Everything you wanted to know about inverted nipples (but were too afraid to ask)

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Inverted nipples might sound like a scary term. Your nipples are . . .  inverted? Let us be the first to tell you that inverted nipples on your breasts are totally not a scary thing and medical professionals see them plenty. What do they look like, exactly? An inverted nipple “does not protrude out away from the areola (the dark area around the nipple) when a woman is cold or excited,” Dr. Nancy Hurst, director of Women’s Support Services at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women in Houston, told HelloGiggles over email.

We asked her and several other professionals our most common questions about inverted nipples — starting with how you will know if you have them!

“Do I have inverted nipples?”

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Probably not. “Although there are no accurate numbers on how common inverted nipples are, most lactation consultants – who have seen a lot of nipples in their careers! – would tell you that they are not that common,” Dr. Hurst explained. “A woman can tell if she has inverted nipples if when she gently squeezes the areola with her fingers the nipple doesn’t protrude out – some will even retract back into the breast.” If you have a question about how your nipples look, it’s best to ask your doctor what’s up.

“Does having inverted nipples make pregnancy or breastfeeding more difficult?”

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Luckily, there is no reason that a pregnancy shouldn’t proceed as normal if the mother has inverted nipples, even when it comes to breastfeeding. Dr. Hurst has worked with breastfeeding moms for over 30 years and said she’s only met very few — “less than 5” — who struggled with breastfeeding due to inverted nipples. “This was because when the infant latched on, the breast tissue actually closed around the nipple and the milk could not flow out,” she explained. “However, when they used a breast pump, they could get the milk to flow.” It’s important to remember, of course, that there are lots of ways to feed a baby and there’s no shame in trying whatever works for your and your little one.

“How do inverted nipples affect my sex life?”

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We all know that the nipples are one of our biggest erogenous zones. But does it feel good to be touched there when you’ve got inverted nipples? The good news is: YES. “The main issue for many women is shame or embarrassment about their nipples being different,” explained Dr. Nancy Sutton Pierce, author of A Guide For Men… 10 Keys To Unlock Your Woman’s Sexual Desire! “The sensitivity (which greatly varies woman to woman anyway) has the potential of being as wonderful as an extroverted nipple. Sensory nerves are not the same as contraction nerves (the nerves that make the nipple erect).”

Of course, being comfortable in your own skin is important for anyone looking to figure out what they enjoy sexually. Dr. Nancy Sutton recommended exploring your own body, as well as trying new things with your partner, such as ice or toys. “The mind is the largest sex organ,” she explained. “So making inverted nipples sexy — like a clitoris that is hidden beneath the hood — is one way of bringing this into the sexual experience in a more playful way rather than trying to fix something that is thought to be broken. It’s just different — not broken.” Wise words to remember.

“Can I change my inverted nipples?”

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It is possible to change your inverted nipples — and it’s totally a personal choice — but there is no real health reason to do so, professionals told us. Physical appearance is the main reason that people have their inverted nipples changed, we were told. “There are aesthetic and functional reasons why woman want to free or liberate their nipple / seek correction of their inverted nipples,” Dr. Justin Yovino, a plastic surgeon from Beverly Hills, explained. “These include a general undesirable appearance, the possible associated decrease in the feeling of femininity, and just being self-conscious about it.”

The procedure to change inverted nipples is relatively simple. “Once the area is completely numb, the nipple is carefully released from the retractile forces while still remaining attached to your body,” Dr. Yovino continued. “Tissue may be added to assist in the new projection, and small stitches are placed to hold it in the new position until healed.  This is a low-risk procedure with essentially no down time and is almost scarless given the hidden nature of the incisions.”

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Inverted nipples might may be unfamiliar to you, given how most of the boobs we see in pop culture, porn and even medical texts are perky, cookie-cutter ones with nipples protruding outwards. We should all remember, though, that breasts are different. Our boobs vary greatly based on our age, our health, childbearing, breastfeeding, and of course, what nature gave us when we were born. Some breasts are are smaller, some are bigger, some are longer, some are flatter flatter, some have big areolas, some have small areolas — everything in between. It’s all just the glory of boobs!

So if you have inverted nipples, know that you’re not alone — and according to the doctors with whom we spoke, your body is totally normal.

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