Research has found that nipples have thousands of nerve endings, making them more sensitive than other parts of the body. There are various types of nipples among women. Hence, women often experience hard and erect nipples. Some reasons why nipples get hard are explained as follows:
Is It Normal?
The first and foremost question that comes to mind is whether having hard and erect nipples is normal or not. Yes, random nipple hardness is completely normal from time to time. It can happen out of nowhere. While playing any sport, standing in a grocery store, or doing any of your general stuff.
As per a study, the nerves in the nipples react to psychological and physical stimuli. So due to an arousing thought, something as simple as the fabric of your attire brushing against your skin or a temperature change can cause one or both nipples to become hard and erect.
The Science of Why Nipples Get Hard
According to a study, "Underneath the nipple and areola, i.e., the area surrounding the nipple, there are tiny muscles that contract and pull on the skin and push the nipple out."
In general terms, it can be understood as a response to any kind of stimulation. This means the sympathetic nervous system, the part of the body's neural wiring, makes the heart race; skin gets goosebumps, and palms sweat. These all are kind of signals to the nerves in those tiny little muscles that cause nipples to contract.
The science behind hard nipples can be understood in simple words as:
1. The Stimulation of Erecting Nipples Might Be Sexual
Nipples are a sensitive erogenous zone (a sensitive area on the body that causes sexual arousal when touched). Arousal, whether it is from the physical (touch) or psychological (fantasizing about sex) stimulation. This triggers certain parts of the brain, which cause the muscles in your nipples to become erect.
2. Sometimes Stimulation Isn't Just About the Arousal
Nipples get erect and hard even due to small other reasons like AC is on a high, fall in temperature or freezy air, etc., arousal is not the only reason behind nipples becoming erect.
3. Moreover, Sometimes It Is Not Even Due to Any Kind of Stimulation
Hormones can also make nipples hard. During the menstrual cycle or pregnancy period, there is a profound change in hormones resulting in hard nipples.
Hard And Erect Nipples Causes
1. Allergic reactions cause hard and erect nipples
Sometimes body products may cause an allergic reaction leading to hard and erect nipples. These could be soaps, talcum powders, shower gels, lotions, moisturizers, or creams.
So how can you avoid hard and erect nipples?
- Check the ingredients before trying any new product. Ensure it doesn't have any compound that your skin is not compatible with.
- Apply the new product to the small part of the skin before applying it to your nipples. This is to see if it causes any allergic reaction.
2. Ovulation causes hard and erect nipples
Ovulation happens when the ovary releases a mature egg in the fallopian tube for fertilization. It is a part of the menstrual cycle and occurs on the 14th day. Research suggests that nipples get hard and erect during this time due to hormonal imbalances caused by increased estrogen levels in the body during ovulation.
3. Pregnancy causes hard and erect nipples
Studies have found that people notice erect nipples as an early symptom of pregnancy. Hormonal fluctuation is at its peak when a woman is pregnant. The body is changing to support the development of the baby. Breasts become more prominent, and areolas become prominent and darker. They get filled with a thick, yellowish liquid known as colostrum for breastfeeding.
4. Perimenopause or menopause cause hard and erect nipples
Studies indicate that menopause is the stage where ovulation stops. It happens around the age of 50. With age, ovaries reduce estrogen production, which results in hormonal imbalance. Hormonal imbalance can cause increased breast tenderness. Nipples may become stiff and erect around this time because of women's reproductive hormone secretion changes.
5. Post-menstrual syndrome causes hard and erect nipples
Some women experience bloating, tiredness, muscle pain, cramps, high appetite, indigestion, etc. One of these symptoms includes erect and hard nipples after periods. This is known as a post-menstrual syndrome.
6. Nipple piercings cause hard and erect nipples
Nipple piercings make nipples more sensitive and react to stimuli more quickly. Even a slight touch or fabric rub could cause hard and erect nipples after piercings.
Avoid getting nipple piercings because it may cause bacterial infection. If you want to, get it done from a reputed place under expert supervision.
7. Breastfeeding causes hard and erect nipples
Research has indicated that sometimes breastfeeding causes breast tissue infection known as Mastitis in the initial childbirth period. Reasons could be clogging of milk ducts or bacteria infection due to chapped nipples. This could lead to permanently hard nipples even after breastfeeding.
- Wash hands thoroughly before touching breasts
- Breastfeed your baby frequently
- Wear comfortable clothes
- Do not use creams or ointments on nipples
8. Breast abscess causes hard and erect nipples
If one does not treat Mastitis on time, it forms pus in the nipples. Research recognizes this condition as a Breast Abscess. This is the answer to "How do nipples get hard?" Other reasons for this infection could be nipple piercings, injury, breast implant surgery, cracked nipples, or diabetes. You may experience headaches, nausea, pain, and fever apart from hard and erect nipples in this case.
Consult a doctor if you have any infection symptoms and get it treated on time.
9. Sexual stimulation causes hard and erect nipples
The nerves of your nipples and genitals are connected to the same part of the brain. Any stimulation to them creates the same effect as to your genitals. This is why nipples get hard when your partner touches them. Research indicates that stiff and erect nipples are one of the signs of sexual arousal.
10. Cold weather causes hard and erect nipples
Nerves in the nipples are susceptible to cold weather. They create sensations similar to those of goosebumps. This may cause your nipples to get erect and hard when the temperature drops in the winter season.
- Wear warm clothes
- Drink hot liquids like tea, coffee, hot chocolate, etc.
Also read: What do healthy nipples look like?
Hard and Erect Nipples Treatment
For the treatment of hard and erect nipples, many home remedies are used. Some of these remedies are:
- Cold tea bags
- Warm compresses
Though there is no claim that these remedies are much helpful, in some way, these treatments provide relief, which depends on the cause of symptoms.
When to See a Doctor
Any sort of pain and other symptoms in the nipples can be uncomfortable. Some of the reasons that result in hard and painful nipples are:
- exercise and sports
- allergies and sensitivities
- sexual activity
- menstrual cycle
- birth control
These are rarely the signals of cancer. Sometimes few symptoms may resolve independently, or they may be easy to manage. Men and women who are unable to identify the reason for nipple pain and symptoms are at risk of breast cancer. You should consult a doctor, particularly in the event of unbearable pain and discharge.
Why are my nipples hard and sore even if I am not pregnant?
Your nipples could be hard and sore because of breast abscess, cold weather, allergic reaction to a beauty or medical product, nipple piercing, or ovulation even when you are not pregnant.
How to make your nipples stand out more?
You can stimulate your nipples by squeezing and pinching them gently to make them stand out more.
Are erect nipples a sign of pregnancy?
Pregnancy does cause hard and erect nipples. In the first trimester, women may experience erect nipples more than usual.
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