What Are Inverted Nipples, And What Do They Mean For Health? | Men's Health Magazine Australia

What Are Inverted Nipples – And What Does It Mean If You Have Them?

Some things in life are absolutely certain: The sky is blue, Chris Hemsworth is the best Hollywood Chris, and nipples always point outward…right?

Yes, definitely, to the first two—but as for the nipples thing? Maybe not. You see, while most nipples point outward (hello, headlights), it’s totally possible for some types to, uh, retreat back into the pecs.

Sometimes, it’s totally NBD (you were born that way, baby); but other times, your nips might be trying to tell you something big is up—and you’d better listen.

Hold on, what exactly are inverted nipples?

Basically, they’re nipples that appear to be retracted into the breast, instead of pointing outward.

Fewer than 5 percent of people are born with inverted nipples, says Dr. Stephanie Downs-Canner, an assistant professor of oncological breast surgery at the University of North Carolina.

This can happen when the lactiferous ducts in your nipples—yes men have these too—are shortened or not fully developed, ultimately pulling back on the nipple. In these cases, the direction of the nipples is not necessarily indicative of anything, says Downs-Canner.

However, if your nipples have always pointed out, and now they’ve suddenly become inverted, that might be a red flag.

Well, what causes inverted nipples, and should I worry about them?

Again, if your nipples have always been inverted, take a seat, you’re good.

As for everyone else, one of the first things Downs-Canner checks up on when she encounters a newly inverted nipple is the possibility of an underlying cancer. For this reason, she stresses seeing a physician the moment you notice your nipple’s retracted in order to increase your chances of early detection.

But, while a sudden change in your nipples is something to definitely get checked out, your mind shouldn’t go straight to a cancer diagnosis: “Other [peope] can have inverted or retracted nipples if they’ve had a lot of infections of their breast,” says Downs-Canner.

Mastitis—inflammation of the breast tissue—is an example of one of those infections that can cause retracted nipples, says Downs-Canner.

Another benign cause of nipple inversion: ectasia. “It happens when the ducts of the breast become frequently blocked or clogged,” says Downs-Canner. “It can happen to anyone,” at any time, says Downs-Canner.

Well, is there anything I can do about inverted nipples?

Depending on the cause, your nipple might eventually pop out again. After treatment for a breast infection, for example, there’s a good chance your nipples will return to their original proud stances, says Downs-Canner.

For those born with inverted nipples, plastic surgery can help make them stick out, says Downs-Canner, though, not a ton of people opt to do this (and it’s also not medically necessary): “Most people who are born with inverted nipples typically don’t seek cosmetic surgery,” she says.

A version of this article originally appeared on Women’s Health US.

The Relationship Advice Sylvester Stallone Gave His Daughter

The Relationship Advice Sylvester Stallone Gave His Daughter

When it comes to icons of the screen, Sylvester Stallone is up there with the best. The man who made the movie training montage a prerequisite for any sporting flick, particularly those of the boxing variety, became a household name since bursting onto our screens in...

How Michael Clarke Transformed His Body In 12 Weeks

How Michael Clarke Transformed His Body In 12 Weeks

PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS MOHEN A decade ago, when Michael Clarke became Test captain of Australia, he took control of an institution. Recently, after a milestone birthday, he resolved to take control of his own body, targeting it over 12 weeks for a transformation that...

Why The Mind Not Body Is The Key To Being A Baller

Why The Mind Not Body Is The Key To Being A Baller

There are very few poor athletes in the NBA. Athleticism or skill, often both, are a given at the elite level. But what separates the very best – MJ, LeBron, Steph and Giannis – from the rest, isn’t something you can track by measuring a player’s wingspan or vertical...

George Clooney On Turning 60 And Fatherhood In The Pandemic

George Clooney On Turning 60 And Fatherhood In The Pandemic

Few people can be likened to a fine wine that gets better with age, but for George Clooney, such a label seems fitting. This is, of course, a man who seemingly popularised the phrase “silver fox”, someone who men turn to for inspiration on fashion and grooming, and...

Recommended to you

More From