. Blood volume increases when pregnancy hormones kick in and since the breasts are so sensitive, soreness occurs. A woman’s areolas are usually darker and bigger after the first few months of pregnancy. Breathable fabric and appropriately fitting bras are even more important during this time.
Nipple pain can be unbearable for some women during breastfeeding and they might quit because of the discomfort. It’s incredibly common for a woman to experience soreness, especially in the beginning. Sometimes their baby is unable to latch on properly or is teething and bites. Other issues associated with breastfeeding that could cause pain are inflammation and blocked ducts, mastitis, abscess, dryness and chapping, eczema, Raynaud’s syndrome, dermatitis, milk blisters and thrush. Many choose to breastfeed because they know of the associated benefits and might need to seek advice from a medical expert if it feels like they can’t keep it up.
Depending on the reason for nipple pain, there are a lot of home remedies and over-the-counter treatments available to help ease discomfort. Creams, sprays, moisturizers, compresses and adjustments in feeding positions if the pain is due to breastfeeding, are options. It’s also wise to consult a doctor if the pain seems to be a mystery.