Breast Nipple size and shape common concerns

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Sister Nadi
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Breast Nipple size and shape common concerns

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Nipple shape worries
Many women worry if their nipple looks funny or odd or is inverted. Some worry about hair, or those 'bumps', or the shape or the size. It's been amazing to observe how MUCH women indeed angst over these things - mostly in vain...
...because there is enormous variation in nipple and areola size and shape among normal women! For example, areola size and color varies with women. Also, areola color can appear darker when it's hot because of increased circulation, just like your skin appears redder when the blood vessels dilate near the skin in hot weather.


Bumps on areola
If you worry about those 'funny bumps' on the areola, those are supposed to be there; they are called Montgomery glands or areolar skin glands. Their function is partially unknown, but scientists suppose they secrete a liquid that lubricates the nipple/areola area.

These Montgomery glands can be about unnoticeable, OR stand out as bumps on the areola. They often become more prominent during pregnancy. Also, it appears they are white in some women.
Some women have squeezed them and can get a white substance out, but please do NOT squeeze them because that causes them to become infected.

In one study, it was noted that women with more areolar glands had better or more optimal breastfeeding start after delivery. They also noted that the glands were seen in virtually all women in the study but with great interindividual variations; their areolar distribution was nonrandom, and about 1/5 of the women had glands giving off a secretion (this is about women who have just given birth)

Hairs on areola/nipple
Also, many women have some hairs around the nipple (on the areola). This is perfectly normal because there are hair follicles in the areola. There is no need to "treat" the hair, but if you absolutely don't like them, trim them carefully with scissors. Don't pluck them with force, because that can make them grow back thicker and darker, or cause them go become ingrown under the skin which leads to scarring. It is also possible that the hair follicle gets obstructed, which can cause a sebaceous cyst to form under the skin, or that the follicle gets infected. Apart from using scissors to remove the hair on areola, laser hair removal treatment is also possible.

However, if the hairs are so many that they mimic the male hair pattern on chest or if they keep growing in larger and larger quantities, that may mean that the body has higher levels of androgens (male hormones) than normal. If a woman has excessive hair growing in typical male hair pattern, the symptom is called hirsutism. There are many causes for hirsutism.

One common cause for such hirsutism is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). However, don't use the mere existence of hair as a "diagnosis" for that but consider all the other factors and possible symptoms as well.
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Sister Nadi
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Re: Breast Nipple size and shape common concerns

Unread post by Sister Nadi »

Puffy or flat nipples
If your nipples are 'puffy' and not constantly erect they are called flat nipples. That is perfectly normal too, and fairly common among teens. Typically the nipple "sticks out" (becomes erect) when stimulated by cold, clothing, or rubbing.
This puffy or flat appearance may stay as it is until a woman becomes pregnant. For most women with flat nipples, the nipples evert (poke out) during pregnancy as the elasticity of the skin changes. Even if not, a full-term baby can usually suck out a flat nipple.

Also it's a total misconception that all females get erect nipples in sexual activity like men get an erect penis... not every woman does. Nipples are not to be compared to penises. The organ in females that corresponds to the male penis is clitoris, and clitoris can and does become erect (it is just harder to notice).

When it comes to babies, babies don't suck on nipples—they take in a big mouthful. It's not the nipple that receives the sucking action—it's the areola that they "suck" and the nipple just releases the milk.

An illustration tells this better than words. The nipple is completely inside the mouth, not visible from outside. Babies don't "nibble" on nipples. The nipple looks long because it does get stretched when nursing... but that does not hurt. Also, women's nipples do get larger during pregnancy.


Erect nipples poking through clothing

In some women, the nipples stay erect (stick out) all the time, and can easily be seen through clothing. If this bothers you, there exist "nipple covers" - little skin-colored round things made of silicone that attach to the skin and can hide the nipples from being seen. Search for "silicone nipple covers" online, or ask for them in a bra store.


"Hard nipples" - areola or nipple skin

It is a normal reaction to the coldness, to irritation, or to stimulation. The little muscles in the areola do a goosebump thing similar to what your other skin does. People often call this phenomenon "hard nipples".

Also note that the skin on areola has less feeling or sensation than other areas of your body. If the areola was very sensitive, then breastfeeding would probably be quite uncomfortable because the baby pulls and tugs it! The nipples are sensitive, but the sensitivity changes with hormonal changes, such as with the mestrual cycle or pregnancy. Also, this varies among individuals.

The skin on the nipple and areola can also be flaky or scaly, with little scales of skin coming off. This is likely just dry skin or eczema (far more likely). It could also be a symptom of Paget's disease (rare).

Areola color
Areola skin tones are caused by two pigments: red and brown. Therefore, the resulting areola color can be various shades of pink and brown till very dark brown. Dark skinned individuals usually have a darker areola than light-skinned individuals. However, areola color also varies quite a bit between individuals. Some pale-skinned individuals can have totally pale areolas where it does not appear darker than the other skin.

During pregnancy, the areola usually darkens substantially. This will create a large contrast between the areola and the rest of the breast. Newborns have limited vision, but can see such a contrast easily, and thereby the darkened areola helps the newborn locate the nipple. In a few months after giving birth, the areola will start fading. However, it usually does not fade back to the pre-pregnancy color but remains slightly darker.

Areola color is also known to change because of hormonal changes, birth control pills, aging, or because of certain medications.

An inverted nipple
An inverted nipple is 'turned inside' instead of pointing outside. It appears like a indentation in the middle of the areola.
It is possible to "coach" the inverted nipple out so it becomes an 'outie' and everts.
If a nipple that was an "outie" suddenly inverts, this along other symptoms such as itching and pain may be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer.
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Aunty Nurse
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Re: Breast Nipple size and shape common concerns

Unread post by Aunty Nurse »

Very educative.
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