I've written about breasts on here before. Foods that are good for your breasts. How to pamper your breasts. Even tips for how to keep your breasts looking as youthful as possible. Yet while I was actually giving myself a breast exam not too long ago, I thought about how nipples don't seem to get as much attention (or media love) as breasts, as a whole, do. I mean, we've all got 'em and they certainly serve a purpose. So, let's explore a few facts about nipples that will hopefully help you to gain a greater appreciation for the ones that you have.
1. They’re One of the First Things to Develop in the Womb
It really is a trip, just how much a baby develops, very early on. For instance, by the time an expectant mom is in her ninth week of pregnancy, her child is already starting to form arms, toes and organs. Another thing that pops up are nipples and hair follicles, making nipples one of the first things that fully develops within a mother's womb.
2. They Are Sisters, Not Twins
If you were to draw a line straight down your body from head to toe and then looked very carefully at each of your body parts, you'd probably notice that while things like your eyebrows, eyes, ears, hands, feet, etc. look very similar, they aren't exactly identical. This point applies to your breasts and most certainly your nipples. One might be larger or higher than the other—and you know what? That's totally OK.
That said, what I will throw in is, something that I found to be a trip, is if you wanted to "measure" the space between both of your nipples, they're basically the same distance apart as your earlobes are. The more you know.
3. Some Folks Have More than Two of ‘Em
For the record, just like your vagina and labia aren't exactly the same thing (your vagina is the tube that connects to your uterus while your labia are your outer lips; both ultimately make up your vulva) neither are your nipples and your areolas. Your nipples are at the very center of your breasts that connect to your mammary glands. Your areolas are the darker part of your skin that surrounds your nipples. Well, depending on how your mammary glands are designed, it's actually very possible for you to have a couple of nipples on each areola. Health-wise, it's not that big of a deal, although it could make breastfeeding a little challenging for your baby.
4. They Resemble Belly Buttons. Kinda.
Now, here's what I mean when it comes to this particular point. Believe it or not, there are several different kinds of nipples. Like belly buttons, some women have nipples that protrude out (an outie) while others have inverted ones (an innie). Then there are women whose nipples remain pretty flat (even when they are aroused), women with multiple ones and even some who have nipples that look somewhat divided in the middle. Oh, and remember what I said about how no two nipples are exactly alike? This means that it's also probable that a woman could have one inverted nipple while the other protrudes. Nothing is wrong with any of these dynamics. It's just one more thing that speaks to how unique each of us are.
5. The Bumps Are There for a Reason. And a Purpose.
Ever wonder why your nipples have those little bumps all over them? It's not some random freak of nature.
The technical name for them are Montgomery tubercles and what they do is secrete oil to keep your nipples moisturized.
The secretions increase, significantly so, while you are pregnant. When it comes to these, some women only have a few of these bumps while other women have many.
6. Human Nipples Differ from Other Mammals
A fun fact that I found to be interesting is while our nipples (male and female) are able to remain prominent and become erect for as long as we're alive, other mammals only appear to have nipples during pregnancy and lactation. It could be nature's way of cosigning on the fact that humans become stimulated and have sex for more reasons than just being "in heat" and procreating, since nipples are an erogenous zone 'n all.
7. There’s a Scientific Reason for Having “Headlights”
Most of us know that when we get cold or aroused, our nipples typically get hard (become erect). The main reason why is because nipples have a collection of nerve cells that basically control the erectile muscle that's inside of your breast tissue. And the more sensitive those nerves are, the more likely your nipples (some call them "headlights") are going to show. While you need to give hard nipples time to warm up or to come down from being aroused in order for them to blend back in with the rest of your breasts, if you want to prevent hard nipples from being seen in public, a padded bra should do the trick (for the most part, anyway).
8. Discharge Is Pretty Normal. However…
Believe it or not, having a bit of nipple discharge can be pretty normal/common prior to menopause. That's because, contrary to popular belief, discharge doesn't only happen when you're pregnant. Birth control pills, nipple stimulation, antidepressants (because they can trigger the production of prolactin which is a milk-producing hormone) and shifts during your cycle can also cause discharge to come out of one or both of your nipples. However, because it could also be a sign of breast cancer, if you're getting discharge all of a sudden and/or the texture or amount has increased, talk to your doctor about it. Just to be on the safe side.
9. Nipples Shouldn’t Be Inflamed
The more I study the body, the more I realize that inflammation, anywhere, is problematic. Nipples are certainly not exempt. If you happen to notice that yours are red, painful or even super warm whenever you touch them, that could be a heads up that you've got either mastitis (a blocked milk gland) or possibly even breast cancer. Bottom line here is, don't ignore it. Make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible. (By the way, if your nipples are constantly dry and nothing seems to relieve them, that also could be an indication of breast cancer; another reason to book an appointment with your physician.)
10. Stimulating Nipples Can Help to Induce Labor
Something that I learned while training to become a doula is stimulating your nipples when you're right around your due date can actually help to induce labor. The reason why is when nipples are touched/rubbed on, it increases the production of oxytocin which can help to trigger contractions. Matter of fact, women who have their nipples stimulated during this time tend to have shorter deliveries and less pregnancy complications too. While we're here, it should also go on record that nipples can change color during pregnancy. And, it's not uncommon for a breastfeeding mom to lactate whenever she hears a baby (any baby) cry.
11. Think Long and Hard Before Getting Them Pierced
So, here's the thing about getting one or both of your nipples pierced—they come with more cons than pros.
Let's do the cons first, shall we? Getting them pierced is pretty painful (the healing process takes around eight weeks). Switching them out can prove to make things worse in the long run (the new earring may not go all the way in and/or it can be as painful as the original piercing). Some people are still cleaning theirs, months later, before foreplay (due to the crusting that continues to accumulate). Because your bra is rubbing up against your piercings for hours on end, you are constantly at risk for an infection. Then there's the scar tissue (especially if you're someone who is prone to keloids); it can affect the shape, size and sensitivity of your breasts.
OK, so what the heck are the pros? Well, it can definitely take arousal levels up a few notches. Oh, and if you're wondering if you'll still be able to breastfeed, most health care experts and piercers say "yes".
12. Nipplegasms Are Very Real
I once read an article on Live Science's site that was entitled, "Nipples 'Light Up' Brain the Way Genitals Do". I'm thinking that when it comes to my final nipple fact, the point is pretty self-explanatory. Because our nipples have a lot of nerves in them, that makes them really sensitive. And so, when they are fondled/caressed/licked/etc., that can result in us climaxing, just from the stimuli alone. If you've never had one before and want to test this out, while there are no guarantees, deep breathing, lots of foreplay and intentional attention given to your nipples can certainly help. And shoot, even if it doesn't happen, you at least had a damn good time trying. Right?
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
What would you do if you just got laid off from your corporate job and you had a serendipitous encounter with someone who gave you the opportunity of a lifetime? Tamara Taylor was faced with that decision in 2013 after she was let go from her sales profit and operations coach job in the restaurant industry and met a then-up-and-coming stylist, Law Roach, on a flight to L.A. She and Roach struck up a conversation, and he shared how he was looking for someone to run his business and was impressed by her skills. While she took his business card, she was unsure if it would lead to anything. But, boy, was she wrong. Two weeks later, after packing up her home to move back to her hometown of Chicago, she called Roach; he asked if they could meet the following day, and the rest is herstory.
Taylor founded Mastermind MGMT, an agency that represents some of Hollywood’s best “image architects” like Roach, Kellon Deryck, and Kollin Carter, who are responsible for creating unforgettable style and beauty moments for celebrities like Zendaya, Megan Thee Stallion, Taraji P. Henson, and more. Taylor and her company possess an array of functions, but her biggest role is to be her client’s advocate. We hear endless stories about how creatives aren’t paid or underpaid in the entertainment industry, but Taylor ensures that her clients get their piece of the pie. The entrepreneur opened up about her company and her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, in an exclusive interview with xoNecole.
“I always say that I'm an artist advocate first, deal closer second. So my primary focus is to just make sure that the artist is getting everything that they deserve, whether it's compensation or, you know, certain accommodations, but just making sure that they have everything that they need to be able to show up and provide the best service that they're hired for,” she explained.
“So you know, in the beginning, it was hard because I didn't have any experience, and the artists who I was working with at the time–we were learning together, meaning neither of us had assisted anyone. We didn't have mentors in our specific fields. So every deal was like a new learning experience for us from the styling side and also from the business side, and so it took, you know, doing some research, using some very creative tactics, to find out information in the industry and just starting to request accommodations that I knew other artists were granted, who maybe didn't look like my artists.”
Photo courtesy of Tamara Taylor
Ten years later, there’s still not many people who are doing what Taylor is doing. However, things have gotten easier thanks to the research and connections she made in the beginning. During Mastermind MGMT’s ten-year anniversary celebration, she announced her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that focuses on helping young entrepreneurs through a 12-week program. The program is divided into “two routes.” The first route is for aspiring creative artists who want to start a business from their talent and all the things they need to learn about business, such as taxes, life insurance, etc. The second route is for practicing creative artists who are already in the industry but need resources such as how to plan for retirement or how to sustain themselves if they can’t work for a short amount of time, i.e., the pandemic.
“I just feel that I'm able to have a business and be successful because of their art as well. And so there are things that I know, I tried to teach it to them but understanding that I can only do so much because I'm not a subject matter expert in those fields,” she said. “So I at least want to be able to provide the resources, and then if they make their grown decision not to do it, then that's on them. But you know, I could be guilt-free and taking advantage of the resources that I'm also providing to them.”
Taylor continues to be an innovator in her industry by always pushing the boundaries of creativity and thinking one step ahead of everyone else. The Chicago-bred businesswoman is moving into the tech space thanks to a new invention created with her clients in mind, and she is looking forward to bigger collaborations in the future. Follow Mastermind MGMT on Instagram @mastermind_mgmt for more information.
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Feature image courtesy of Tamara Taylor