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Why Do My Nipples Feel Tender

by Lyndon Langley
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Why Do My Nipples Feel Tender

Why Do My Nipples Feel Tender

Your breasts have been sending messages to other parts of your body for years. They provide nourishment, protect babies when they’re born, help regulate fertility, even produce milk that helps feed newborns. But what happens when those messages aren’t understood? That’s where breast sensitivity comes in.
Breast tenderness is a common problem among women. It could mean anything from a minor irritation to a sharp ache. The good news is that it doesn’t always need medical attention. In fact, many women know exactly how sensitive their boobs are thanks to some simple techniques. And while there are no hard-and-fast rules about breast tenderness — which varies greatly from person to person — we do know one thing for sure: There are lots of ways to treat it.
The following pages will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about nipple sensitivity. We’ll cover everything from causes to home remedies so you can figure out what works best for you. To get started, let’s talk about what makes them so sensitive in the first place.
Sensitivity Basics
A woman’s breasts are made up of two types of tissue: fibrous connective tissue that surrounds each gland (the mammary glands), and fatty lobules that contain fluid and secrete milk through ducts into the surrounding connective tissues. Mammary glands grow larger during puberty and pregnancy. When a woman becomes sexually aroused, she releases hormones that cause the lobules within her breasts to fill with milk. This process is called lactation.
As mentioned earlier, when a woman isn’t nursing, her breasts are filled with a combination of fat and water. These fluids give breasts their round shape and elasticity. During sexual activity, however, the breasts become engorged with blood and swell up like balloons. As these swollen lobes rub against clothes, bras, underwires and other objects, they start to hurt.
If you’ve never experienced breast tenderness yourself, you probably think that means everyone feels it. Not necessarily. While most women do experience occasional discomfort around their nipples, not every woman experiences breast tenderness at the exact same time every day. A number of factors influence whether or not you’ll notice any changes in your own breasts’ sensitivity. The size of your breasts, age, weight, hormonal balance and level of physical activity can all affect how sensitive your nipples are.
So let’s say you want to know more than just whether or not you’re feeling tender today. What does breast tenderness actually feel like? Read on!
Nipple Sensitivity FAQ
Tender Breasts
When people refer to “tender” breasts, what they really mean is that the breasts feel painful when touched. Other symptoms include redness and inflammation. Sometimes, the term refers specifically to the sensation felt during breastfeeding. People who haven’t nursed often assume that this is the only way that breasts can become sensitive. However, others claim that their breasts became sensitive after receiving silicone implants, as well. One way to determine whether your breasts were affected is to see your doctor. He or she can perform tests to rule out infections and other problems.
Causes of Tender Breasts
You may wonder why breast tenderness occurs at all. Why don’t our breasts simply stay the same size year round? Well, they do change over time. For example, once a woman reaches menopause, estrogen levels decrease and vaginal secretions dry and thin out. After this point, the amount of fat within the breast lobule decreases, causing the tissue to shrink slightly. Since the fat acts as cushion between the skin and muscles underneath, less of it leaves the breast feeling tighter and more uncomfortable. Also, because the breasts lose their ability to produce milk, they begin to sag a little bit. At the same time, breasts tend to increase in diameter due to the growth hormone prolactin. Prolactin production increases during times of stress, such as childbirth, menstruation and sexual arousal. So, although the breasts themselves might seem unchanged, the overall effect can make them appear fuller and more noticeable.
In addition, breast tenderness can occur with certain health conditions. Cysts, tumors, mastitis and cancerous masses can cause swelling, pain and tenderness. Infection can also result in tenderness. Severe cases can require medical treatment. Other illnesses or diseases affecting the breasts can cause tenderness, too, including autoimmune disorders, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, hypothyroidism, leukemia, lupus, multiple sclerosis, pernicious anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis, scurvy, tuberculosis, viral infection and vitamin deficiency.
Home Remedies for Tender Breasts
If you’re experiencing breast tenderness, try using a warm compress instead of a hot pad. Using heat can irritate the skin. Instead, put a damp cloth over the area until you achieve desired temperature. You can also use ice packs or bags of frozen peas wrapped in a towel. Another option is to soak in a tub of very warm water.
Other things you can do at home to relieve the pain of tender breasts include drinking plenty of water, taking aspirin to reduce fever, applying cornstarch paste or petroleum jelly, and changing your bra style. Avoid wearing tight clothing, especially underwear, as this can encourage additional circulation to the breasts.
Finally, keep reading to learn more tips on how to deal with breast tenderness and discover helpful information on breast care.
It’s not uncommon for new mothers to complain of breast tenderness. Many believe the soreness results from engorgement. Engorgement is the accumulation of milk in the breasts, which creates increased pressure and leads to pain and discomfort. When engorgement occurs, the breasts become full, firm and possibly bigger. Pain, tenderness and warmth are signs of engorgement.
Breastfeeding can lead to engorgement. New mothers often mistakenly believe they are engorged when their breasts are merely full, but they are actually leaking milk. The trick here is to empty the breasts completely when the baby nurses. Then, the mother needs to nurse again in order to rehydrate herself.
Tips for Treating Tender Breasts
To prevent breast tenderness, avoid direct contact with your nipples. Keep your hands away from your chest while you sleep. Wearing long sleeves and undershirts can also help. If you wear a bra, choose one without underwire. Underwire can pinch the nipples and restrict airflow. Use cotton panties instead of nylon ones; they won’t rub against your nipples and cause irritation. Finally, avoid lying on your stomach. Your breasts are higher up on the torso than your hips, so gravity pulls downward rather than upward.
If you suffer from breast tenderness, be aware that it can last anywhere from several days to several weeks. Try not to worry. Remember, breast tenderness is temporary, and it usually goes away on its own. Talk to your physician if the condition persists longer than a few days.
Now that you know how to handle mild breast tenderness, read on to learn about more serious issues related to breast health.
Breast tenderness can make you worry that something must be wrong with your health. However, breast tenderness is a fairly common complaint. Doctors recommend waiting at least 48 hours before making a trip to the emergency room unless the condition worsens significantly. Make sure to write down the date and duration of the pain when calling your doctor. Doing so can help him or her figure out what’s going on with your breasts.

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