Have you ever looked down in the shower and noticed a giant, dark, coarse hair growing around your nipple? Or maybe there's something that you think has always been off about your nipples, like the color or size.
As it turns out, there are a lot of weird things that can be going on with your nipples. And while most are harmless, some strange nipple feats can be a warning sign for certain conditions or diseases — so it's still worth talking them through and relieving any worries you may have.
So that random long hair you spotted? Totally normal. Since we're mammals and we have hair, we can sometimes find it in surprising places. Plus, changes in hormones could elicit hair growth where you think you should only have peach fuzz (or no hair at all).
Big hormone jumps, like puberty or pregnancy, could start some wacky hair habits, but once your body starts to calm down, so will those weird hairs. So, ladies, don't be shocked if you find a hairy nip right before or during your period. If an out-of-place hair is making you uncomfortable or you just prefer your nips to be hair-free, feel free to pluck away.
Little bumps have formed around your nipples
If you have those tiny little bumps around your aereolae, don't fret. They're called Aereolae glands, or the Glands of Montgomery — and are so named after William Montgomery, who first described them in his medical papers in 1837.
While scientists aren't exactly sure why they exist, one theory is that they can help with breastfeeding by guiding infants to the nipple. "They can secrete a little bit of fluid, but in general there's no functional purpose to them," Elisa Port, MD, chief of breast surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center told BuzzFeed Life. "Some people think that babies might use them to sort of find their way to the nipple, because of the texture," she says.
They're too big or too small
First of all, no one's nipples are "too big" or "too small." In fact, all nipples are different. Just because you've seen them somewhere portrayed differently than what yours look like, that doesn't mean there's something wrong with yours.
Nipples come in all different shapes and sizes. Flat, puffy, protruding, etc — as long as your nipples have pretty much stayed the same your entire life (aside from pregnancy, which we'll get to in a minute) then you're good!
The color isn't right
Just like nipples come in all different shapes and sizes, the same goes for nipple color. Things like your skin tone, sun exposure (if you're letting yours breath, make sure to lather 'em up with sunscreen!) and hormone levels can change the color of your nipples.
The only thing you have to worry about is if they have suddenly turned red for no apparent reason. It could be something as easily fixable as an infection or something serious like a sign of breast cancer. Talk to your doctor if you notice an immediate change in your nipple color.
They changed during pregnancy
Any woman who's been pregnant has likely seen a change in the color and size of her nipple — namely the aereola. Pregnancy hormones tend to leave the aereola darker and wider in diameter. For some women, the color fades after pregnancy and for others it doesn't.
For some women, it's not just the aereola that can change its appearance during pregnancy — the nipple itself may also get longer or wider; it's different for everyone.
If your nipples don't point outward, but instead point inward, don't worry. Or if only one is inverted and the other points outward, you're still good. It's normal to have an inverted nipple or two — as long as your nipples have always been that way. If you notice a sudden inversion, it could be a sign of breast cancer and you should see your doctor right away.
While inverted nipples don't usually pose a health risk, know that they can make breastfeeding difficult. But Katharine O'Connell White, MD, MPH told BuzzFeed that nipple shields can help. "They put pressure around the areola and the nipple to try to break the little adhesions that hold the nipple inward," O'Connell White says. "If you can break up that tissue, then the nipple will be better able to pop out."
They're seriously sensitive or not at all
If for as long as you can remember your nips have been uber sensitive, it's no big deal. (Maybe you're one of those lucky few who can have an orgasm from nipple stimulation alone.) While it can be frustrating to have to try and protect them the dangers of too much contact or friction on the reg, it's usually nothing to be worried about — especially if your hormone levels are changing.
The same goes if your nipples have basically no feeling at all. Especially if you have breast implants, having minimal sensitivity in your nips is totally normal. Some studies even show that the tops or sides or bottoms of your breast can be more sensitive than the nipple.
You've noticed discharge
Both males and females can experience discharge from their nipples, especially if the nipple or breast has been squeezed. Even if you're not pregnant or breastfeeding, you might still notice discharge.
Call your doctor if the discharge is painful, bloody or green in color. It could mean thyroid disease or breast cancer (yes, even men can get breast cancer).
You have an extra
Just because most people only have two nipples doesn't mean you can't have more! Whether you've got one other nip hanging out on your chest or even up to five extras (researchers once studied a 32-year-old man with seven nipples), think about it like this: the more the merrier.
Extra nipples, called "supernumerary" or "accessory" nipples, can develop along "milk lines" that run from your armpit, through your normal nipples and down your side, typically disappearing in the womb or groin. While research varies on how much of the population actually has extra nipples (reports go from 0.22 percent to 5.6 percent), the general consensus is that more males have them than females.
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