Nipple Problems

Archive Page
This is archive material from the MHF's website which is now part of this site in the section Male Health. This page remains on the site as site traffic suggests visitors find this page useful but it may not be up to date. It was last updated in 2003 and so does not conform to the NHS England Information Standard of which the MHF is a member. Up-to-date information on this topic can be found here: Breast FAQs.


Abnormally large nipples with secretion

Q . I know you probably get fed up of hearing the same questions over and over again but this is really worrying me. I am 15 and over the last few years I have had abnormally large nipples. The left is larger than the right and both sometimes secrete small ammounts of liquid. People at school call me all sorts of things and it is really getting to me. I don't know what to do.

A. Look, the whole reason for this site is for men who are worried to be able to write in and get some advice. It makes no difference whether the same thing is asked about or not. You are the important part of the equation not me. This is my job as a doctor. Never worry again about getting in touch.

Nipple size varies enormously between both men and women. At your age there are all kinds of hormone changes taking place which determine your appearance and function of your tackle, including your breasts. Discharge from the nipple, usually a milky looking substance is common at this time as is a severe pain and tenderness. Even so, because I cannot examine you over the net you should go and see your GP to check and give yourself piece of mind. As for the other guys, believe me, they will all have something they are unsure about whether it is plonker size or depth of voice. You are you and you have a long life of fun ahead of you as a man. Get your ass out there and lap it up you lucky bugger.

Oversized nipples

Q . I am a normal, healthy 17 yr old boy, but for the last four or five years I have had 'oversized' nipples. I cannot remember exactly when this started or why, but they are very squigy and dome shaped and spring straight back if I hold them down. Surely this is not my normal size because they are way too big. The doctors keep saying they'll go down but it's been like this for 4 years and I am getting sick of the humiliation. What is wrong with me?

A. I am taking this very seriously. Things to do with the male breast, especially the nipples, can cause a disproportionate amount of misery in young men. And remember, you are a man not a '17 year old boy'. The good news is that puberty starts and lasts for very different times in boys about to become men. Some guys will find it happening at 9 years, others at 18 years. There is no 'normal age'.

During this time the breasts change dramatically in men. The size of the nipple in particular changes as the hormones sort themselves out. You may also feel a hard disc beneath the nipple which can be intensely tender, much to the pleasure of sadistic swine who like to twist it for you but only after theirs have settled down. Yes, the nipples will almost definitely settle down over the next few years. If they don't - and it will be a very, very rare case - you could have cosmetic surgery later on. Personally I would wait and simply enjoy being a 17 year old man. There are other parts of your body which are quite nice to have big and protruding.

Flat nipples

Q . I'm a male age 40. Happily married with 2 kids. Physically and mentally I am healthy except that I have 'flat nipples'. My nipples will only erect temporarily during climax or if I'm feeling cold. Can I have permanent erect nipples like the ordinary guys?

A. Some good news: Ordinary guys also have flat nipples. There is a spectrum of nipple prominence from inverted to permanently everted. Women also show the same spectrum. This is not always a manifestation of anything nasty like breast cancer although you should be breast aware as men can develop the tumour. If you have had the inverted nipples for a very long time it is not serious. Some self care specialists recommend nipple piercing and attaching small weights. Alternatively plastic surgeons can inject collagen behind the nipple to lift it forwards. Your GP can refer you or you can seek private care. The men's magazines often carry advertisements for cosmetic surgeons.

Fat beneath nipples

Q . I am a healthy 25 year old male and I go to the gym 3 to 4 times a week, for both cardiovascular and weights. I have been doing this for about a year. I make a conscious effort to have a healthy diet. My chest is fairly developed, however I have had problems in defining my lower chest. My main reason is that I have what appears like residual fat imediately below both of my nipples. This makes my chest look undefined. Is there anything that I can do - either excercise or diet - which would aid me to remove this problem?

A. There is no evidence to support fat reduction in specific areas by using targetted exercises, the great myth of 'sport reduction'. However, your particular problem was addressed many years ago by the late great Steve Reeves, who advocated only incline chest exercises for the problem of saggy, fatty lower pectorals. Incline bench pressing on a 33 degree bench, incline flying, incline dumbell pressing, all effectively develop the upper, clavicular area of the pecs. This can lift the whole pec area and give a more defined look to the lower pec. 

The basic rule is to avoid heavy flat benching if you are prone to heavy lower pec development. And as you get older this problem will become more pronounced, so take action now.

Nipple pain

Q . August 28 I discovered soreness on the right chest nipple. I put on cream but it was still sore. I went to my GP who examined me for lumps but found none, and said to go back if it did not get better. The chest nipple flared up a few times but I would have to touch it to find out how sore it was. I went back to GP and now have to see a doctor at the hospital. I have no pain even though I use two walking sticks. On the good days I can press the nipple right in the muscle then I will feel the pain/burning type. The only time of late there has been an unpain feeling when I stretch the right arm to get an item off a shelf. Hope you have an idea of what it can be.

P.S. I am a chronic arthritic.

A. Without a physical examination it is impossible to be certain what is going on, although you give a very good description of your symptoms. Nipple pain in adolescents is common and normal. Pain in the nipple in an older man deserves investigation. 

A great deal depends on whether the pain is in the nipple itself, the tissue beneath or the ribs. If you suffer from arthritis, the ribs can be painful where they join the breast bone. Pressing on the rib through the nipple will trigger this pain.

If it is in the tissue under the nipple you may have a chronic infection which can result in a cyst. These are often tender and painful. Pain at the nipple itself may be from infection or constant rubbing against clothes. Any discharge from the nipple should be taken seriously as infections, and sometimes growths within the breast tissue, can show themselves this way.

Muscular pain within the muscles below the breast and overlying the ribs can be painful from inflammation especially if you suffer from arthritis.

I'm sorry I can't be more precise. You should pursue this with your doctor to eliminate any serious causes of the pain and to give you piece of mind.

Pain under nipple

Q . I get a pain under my right nipple and it looks different to the right one anyway, it's been like this for almost 2 years I did talk to my doctor about this a year ago and he was not that intrested, but the pain is there all time, every time i touch it, or bang it!No book or web site has anything on it at all, am I the only person with this problem?

A. Good grief you are very far from being the only man to suffer from this but the seriousness of it depends a great deal on your age about which you give no clue.

If you are between 11 and 21 'ish' it is one of the most common manifestations of hormone changes to afflict us men. A dense hard plaque of tissue builds up just beneath the nipple which is incredibly tender and painful to touch. The more sadistic guys in ,my school very soon found out who was going through this 'bad patch' which can last fro a year or more by inflicting 'nipple pain'. Not a dry eye in the house. It will disappear on its own without any treatment. If it gets unbearable see your GP.

If you are older it may be a chronic infection which can happen in men as well as women. This is particularly the case if there is any discharge from the nipple. See your GP. Much rarer is male breast cancer. Painless lumps are more the norm than tender nipples and you seem to have had this for a long time so it is unlikely. If you are not sure, see your doctor.


Page created on May 14th, 2003

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