Why Do We Have Nipples
We all know what nipples do for us, even if we may not be able to put our finger on why they exist. In humans, two nates are usually present at birth. They serve as food storage depots for milk while it is produced and distributed from the mammary glands (the name comes from the Latin word “mamma,” meaning breast). These fleshy protrusions grow into the shape of a teardrop with their pointed ends facing outwards, and can range between 1 inch (2.54 cm) and 3 inches (7.62 cm) long. The size of the nipple varies according to age, sex and hormonal changes. After puberty begins, women’s nipples enlarge along with breasts, which continue growing throughout adulthood. Men’s nipples remain relatively constant until testosterone takes over after puberty.
Nipples play an important role in the reproductive process. During pregnancy, the amount of blood supply increases dramatically, allowing more oxygenated blood to reach the baby. Additionally, as the mother feeds her child, she expels colostrum through her nipples. This colostrum contains antibodies that protect against disease. Finally, suckling stimulates the production of oxytocin, which helps regulate childbirth and breastfeeding. Oxytocin also has a calming effect on adults.
While there are many theories about how nipples came to be, most scientists agree that they were likely developed for survival purposes. For example, during times when mothers had to leave their babies behind to go off and hunt or gather food, a pair of small nubs would help keep the infant warm. Also, since nipples provide a safe place for infants to grasp onto, they might’ve been useful for nursing older children. Today, this theory still holds true because researchers now believe that a lack of contact with skin can cause serious health problems, including frostbite and hypothermia. And although nipples don’t appear to contain nerve endings, they’re sensitive enough to feel pain.
In some cultures, the female nipple is considered sexually provocative and erotic. But where does this come from? Why do we find them sexy? It turns out that our attraction to human nipples probably dates back hundreds of thousands of years. Indeed, ancient Greek statues often portrayed nude goddesses with prominent nipples. In fact, one myth claims that Zeus was born with erect nipples, but Apollo transformed them into arrows to fight his enemies. Similarly, in Norse mythology, Odin created Freyja, a beautiful woman with large breasts. She later married Loki, god of mischief, and gave birth to Skaði, the world-eater. Other myths claim that Hera, the wife of Zeus, was responsible for creating the tethered Pleione.
But despite these examples, it wasn’t until recently that historians began questioning whether nipples originated as part of the natural body plan. One leading hypothesis proposes that nipples evolved from modified sweat glands, which secrete moisture rather than salt water like other types of sweat glands.
Another popular theory suggests that nipples first appeared in apes. Scientists point to similarities between ape nipples and those found in humans. For instance, both are covered with hair and contain ducts. However, while human nipples produce milk, those of apes merely store fat. And whereas human nipples have specialized functions, such as providing protection from cold temperatures or aiding with feeding, those of chimpanzees tend to perform multiple tasks.
A third explanation focuses on the unique physical characteristics of human nipples. Although chimpanzee mamas’ nipples are larger than theirs, adult males’ nipples have no fur covering. As for the size of the nipples themselves, male nipples are smaller and less prominent than female ones. Historians say that these differences could reflect the roles that female nipples played in early hominid evolution. Before modern technology made hunting easier, women’s nipples helped them collect nutrition and prepare meals for their families. Later, once they started farming, women needed to spend more time away from home to work. Thus, nipples became increasingly necessary for survival.
Today, many people enjoy using their nipples for various forms of self-expression. Nipple piercing involves inserting a needle under the surface of the skin and attaching jewelry to create a hole. Some people use this technique to enhance sensitivity during masturbation. Breastfeeding allows mothers to feed their babies directly without bottles or tubes. A few women prefer to nurse their newborns at night so that they can sleep undisturbed. Others choose to wear bras that support their breasts, giving them fuller figures. And some simply want to show off their bodies. Many nudists display their bare chests for others to see — a practice known as exhibitionism.
So what happens when you remove your clothes? Find out on the next page.
The average person spends about 20 minutes per day naked, according to surveys conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics. While nudity seems to appeal mostly to older folks, younger generations are starting to embrace it as well. Americans aged 12 to 17 increased their exposure to nudity in public settings by 32 percent between 2002 and 2005, while those aged 18 to 29 saw a 26 percent increase.
Although many people consider nudity to be healthy, experts advise against letting anyone witness full frontal nudity. Since the eyes cannot be shielded, nudity can lead to voyeuristic behavior and possible exploitation. At best, nudity can cause embarrassment and awkwardness; at worst, it can incite criminal activity. Even though most states recognize the right to privacy, laws vary among communities regarding what is deemed indecent exposure or pornography.
As for the question of whether nudity leads to better mental health, studies indicate otherwise. Research shows that patients who participated in group therapy sessions experienced greater improvement in depression levels than did those who didn’t participate. Patients also reported feeling comfortable in intimate relationships and feeling good about themselves. Moreover, studies suggest that nudity promotes relaxation and lowers stress levels.
For decades, doctors have recommended wearing loose clothing to prevent modesty issues. But today, some physicians recommend going au naturel altogether. Dr. Robert Klassen says that he encourages patients to avoid wearing tight pants, revealing tops or sleeveless shirts. He says that clothing that constricts the arms and torso only serves to inhibit circulation. Instead, he recommends dressing comfortably yet modestly.
If you’d rather stay clothed, try experimenting with new ways to cover up your assets. Try wrapping yourself in a sarong or shawl, or draping a blanket around your waist. If you’re feeling extra frisky, try pulling your shirt down over your head and fastening it behind your neck. You’ll look cute, and nobody will get any ideas!
Some people argue that society should accept nudity freely because it is part of being human. But for others, stripping down to basic needs is liberating. Nudists contend that clothing causes discomfort and inhibits movement. By taking off layers of clothing, it becomes easier to move freely and safely.
Next, learn how you can give back to your community by donating your used lingerie.
Many people donate used items to charities — everything from books to cars. Yet, hardly anything gets donated as much as women’s underwear. Lingerie makes up nearly half of donations collected by Goodwill Industries International. In 2006, the company received more than 2 million pounds worth $1.3 million in donations.
Most organizations receive donated panties in white, black and red, though purple and blue lingerie occasionally surfaces. Donors typically send their unwanted garments to thrift stores, consignment shops and donation centers. Larger companies can recycle their old stockings, pajamas and bra bands into new ones.
To make sure that your lingerie doesn’t become another piece of trash, take care of it properly. When washing, soak the pieces for several hours to remove perspiration, bacteria and dirt. Then wash them separately from other laundry. Dry the pieces on low heat, and hang them inside the dryer on high heat instead of fluffing them. Avoid folding items, as folding stresses fabric fibers. Lastly, don’t iron lingerie, which can damage elastic material.
Now that you understand the purpose of nipples, let’s examine the benefits of breastfeeding.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is a way of nourishing a young child through direct ingestion. Once the infant latches on, the baby receives nutrients and immunities via colostrum and milk. These substances include vitamins and minerals, fatty acids, sugars, amino acids and enzymes. Nursing also provides indirect nourishment, since hormones released during nursing stimulate the appetite of the baby. Furthermore, breastfeeding releases prolactin, which induces the release of endorphins. Endorphins calm the baby and relieve tension in the caregiver.
Studies show that breastfeeding improves the development of the immune system. Babies fed exclusively with breastmilk score higher on tests measuring cognitive ability and verbal skills than kids who aren’t nursed regularly. Researchers also link breastfeeding with lower rates of asthma, eczema, allergies, diabetes and heart diseases. Studies have shown similar results for premature and sick infants. Infants who are bottle-fed formula have significantly poorer growth and development.
However, breastfeeding isn’t always easy. The act requires patience and persistence on behalf of both parents. Mothers must pump milk for 10 to 15 minutes every three hours.
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