Causes of Inverted Nipples


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Inverted nipples are actually fairly common although many women feel alone because the subject is often classed as “taboo” and no one really discusses it in public or admits to also having inverted nipples. Also, inverted nipples do not always come in pairs as many women only have one. It may be shy or truly inverted and is defined by a three-level grading system; the physical causes of each type are rather different. Primarily, we shall concentrate on the more general causes of inverted nipples.

More generalised causes behind inverted nipples

  • Congenital - you may have simply been born with inverted nipples.
  • Breastfeeding – this can damage milk ducts and make them more fibrous and retract, pulling the nipple inwards.
  • Surgery – scar tissue from previous surgeries may cause inversion.
  • Breast cancer.
  • Breast drooping – common as women age and the skin around the nipple becomes looser.
  • Infection – this could cause inflammation and result in fibrous scar tissue pulling the nipple in.
  • Pregnancy.

Causes of grade 1 inverted nipples

Grade 1 inverted nipples are those which are more commonly referred to as “shy” nipples. These can be coaxed out to protrude like a “normal” nipple by stimulation such as the cold or massage. This type of inversion is generally not associated with breastfeeding problems, as the milk ducts are not affected. It is not especially clear exactly what causes “shy” nipples are there is rarely fibrosis in the nipple and the milk duct is normal.

Causes of grade 2 inverted nipples

Grade 2 inverted nipples can be coaxed out to protrude, however this is not done as easily as with grade 1 inversions and often after the pressure is released, the nipple falls back to its inverted state. The main causes behind grade 2 inverted nipples are fibrosis and slight retraction of the milk ducts. This means that the nipple is constantly being pulled inwards by fibres into the breast causing it to be inverted.

Causes of grade 3 inverted nipples

Grade 3 inverted nipples are those usually classed as true inverted nipples as they are permanently inverted and are never seen to be protruding. These are the grade of inversion that often leads to surgery to correct the nipple, commonly undertaken by women hoping to breastfeed as this is seriously compromised with truly inverted nipples. The cause of grade 3 inverted nipples is a severe amount of fibrosis and short milk ducts. The shortness of the milk ducts means that the nipples are effectively dragged inwards and physically attached to tissue within the breast and so protraction is virtually impossible without surgery.


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