Truth is, that’s a trick question because there is no “normal” when it comes to healthy nipples.
Officially, the nipple of your breast is the nub that sticks out (or in the case of inverted nipples, sticks in). The nipple is in the center of the colored part of your breast, called the areola. Since it’s fairly common to refer to the entire areola/nipple combo as the nipple, we’ll do that, too.
So, back to what’s “normal.”
There are almost no two nipples that are alike (if you don’t believe me, check out this nipple gallery), so let’s get into what makes our nipples so different.
Nipples come in various shades of tan, pink and red, and usually deepen to brown once a woman becomes pregnant.
Nipples can range from the size of a quarter to – and I swear this is true because I saw it – the size of a saucer. That was a bit of a shock. The actual pokey part, the ‘official nipple’, can be as small as a lentil, or as big as (gulp) an olive. A large olive. Yup, I’ve seen that one, too.
Small Bumps on the Areola
The little white bumps that you see on and around the nipple are not pimples! They’re called Montgomery’s glands, and they produce lubrication. Please don’t squeeze them!
Hair Around the Nipples
You might see some fine or even wild hairs on your nips – I swear, they grow overnight. Feel free to trim or pluck, but please, no bleach, wax, or lasers, as the skin is just too sensitive.
Height of the Nipple
Some nipples are erect all the time, and some only tighten when they get cold, stimulated by clothing, or with arousal. For some women, nipples are a major erogenous zone, and others can take them or leave them.
Now, you do need to know that many breast cancers begin just beneath the nipple, so if you notice any changes from YOUR normal, please see your doctor as soon as possible. These changes may include:
- Any fluid at all coming from a non-lactating nipple
- Scaly or crusty skin not associated with breastfeeding
- A nipple that suddenly becomes inverted, or looks in any way different from the other breast
- Pain, or a change in a nipple’s normal sensitivity
You should check your headlights at least monthly as part of your regular full breast exam (you are doing that, aren’t you???). But why not check them daily as you bathe or shove those puppies in a bra? Knowing what’s normal for you will make it that much easier to detect if or when something becomes abnormal.