Your nipples are there just for decoration, which you probably already know. But they can clue you into some health issues that are serious. Read on to learn what you need to know about your nipples.
Discharge that is milky, clear, or bluish-green can happen in most women if their nipple is squeezed. However, if you’re not squeezing and especially if the discharge is coming from just one of your breasts or is bloody, see a doctor. This discharge could be due to a harmless cyst, benign growth, or breast cancer.
Third nipples are pretty common.
Up to 27.2 million Americans have a third nipple, according to one estimate. These are called “supernumerary” nipples and are often mistaken for skin tags or moles. Having a third nipple is not a problem, but they can be easily removed in an outpatient procedure that takes about a half an hour.
Exercise may chafe nipples.
But if you are not participating in vigorous activity and notice that you have scaly, red, itchy, and/or flaking nipples, see your doctor. This may be a sign of Paget’s disease, which is a rare form of cancer that involves the areola and nipple. It may also mean it’s simply eczema.
Nipple pain during breastfeeding is common.
Especially during the first few weeks of breastfeeding, throbbing, burning, sore, or cracked nipples are all common complaints. However, if the pain carries on, see a breastfeeding specialist because your baby might not be latching on correctly.
Inverted nipples are nothing to be concerned about.
Approximately 15 percent of women have inverted nipples from birth, according to Z. Paul Lorenc, MD, a plastic surgeon in New York City. “It’s a simple matter of connective tissue retracting the nipple inward,” explains Lorenc. “It’s a relatively minor surgical procedure to correct it. We make a tiny incision to release the connective tissue, and the nipple pops out. We can do both nipples under local anesthesia in about an hour.”
Nipples are erogenous zones.
The sensation from stimulation of the nipples travels to the same pleasure centers of the brain as sensations from the cervix, vagina, and clitoris, according to researchers at Rutgers University. If you pierce your nipples, you might lose sensation because of nerve damage.