If you were to search “long nipples” on Google, you’d find a lot of inappropriate results. That tells us two things: There are a lot of long nipples out there, and people tend to think they are pretty sexy.
That said, if your nipples seem longer than those of others, you may be wondering why. But the reality is, there is no known clinical significance to elongated nipples and nipple size.
Nipples will grow with estrogen, and particularly during puberty. Says Dr. Joseph B. Davis, DO, FACOG, “As a girl progresses through puberty, the shape and size of the nipple changes. Most women don’t see a lot of nipples and may not have a good comparison, but what they see may be normal for their body.”
From there, a lot can happen. But if you’re noticing that your nipples are a little long, here’s why.
1. It’s completely normal
“The normal nipple extends from the central area of the areola, or circular tissue surrounding the nipple. The colour of the nipple and areola is due to blood vessels coursing near the skin. Melanin is deposited in skin cells as part of the ageing process, thereby darkening the nipple-areolar complex,” tells Dr. Serena McKenzie, ND, IF, NCMP.
While there is significant variation in colour, shape, size, and projection of the nipple-areola anatomy, a study of characteristics in 300 women reported an average nipple height of 0.9 cm.
“Differences in nipple length can be affected by age, race, weight, and hormonal changes. Inverted nipples can be genetic and are present in approximately 3 percent of women ages 19 to 26,” Dr. McKenzie says.
For many women, inverted or prolonged nipples can be a source of aesthetic and functional concern, leading to self-consciousness and psychological distress.
Surgical correction is an option only for nipple anatomy that is problematic, but most nipple size and shape variations are completely normal and represent a wide variety of female beauty. Keep in mind that any lumps, rashes or discharge from the nipple can be a sign of something more serious and should always be checked out by a healthcare provider.
Pregnancy is a time when nipples elongate in preparation for breastfeeding. And if you think you may be pregnant, long nipples may be just one of the symptoms.
“They can return to their pre-pregnancy appearance after stopping breastfeeding, but may not. Your areola may darken as well,” advises Dr. Davis. While breastfeeding the baby will stretch the nipple, this mechanical stretching goes back quickly.
4. A mass
If one nipple is much larger than the other, this could be a sign of an underlying mass.
Warns Dr. Davis, “Masses under the nipple could be cancer, but more often are due to obstructed milk ducts. For these, the areola is often enlarged too, not just the nipple.”
Well, this is a good symptom to have. Because when your nipples are aroused or erect, they appear longer. We’ll take that option above the others, thanks.