Why do men have nipples? and What is the purpose of male nipples?
This question has probably been asked or in mind of every man and woman who has ever lived. Are they vestigial? Did men nurse babies at some point? The very existence of male nipples raises a ton of mystifying questions. But in reality, science is well aware of the numerous reasons for why male nipples exist, and the answers are refreshingly straightforward.
Why men have nipples is a fascinating conundrum. The short answer to the question of “why?” is that all fetuses begin as female, and develop certain female characteristics. The long answer involves testosterone, natural selection, and body chemistry.
What is nipple?
They’re basically human udders that all mammals have to provide milk to offspring. The actual nipple is the pointy part that hardens when stimulated or when hit with cold weather. The areola is the circular area that surrounds the nipple.
If nipples are for milk, why male have?
Good question. In the first four weeks of development in the womb, human embryos follow a sort of genetic and developmental blueprint – essentially, a female one. During those four weeks, a fetus will begin to grow like a female, regardless of what sex and gender it turns out to be. At week four, the Y chromosome begins to kick in, and the fetus becomes male. Before then, the baby has already started to develop some female characteristics, including nipples.
Males Develop Milk Lines Before Chromosomes Kick In
As a fetus grows in the womb, one of the first things it develops is milk lines that run from the upper torso to the lower abdomen. These milk lines actually develop before either the XX chromosomes or the XY chromosomes kick in.
Once chromosomes are in play, the milk lines begin to recede. The baby has then left a noticeable mark where the milk lines once extended to, as well as milk-producing glands called lobules. Females eventually develop breasts. Males just get a pair of nipples.
Testosterone In The Womb Makes Nipple Smaller
The presence of testosterone in the womb spurs the fetus’s body to shrink those milk lines and breast tissue. The Y chromosome begins to change the genetic activity in a male’s cells, particularly in his genitals and brain. These changes impede any further development in the nipples and mammary papillae (the breasts) and even begin to shrink them somewhat. However, a fetus’s body doesn’t produce enough testosterone to make nipples go away or shrink to an unnoticeable size. So, all babies are born with nipples, regardless of sex.
In fact, in the womb, all of us had multiple nipples!
Humans can be born with extra nipples, and it tends to happen more often to males than females. By some counts, the rate of increased nipple growth is one in every forty newborn babies. These bonus nipples often show up on the left side of male bodies and tend to be small and underdeveloped. They are usually harmless and can be easily removed.
So that’s how some people have third nipples?
You’re spot on again, my friend. That’s exactly why some people still have third, fourth or even fifth (?) nipples because they haven’t involuted in the uterus. Some people were simply blessed with more than two. That includes actors like Harry Styles, Mark Wahlberg, and Tilda Swinton. Called “supernumerary” nipples, they can look like extra breasts with tissue, or simply a mole.
K. That’s cool and all, but can I lactate?
Technically, yes, It seems like a reasonable assumption that men’s nipples are completely non-functioning. But that’s not the always the case. Mothers have a hormone called prolactin, which helps them with breast milk development. This hormone can pass from the mom to the baby via the placenta. When this happens, babies’ bodies might try to lactate as well. Some newborn boys will begin to leak milk from their nipples, in a phenomenon known as “witch’s milk.”
This can also happen later in life as well, but in that case, male lactation is usually linked with hormone imbalance or illness.
Stimulating nipples. Sounds sexual, lol.
Well, a lot of guys do have sensitivity in their nipples. Just like women, playing with nipples triggers pleasure in the brain. Some even report they can reach climax simply from nipple play. “That’s the part of the sexual arousal mostly in females but we do see it in many males,” says Dr. Potparic says. “We don’t always see sexual stimulation with men but many times it’s definitely sensitive.”
So when you’re referring to fatty tissue, is this what you’d call a ‘man boob?’
Man boob, guy jugs, whatever you may call it, it can definitely be an insecurity for a lot of men. The medical term for this is gynecomastia, where male breast tissue swells due to a reduction of testosterone and increase of estrogen. This can be caused by medications, puberty, aging, being overweight, among other issues. It’s also the number one concern for plastic surgeons when they see men.
With breast tissue, then, can I get breast cancer?
Yes, but it’s very, very rare. There are reported to be 2,400 men who are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. If you find a lump or unusual bleeding, talk to your physician immediately.