The nipple is a sensitive part of the human body that can be easily irritated, and it’s not unusual that we find them hurting from time to time. It may be alarming at first, but there are various reasons why your nipples might hurt. Oftentimes nipple pain can stem from less serious causes like ill-fitting clothing, but there are more serious causes to watch out for, too, like infections (via Live Science). As nipple pain can vary from person to person, it’s important to pay close attention to your body and seek a medical professional if you are concerned.
Your clothing might be making your nipples hurt
Since nipples are one of the body’s most erogenous zones, they are very sensitive and are often affected by clothing that doesn’t fit quite right (via WebMD). For instance, if you’re not wearing a bra while exercising, a loose shirt could rub against your nipples and cause irritation. This repeated rubbing motion will create friction on the nipple and can even cause bleeding. Likewise, bras that don’t fit correctly can cause pain because of the rubbing action with the fabric against skin. The pain associated with this type of friction feels sore and can cause a stinging sensation. The nipple is essentially dry and chapped. If this is an issue for you, try finding bras and tops that fit you properly or cover your nipples with a bandage or nipple guards when exercising.
Your nipples might hurt due to your period or pregnancy
The breast is one of the best ways to know if your period is coming, and sore nipples can be an indication that it’s about to be that time of the month. This is because the breasts and breast tissue can swell because of rising estrogen and progesterone levels that occur before and during your period (via Healthline).
If the pain continues when your period stops, it could be coming from something else. Hormone changes during pregnancy can be another reason for nipple tenderness. If you have missed your period, have any vomiting, feel lethargic, and are urinating more than usual, you could be pregnant (via WebMD). Your nipples may also leak when your due date is around the corner. In order to prevent nipple pain during pregnancy (because who needs more discomfort), look into getting a maternity bra that fits your breasts well.
An infection might be causing nipple pain
If you’re breastfeeding, sore nipples usually come with the territory. But if you nipple soreness lasts a fews days, it could be due to an infection. Dr. Ram Prasad explains to Cosmopolitan, “This most commonly will be diagnosed as a benign condition called ‘periductal mastitis,’ when the nipple becomes inflamed, tender and hot to touch.” According to Live Science, when bacteria enters the skin through a crack in nipple tissue, an infection can cause pain and itching. A mammogram or an ultrasound scan is the best way to get to the root of the infection.
Some medications can cause nipple sensitivity
This may be a less obvious reason for nipple pain, but starting or changing medications can “have side effects that cause nipple sensitivity or even discharge the nipple,” Jenna Sassie, M.D. tells Women’s Health. “These can be herbal supplements or prescriptions, especially psychiatric drugs.” Additionally, if you stop a medication cold turkey, nipple pain could be a side effect. Make sure to check with your doctor before changing or stopping a medication.
If your nipple pain lasts more than a few days, if you experience discharge (but are not breastfeeding), see changes to the skin around the nipple, or have symptoms of infection including chills and fever, always consult a doctor (via Medical News Today).
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