When a woman looks below her chin she is aware of her own special and unique body—and nipples are part of that uniqueness. Indeed nipples vary in shape and size from flat, to pointed, to having one or 2 “lobes” at the tip, to bumpy, to looking like a dimple, or to being a total “innie”. And all variations are perfectly normal. Most nipples do stick out a bit, from 5-10 mm. But for both women and men having one or both nipples not prominent can be the cause of personal self-consciousness, and with woman, concerns with regard to potential breastfeeding.
What Causes Inverted Nipples?
Flat or inverted nipples are actually pretty common. About 10-20 percent of all women are born with them. Inverted nipples from birth are not medically harmful. There are actually 2 types of inverted nipples. Many health professionals may refer to “shy” nipples. A shy nipple can be pulled inwards, but at other times protrude. A “shy” nipple can point out in cold temperatures such as cold water, or can be brought out with some massage or stimulation.
True inverted nipples are present from birth, and do not protrude with cold or stimulation. The cause is usually from connections in underlying tissue, ligaments and the skin. Ligaments along the milk ducts, which connect to the nipples, are shorter and pull the nipple in towards the breast tissue.
If nipples seem inverted later in life, or after breastfeeding, the cause can be that the skin of the breast can become looser and relax around the nipples making the nipples to appear to be inverted. However, if a nipple has not always been inverted and suddenly does so, it is important to see your doctor right away to determine if there is some other medical cause.
Research indicates that about 28 to 35 percent of women, who are pregnant for the first time, have nipples that don’t protrude that well. And 10% are considered inverted nipples. That is quite common indeed. However, inverted nipples should not interfere with sexual enjoyment and may not even be a problem with breastfeeding. Many women with inverted nipples may find that during their pregnancy, or during breastfeeding, their nipples come out either temporarily or sometimes permanently. With proper breastfeeding technique an infant can latch onto the areola—around the nipple-- so women with inverted nipples can breastfeed without necessarily any difficulty. Additionally, an infant who latches on well may actually be able to draw out an inverted nipple.
The use of suction devices such as a breast pump right before feeding may help to bring out an inverted nipple. Health professionals do recommend that you take special precautions to keep your breasts and nipples clean, as you can be prone to infection if there is discharge and the nipples are inside folds of skin.
If you are planning a pregnancy or at the beginning of one, it is important to get your breasts checked by your doctor to discuss any of your concerns with breastfeeding.
Aids to Inverted Nipples
If you are unsure whether or not you have a true inverted nipple or nipples, there are some simple home practices that have been effective for many women.
You might try to coax the nipple out with ice or stimulation.
Another method some women have found helpful is by gentle rolling the nipple.
Devices and Surgery
There are choices of devices available for aiding a shy or inverted nipple to protrude. Some women have found these devices helpful, others not at all. The determination of the effectiveness of these devices in making a cosmetic change is individual. Devices include the niplette, nipple rings, a nipple protractor constructed from a disposable syringe, and the Hoffman technique, a nipple stretching technique.
There is product known as Breast shells found in maternity shops or online that have been found to be helpful by some women. They are a small plastic discs with a hole in the center, which allows the nipple to protrude. A dome to allow air to circulate covers the disc. The shell exerts some pressure, which can encourage the nipple to stand out. They are worn inside the bra.
Surgery is usually only chosen after a family is completed and/or when breastfeeding is no longer considered. There are several different procedures that can be used. However, these options should be explored and discussed with your doctor to determine your goals and outcomes. The operation can be performed under local anesthetic. Some surgeries are promoted as simple procedures that do not effect breast-feeding potential. However other surgery procedures divides the breast ducts beneath the nipple, or cuts the milk duct, which can affect breast-feeding.
Hi! I'm 13 years old and I've noticed that I've had an inverted nipple for about a year now. I am very scared that it could be breast cancer or something. I check it everyday to make sure it's not getting worse. I look at my other nipple and it's completely normal. It is truly scaring me! Should I tell my mother? and Is there any possible way of fixing it? :/
heather - 23-Apr-13 @ 9:45 PM
hi, my daughter is 9 yrs old and her one of the nipple is inverted. i 've often realised that there is a kind of dry wound in it , which needs to be cleansed at bathing time. i'm worried for her , as how should i proceed for her recovery so that she doesn't faces any problem in her future. pls mail the reply asap. thanking you....
mother - 16-Apr-13 @ 5:41 AM
I have inverted nipples which causes me to loose sexual desires cause im afraid that the men wont like it and end up leaving me cause of it....so id rather spare myself from the embarrasment of being rejected cause of my nipples.......so my question now is...IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO TO GET NORMAL NIPPLES? PLEASE HELP!
Deli-Baby - 23-Dec-12 @ 7:46 PM
Im a a young adult women , who also has shy nipples . I find them very unattractive I wonder what I could do to get them out . Or if they will ever come out ?
Lily - 23-Dec-12 @ 2:58 AM
Is grade 3 inverted nipple dishcarge normal for a 16 year old
Florencia - 10-Oct-12 @ 9:41 PM
Hi I'm 14 and I have 1 inverted nipple its horrible is there anything I can do ?
becca - 7-Oct-12 @ 11:11 PM
Are shy nipples harmful?
I'm 17, I have small hairy breast with shy nipples, I mean they protrude in cold temp.
How to overcome/cure these shy nipples?
I'm not sure whether they are inverted or shy? but for sure,they protrude in cold temp.
Is this normal?
I'm really worried?
Gudi - 29-Sep-12 @ 7:53 PM
Hi im 14, i think i have one inverted nipple. Sometimes it looks like there is not even a nipple inside there and other times it is just flat/very slightly raised. my other nipple does not protrude alot but is not inverted and has just developed out over the last year or so , could my other nipple still grow?
zabsy - 25-Jul-12 @ 1:36 PM
Okay, so I have inverted nipples too. I'm 15 and I'm SO embarrased about it. They come out if they get cold but I'm really embarassed of them. I dont want a relationship because I'm scared that if I do anything with a guy, he will make fun of them. Are they unattractive????
Ava - 8-Jul-12 @ 1:00 AM
Hi wonder could anyone help me i had a baby two years ago and my nipples were normal now I have one inverted nipple which sometimes is itchy and sometimes a little sore wonder does anyone know any info on this problem thanks
Pippa - 8-Jun-12 @ 11:00 AM
I'm 35 year old. I like if some body drink my nipples, i get very excited. what is this
rohan - 24-May-12 @ 6:46 PM
I have recently given birth to my beautiful baby boy - whom i breast fed after 10 days of breast feeding i had to stop as i was not producing enough milk for him , but after i stopped breast feeding my right nipple has inverted, Before i fell pregnant my nipples were normal what should or can i do to fix it? please reply
maz - 11-Apr-12 @ 1:12 AM
I want to say to all the self conscious young women on this forum that it seriously doesn't matter what your breasts look like to the men you are with! If they're decent people and attracted to you, they won't care less what you look like under your clothes. It makes me sad that your inverted nipples are crippling your confidence. I have two inverted nipples but one of them is just "shy" and the other one never comes out. I'm in my 30s and I've been with many men and not one of them ever even said anything unless I brought it up. And even then they say "I don't care." or "they're cool" or something like that. It actually makes you kind of special! Men will feel lucky to be with you no matter what your breasts look like. TRUST ME!!!
jojo - 13-Feb-12 @ 8:51 PM
Im 14 and I've always had inverted nipples, I've never seen them and I'm really scared about getting older and having to show my boyfriend. Im so scared and i don't know what to do
Angelina - 31-Dec-11 @ 1:22 AM
Hii Im 12 !! and I have Shy Nipples .. I Show My Friends Some Pictures (Inverted Nipples Pics) And They Always Laugh and Say Thats Just Disgusting And I laugh With Them . Its made Me Soooo Consous !! And It made Mee Feel Soo Put Off By My Self ... I think i Just need Some incouragement !! Cause When Im 18 Im Going To be Scared to Wear Tini Dresses Cause i Have seen loads of Cases where wemon With No braa .There Dress Just Slighly Showing (Something !) . If I Dont Wear a Braa .. Youu can See the outline !! Soo Imbarrasing !
NatDInDaHouse - 15-Dec-11 @ 8:41 PM
Hi, I am 23 years old and have had "shy" nipples since childhood. The first man I was with didn't notice (or if he did he didn't comment). But a year ago, my fiance (whom I have been with for close to 7 years) commented on them, and asked why they were going the wrong way! I laughed and told him why and it hasn't come up again. If a man truly loves you or is in to you, I promise it won't matter!! And hey, at least you're unique!
sherri-ann - 11-Oct-11 @ 2:42 AM
hi!!! here i am again... i am so happy that i heard such interesting words from a man.... those words made me think about my problem... butdont know if all men have this thought... maybe my first man will be shocked by this "view" .... if this happen i will not know how to face it... because a bigpart of men think that all ladies have nipples
maria - 26-Jul-11 @ 9:53 AM
I'm only 13 but I know I have inverted nipples I get really self conscious about it and I was wondering what could help them look more normal.Thanks
Tara - 26-Jun-11 @ 10:28 PM
As a man I can bring you good news, men don't really care about such little things. If a guy shows he likes you, he likes you. Feel free to be a little shy on it but men are not perfect beings themselves, if you can bring yourself to like a guy for all his wrongs then he can like you.
Sreimund - 19-Jun-11 @ 11:35 PM
Hi, I am 19 years old and about 2 years ago one of my nipples suddenly went inverted. I am now really self concious and dont want to get into a relationship because of it. I dont go out anymore and also it has really effected the way I am, I cant walk down the street or into a shop without feeling really anxious. I just want to hide away and this has only happened since the inverted nipple occured. It really has changed my life completely, I used to be so outgoing and not really have a care in the world about what people think of me but now I have no confidence in myself to do anything. What can I do? Please help me!
Missi - 5-Jun-11 @ 12:02 AM
Hello, I am 16 years old. a year ago I went for first time to a gynecologist and she told me that I have shy nipples. Unfortunately I feel so bad and that it will prevent me from starting a relationship. I am scared if my boyfriend will not like my breast. What can I do? Please answer to my email. thank you