Is It Normal To Have Different Shapes Of The Nipple?

The appearance of the nipples can vary significantly from person to person.

There are no normal nipples and there is no official medical definition of breast types. Nipples may be protruding, raised, hairy, inverted, flat, bumpy, or a combination of these.

Usually, the appearance of the nipples does not make a difference in their function and does not pose a risk.

Some people have more than two breasts; Additional nipples are called upper nipples. Some people do not have nipples and doctors call it athelia.

People sometimes describe different types of breasts in the context of breastfeeding. This is because some types of nipples may be more difficult for a baby to suckle. However, most breast types do not cause any problems during breastfeeding.

Having flat, large, or inverted nipples can sometimes, but not always, make breastfeeding difficult, according to the Office of Women’s Health (OWH).

General Breast Types

Everyone’s breast type is different.

Also, a person may notice differences in the appearance of each of their breasts. This is normal and sets another example of how each individual is unique.

If the nipples are very large, inverted, or flat, the baby may have more difficulty attaching while nursing. A medical professional can advise and help develop techniques to encourage baby to wear.

Puffy nipples: Some people have swollen nipples and protruding areola.

hairy nipples: Some people’s nipples are surrounded by hairs, sometimes with a few or many hairs.

Protruding nipples: Protruding nipples protrude from the areola. The amount the nipples eject varies between people.

Inverted nipples: Some people’s nipples go inwards. They may protrude or remain inverted when aroused by cold or sexual arousal.

Flat nipples: Some people’s nipples are flat, neither protruding nor inverted.

protruding nipples: Some people’s nipples are more bumpy with bumps, typically over the areola.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some nipple-related changes can be warning signs of breast cancer:

  • If nipples hurt
  • If there is discharge of fluid other than breast milk
  • If boobs feel weird

Anyone experiencing any of these changes should speak to a doctor.

Less Common Breast Types

Some people have more than two nipples.

According to the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center, these additional nipples usually occur along embryonic milk lines, where the body is more likely to develop breast tissue.

Most of the time, a person does not need treatment for a supernumerary nipple. However, as with any nipple, if it is sore or if a person notices any changes, they should speak to a medical professional.

Absence of Nipples

The person may not have any nipples. Doctors call it athelia.

A person with athelia may choose to have plastic surgery to show their nipples. In some cases, this may involve reconstruction with skin grafts from another part of the body, such as the thigh.

During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

If a baby has difficulty breastfeeding while breastfeeding, the OWH recommends:

  • Make sure the environment is calm.
  • Let the baby touch the skin.
  • Let the baby continue to suckle.
  • Support baby’s head and shoulders.
  • Let the breast rest naturally.

During pregnancy, the nipples and areola may darken due to hormonal changes. The bumps in the areola, which are glands called Montgomery’s tubercles, may also become more prominent or otherwise change.

Towards the end of pregnancy, the mother may have a yellow discharge from the breast and leakage of colostrum, which is early breast milk. It contains antibodies that help protect the newborn from infections.

While breastfeeding, a woman’s nipples may ache, crack, and change shape. OWH recommends reducing pain by keeping the nipples moist – either with breast milk or breastfeeding creams – and by changing the way the baby sucks on the nipple.

Differences in Men and Women

There is little cosmetic difference between male and female nipples. However, there can be significant differences from person to person.

Types of Areola

A person’s areos can be large, small, bumpy, smooth, hairy, or hairless.

If pain is felt or if he notices any changes, he should speak to a medical professional as these symptoms may indicate an underlying problem.

Otherwise, areola variations are just as common as any other nipple variation.

In summary;

Nipples vary considerably from person to person, and a person may have different types of nipples. All of these changes are normal.

Some types of breasts can cause problems while breastfeeding, but medical professionals can help find ways to encourage a baby to suckle successfully.

If nipples are sore or begin to change, contact a medical professional. They can determine if there are any underlying problems and whether they require treatment.

Medical News Today, Different types of nipples, 2019

References:

Body changes and discomforts. (2019). https://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/youre-pregnant-now-what/body-changes-and-discomforts

Common breastfeeding challenges. (2018). https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-challenges/common-breastfeeding-challenges

Getting a good latch. (2018). https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/learning-breastfeed/getting-good-latch

Ishida, LH, et al. (2005). Athelia: Case report and review of the literature. https://www.jprasurg.com/article/S0007-1226(05)00048-2/fulltext

Kumari, R., et al. (2007). A clinical study of skin changes in pregnancy. http://www.ijdvl.com/article.asp?issn=0378-6323;year=2007;volume=73;issue=2;spage=141;epage=141;aulast=Kumari

Making breastmilk. (2018). https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/learning-breastfeed/making-breastmilk

Supernumerary nipple. (n.d.). https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/2259/supernumerary-nipple

What are the symptoms of breast cancer? (2018). https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/symptoms.htm

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