Why does nipple pain occur?

Physiological causes of pain

Often nipple pain occurs unexpectedly and also disappears suddenly. It happens:

  1. Before the upcoming menstruation is one of the common reasons. In women, 3-5 days before this, the amount of hormones in the blood increases. The mammary glands swell and pinch the nerve endings, the nipples become more sensitive and are painful to touch.
  2. During pregnancy, from the very first days, a woman’s body begins to prepare for motherhood and for feeding (lactation). There is an increase in hormonal levels and the milk ducts increase, but the nerve tissue grows less quickly, so they are tense. And this, in turn, leads to painful feelings in the nipples of pregnant women.
  3. When feeding, due to the increase in volume of the mammary glands, pain symptoms appear in the nipples.

There are cases when the baby takes the breast incorrectly or the mother herself, by her position, created an uncomfortable position for the baby and thus he was unable to take it correctly. And also the mother tears the baby from the breast with a sharp movement. This can cause your nipples to crack, even before bleeding appears. The pain is severe and burning. It is recommended to use a cream or ointment to heal wounds.

Also, at the time of feeding, the skin on the nipples is very thin and dry, and only 4-6 days after the birth of the child, it is naturally covered with lubricant, so at first, feeding causes discomfort. Also, when the nipples have an irregular shape, this also causes painful feelings during feeding.

It is especially worth noting that excess milk should be expressed, otherwise the ducts become blocked, which is accompanied by redness and pain.

Why do my nipples hurt?

Relief from breast pain depends on the cause. So, during cyclical periods of pain, you should try to touch this area as little as possible, and also try to avoid any pressure on the chest.

Wear underwear of the appropriate size and without seams in the nipple area. Also, jewelry should be selected according to a length that is much higher than the chest to eliminate possible pain.

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If pain occurs during lactation, you should be attentive to personal hygiene and properly attach the baby to the breast to avoid microcracks in the nipples.

If the pain in this area becomes increasingly painful and is also accompanied by external changes, which are expressed in the form of discharge, increased body temperature, changes in the shape and color of the nipple, and other factors, then it is necessary to consult a mammologist.

Detection of diseases at the initial stage of development is the key to a complete recovery in the end, so a woman should be attentive to her health and be extremely attentive to pain that occurs in the nipple area.

Question: What to do if your nipples hurt should be considered based on gender. For men, if there are no signs of chafing from clothing, you should immediately visit a doctor. But women should carefully analyze their condition:

  • Connection with menstruation. If your nipples are constantly sore before menstruation, this indicates PMS. But you should consult a gynecologist to exclude the possible development of pathology.
  • Is there any delay? If menstruation does not occur on time, pregnancy may be the cause.
  • How long ago did you have sex? If the day before the partner was unshaven or the nipples were actively stimulated, then pain may occur. The assumption will be confirmed by the fact that the nipples hurt more when you press them with your fingertips.
  • Low temperatures. If the breast is cold, then pain discomfort appears in the nipple area. After the woman warms up, the discomfort disappears.

While pain in the nipples in a woman may be a feature of physiology, the appearance of this symptom in men is always a sign of a pathological process. If your nipples become sore suddenly and the resulting condition causes discomfort, you should consult a doctor to rule out a serious pathology.

If your nipples hurt, there can be various reasons. Typically this phenomenon occurs against the background of:

  • pregnancy;
  • lactation;
  • PMS;
  • taking medications (contraceptives, hormonal drugs);
  • various diseases (cyst, mastopathy).

In this case, pain can be felt both in the entire gland and locally, only in the nipples. In rare cases, the pain radiates to the back or shoulder, its intensity varies from slight to very strong.

If your nipples are red and sore, the cause may be wearing poor-quality and uncomfortable underwear or tight clothing.

So, we figured out why nipples hurt when touched. Now we should consider how a woman can alleviate her condition.

  1. Visit to the doctor. If your nipples hurt quite badly, you should visit a mammologist. The doctor will help identify the cause and prescribe adequate treatment. Without this stage, any actions will be ineffective. Treating symptoms gives short-term results, and identifying the root cause in most cases guarantees that the problem will be eliminated.
  2. Minimum touches. There is no need to provoke pain again. Do not touch your breasts unless necessary; buy high-quality underwear without seams.
  3. Moisturizing and softening. If pain is caused by dry skin, wash your nipples often with water without soap and lubricate them with sea buckthorn oil. It is advisable for nursing mothers, after putting the baby to the breast, not to wipe the nipples, but to lubricate them with a small amount of milk and leave them to dry.

During pregnancy and lactation, the use of any medications, even the most harmless ones, should be agreed with a doctor.

Nipples can hurt not only in women, but also in men. Most often this is a consequence of hormonal disorders, so the first thing you should do is visit a doctor and get tested for hormones.

Gynecomastia is a disease that leads to breast enlargement in men due to hypertrophy of adipose tissue and glands. Unilateral and bilateral gynecomastia may be observed. In this case, pain is usually felt in the nipple area. Depending on the stage of the disease, surgery may be required to remove excess fat tissue.

If a girl or woman’s nipples hurt, this may be normal or a deviation. It all depends on the intensity of the pain and its cyclicity. Only after finding out the cause of the pain can you assess the situation and take some measures to eliminate the unpleasant symptom. Pain in the nipples in a man should alert you. You should immediately visit an endocrinologist to find out the cause of the discomfort.

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The most common causes of discomfort in the nipple area:

  1. Periodic premenstrual syndrome. Better known as PMS. The phenomenon of sore nipples before menstruation is familiar to the vast majority of the female population. Usually, discomfort appears a few days before the onset of menstruation. The breast swells, becomes more sensitive, the nipple becomes rough and swollen. Each of us, suffering from excruciating pain, asked the question: why do nipples hurt before menstruation? This happens due to the fact that in the last days before their onset, the production of hormones, namely progesterone and prolactin, increases significantly. With the onset of menstruation, the hormonal surge returns to normal, and, as a rule, pain in the nipples becomes less sensitive and soon disappears altogether. In this situation, you will simply have to come to terms with your female fate. The female body is unpredictable and special, and some have nipple pain during ovulation, while others experience pain after ovulation.
  2. Disturbed hormonal levels. Improper functioning of the thyroid gland, adrenal dysfunction, or problems with the nervous system can lead to a failure in the production of hormones. Any hormonal fluctuations for a woman can lead to cycle disorders, as well as painful sensations, including nipples. If your nipples hurt after your period, this may be a symptom of hormonal imbalance, observe your feelings and, if necessary, consult a doctor.
  3. Incorrectly selected hormonal contraceptives. This type of contraception should be selected individually and after passing the appropriate tests in order to prevent hormonal imbalance in the body. But if, while taking hormonal contraceptives, you still experience painful breasts or swollen and sore nipples, and a number of other symptoms that are unusual for you, you should consult a gynecologist. These medications may not be right for you or your dosage may need to be changed.
  4. The onset of pregnancy. When answering the question of whether nipples hurt during pregnancy, it is impossible to give a definitive answer, because every woman is individual and unique. But we can say with certainty that when pregnancy occurs, the woman’s body gradually prepares for future breastfeeding of the baby. Because of this preparation and restructuring, nipples hurt during pregnancy. If you are not familiar with such sensations before, do not rule out this option.
  5. Mental disorders, stress, depression, emotional turmoil. Psychological comfort is very important for a woman. If you've been worried a lot lately, have been nervous or been under stress, this can take a toll on your body and cause nipple pain.
  6. Uncomfortable bra. This reason cannot be ignored. Incorrectly selected underwear often causes unreasonable chest pain. You should approach this issue more carefully and exclude tight and narrow bras. Are your nipples itchy and sore? This is possible if you have an allergic reaction to the fabric of your underwear or irritation and damage to the nipple.
  7. Pain during breastfeeding. This reason is inevitable for almost every new mother. Why do nipples hurt when breastfeeding? I would like to dwell on this issue in more detail.

Hello! Women who are sensitive to changes occurring in the body notice that on certain days their breasts swell and their nipples become sensitive. Why do nipples hurt in women and girls? And is it only women who know this feeling?

Girls and women know that a few days before the onset of menstrual bleeding, hormonal changes occur in the body, triggering the beginning of a new cycle.

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Among the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, along with irritability, tearfulness, and fatigue, there are also physiological manifestations. One of the most striking symptoms is swollen breasts and sensitive nipples.

On the eve of menstruation, the concentration of female sex hormones – prolactin and progesterone – increases significantly in the blood.

A “cocktail” of hormones and biologically active substances leads to water retention in the body. The mammary glands are no exception; it is excess fluid that causes slight swelling of the breasts.

The expansion of the ducts of the mammary glands causes compression of the nerve endings, hence unpleasant sensations, increased sensitivity, and pain.

Before your period, touching your breasts causes irritation, and your usual underwear becomes uncomfortable. Pain before menstruation is considered normal; after menstruation, everything goes away until the start of the next cycle.

Other causes of pain

In addition to the reasons listed above, there are a number of others:

  1. A long absence of sex is a common cause of pain in the breasts and nipples. With a long absence of sex, we can say that the body seems to fall asleep and hormones weaken. And when sex occurs in such an organism, it is rebuilt. There is a more active production of hormones and this makes the nipples hurt.
  2. If you are bruised, that means there is physical damage to the chest. It is worth noting that this can be dangerous, so it is better to visit a specialist.
  3. If you wash your nipples with soap, it dries out the delicate skin of the nipples; washing with water is enough.
  4. Allergy - possibly to fabric or household chemicals. When wearing synthetic underwear, some women experience allergies, which results in pain. There is so-called contact dermatitis if you use cosmetics (gels, creams) for breast care that do not suit you.
  5. Bra - if it is not chosen correctly and its shape does not suit you.

Reason #3: allergies or atopic dermatitis

Pain and irritation of the nipples, accompanied by peeling and blistering of the skin, may be a sign of an allergic reaction or atopic dermatitis (eczema).

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If allergies occur, exclude suspicious fabrics, cosmetics and perfumes, use antiallergic ointment (fenistil) and antihistamines in tablets (cetirizine, loratadine). If the rash, pain and itching do not go away, consult a specialist.

Allergic rashes can provoke pain in the nipple area.

How to get rid of or reduce pain

As you can see, not every pain should cause serious concern; if it is before the menstrual cycle, during pregnancy, feeding, etc., then the pain will go away on its own. To reduce discomfort at these moments, you need to:

  • maintain personal hygiene, just do not use a lot of soap and gel when washing your breasts;
  • wear a bra of the correct shape and size, preferably made from natural materials and without rough seams, so as not to injure the nipples;
  • reduce unnecessary stimulation of the chest at these moments;
  • take proper care of your breasts: after feeding your baby, wash the mammary glands with warm water; if there are cracks or wounds, lubricate them immediately with a special ointment;
  • familiarize yourself with the information on how to properly put your baby to the breast, this will ease the pain at the first stage of feeding, and then it will go away altogether.

For serious reasons, the pain is sharp, more constant and severe, even in the shoulder blade and shoulder. In these cases, you should consult a doctor and get diagnosed. These are events such as:

  • communication with the patient;
  • examination of the mammary glands by palpation;
  • undergo a mammogram;
  • Ultrasound of the sore breast;
  • donate blood to determine hormonal levels.

Common (everyday) causes of nipple pain in women

Why did my nipples start to hurt so much?

Uncomfortable bra

Often women buy underwear that they really like. And, naturally, they forget that there are some inconveniences. Most likely, you too “bought” the beauty. Narrow bra. Maybe it was immediately unnoticeable. Until it got to the point of pain. The pain indicated that the bra size you needed on your chest was inaccurate.

Soap "wrong"

We bought new soap. It captivated you with its aroma. But it turned out to be very unacceptable for your papillae. Your nipples itch and hurt when you touch them. I'll have to buy another one! Don’t be upset: there are a lot of untried aromas!

Dryness in the nipple area

Hygiene is to blame. More precisely…. Some lack of it. You need to spend more time in the shower or in the bath. And no one forbids you to do this!

Sex interrupted

Sometimes this can also be the cause of nipple pain after sex. True, not all women believe in this or want to believe. The good news is that the pain for this reason will not last long.

Towel hardness

Try drying yourself with a different towel. It may also be that the towel you are so accustomed to does not suit you at all, it turns out.

Chlorinated water

At first everything was fine, but the nipples became capricious and began to resist, giving a signal for you to change the water. And they decided to get sick until you and the water come up with something.


It was itchy... Happens! This “scratching” was the reason that the nipple area became very sore. Why do my nipples hurt when I touch them? – Because you “overdid it” a little, you will have to suffer a little.


Maybe you hit yourself, but don’t remember? You can also hit yourself unnoticed. Hit and not notice. After some time, the blow will remind you of itself with painful sensations. You need to be more careful.

Incompetence in breastfeeding

Have you learned how to take your breasts from your baby on time? Do not be offended by your baby if he is to blame for your painful and unpleasant feelings.

“Tightness” of the chest or breasts

Most often it happens in transport. But no one notices the pain right away. The pain begins to “increase” either the next day or the next day.

Breast pumps that don't adjust well

Naturally, they will get sick! Imagine that you have your finger pressed against a door. It’s the same here. More painful, of course, because the skin on the nipples is more tender than the skin on the fingers.

Underwear that hasn't been washed in a while

The body loves cleanliness. This must always be remembered. Anyone who remembers can easily avoid many troubles! It’s better to wash your bra one more time than not wash it!

Hardening of the skin on and around the nipples

We’ve already talked about baby cream, but it’s the one that will soften hard skin and help you significantly! Buy several tubes of cream at once, because the second one will not be superfluous. Such things are needed!

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