Wondering if your nipples are weird? That’s normal.
When I was a kid entering puberty, I got breasts before any of my friends did. Other than my mother, I had no one to compare my rack to, and so, I kind of just assumed that all breasts and their nipple companions were pretty much the same shapes, size and colours, and that mine were probably par for the course.
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It wasn’t until I watched “Braveheart” (of all things) and saw naked female breasts on the big screen for the first time that I realized breasts were all different, and mine might not be exactly what Hollywood had in mind for its leading ladies.
Which naturally left me asking, “Why are my nipples so big?”
I’ve got big breasts (and I cannot lie). Currently, I am a UK size 42GG. I know this because I buy almost all of my bras from the UK, where they provide more stylish, s£xy options for the bigger busted gal.
I also know this because, for whatever reason, I feel less embarrassed saying that I’m a size 42GG than I am saying my US size, which is 42J.
For the longest time, I thought my large breasts and big, pale nipples were odd or strange or not quite right.
But then, as my friends began to develop and we become more comfortable talking about our bodies with one another, I started to realize I wasn’t the only one worried that my breasts and their accompanying nipples were strange mammary oddities. The women around me felt exactly the same way!
In fact, one of the only things we were all positive about was that our nipples were “wrong”.
Some worried their nipples were too long, other’s that their nipples were too short, and still others like me worried their nipples and surrounding areola were way too big.
Is such a thing possible? I decided to investigate further, so let’s break down the truth about your big nipples and what they mean about your appearance and physical well-being once and for all.
Here are 6 key facts to know about nipples and their sizes, shapes and colours.
1. All nipples are different.
Hey, guess what? Much like the now much-maligned snowflake, no two pairs of nipples are exactly alike. Heck, though they may look similar at a glance, even your own two nipples don’t look exactly like each other.
While symmetry is considered by some to the standard of beauty, the honest truth is that not many people possess completely symmetrical features anywhere on their bodies.
Having big nipples is not weird, and you’re not the only one who has them. And having nipples small is not weird. You’re not the only one who has those, either.
Having nipples that are the same colour as the rest of your breast is not weird. Having nipples that are darker than the rest of your breast is not weird.
Breasts, like the people who have them, are all different.
2. Nipples are surrounded by the areola, which does have an average size.
While every breast is different (and sacred — thanks, “Monty Python”, for letting me bastardize that quote), research reveals that the average areola — the colored area of skin surrounding your nipple — is 4 centimetres.
But if your nipples and areolas are smaller or bigger than average, that doesn’t mean you’re odd or that you need to go see your doctor.
Lots of factors go into determining nipple size, including the size of your breasts themselves. Additional research has found that the areola is typically three times smaller than the size of the breast itself, and three times larger than the nipple.
So if you’re really keen to know if this little fact applies to you and your nipples, go ahead and break out the measuring tape, pour some wine … and let your partner know things are about to get weird.
3. There are somewhere between 4-8 different types of nipples.
While all nipples are different, they do typically fall into one of four to eight different nipple types, which include:
One breast with a protruding nipple and the other with an inverted nipple
One flat and one protruding
One flat and one inverted
One flat, protruding or inverted and one unclassified4. Nipple size and colour can change over time.
Breasts, like the rest of our bodies, change throughout our lifetimes for a variety of different reasons.
You’ll first notice that your nipple size and colour change when you enter puberty. During this time in your life, your body begins producing more estrogen, causing your nipples to grow along with your breast as your areolas typically darken.
Because your breasts are growing at this time, your areola may appear to be smaller because of the relative size difference.
Another time when you can expect to notice a change in your nipples is during pregnancy and breastfeeding. When you’re pregnant, your body is doing a lot of stuff to help nourish the developing fetus and to help prepare you to breastfeed, additionally, it is believed women’s areolas often grow bigger and darker during this stage in order to make the nipples easier for baby to find and latch onto.
Similarly, changes in your nipples’ size, shape and colour can be expected at any time when you experience hormonal fluctuations, such as when you take birth control bills, during your menstrual cycle, and during menopause.
5. There’s no known correlation between nipple colour and size.
Areolas and nipples that appear darker can stand out more, making them look bigger, but that’s just an optical illusion.
The only time you need to worry about the size of your nipples and their colour is if you notice a sudden and dramatic change outside of puberty, pregnancy, or other known reasons for hormonal shifts.
There are, of course, plastic surgeons who are eager to help women change the shape or size of their nipples through areola reduction surgery. Obviously, your body is your own to do with as you see fit, but if the only reason you’re thinking of going under the knife is that you think your big nipples are weird, know that is not the case.
While nipple pain and soreness are common in most women on occasion, if your nipples produce discharge (other than breast milk after giving birth) at any time, look suddenly or unevenly misshapen or discoloured, or you begin to experience constant nipple pain that won’t go away, talk to your doctor STAT.
6. Some people are born with more than two nipples — and some are born with none.
Some people have two nipples on one areola, known as a double and bifurcated nipple.
Supernumerary nipples, also known as polymastia or polythelia, are believed to be rare and most commonly appear along the “milk line” — the area on the front of your body that starts in your armpit and goes down through and past your nipples to your genital area. An estimated 1 in 18 people have a third nipple, although cases of people being born with as many as eight nipples to have been recorded.
Athelia is the name for a rare condition in which a person is born with no nipples at all. If so desired, they can be created via reconstructive surgery and nipple-areolar tattoos.