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 email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
There’s nothing quite as humbling as navigating adulthood with no instruction manual. Since the turn of the decade, it seems like everything in our society that could go wrong has, inevitably, gone wrong. From the global pandemic, our crippling student debt problem, the loneliness crisis, layoffs, global warming, recession, and not to mention figuring out what to eat for dinner every night. This constant state of uncertainty has many of us wondering, when are the grown-ups coming to fix all of this?
But the catch is, we are the new grown-ups.
As if it happened without our permission, we became the new adults. We are the members of society who are paying taxes, having children, getting married, and keeping our communities afloat, one iced latte at a time. Still, there’s something about doing all these grown-up duties that feel unnaturally grown-up. Enter the #teenagegirlinher20s.
If there’s one hashtag to give you the state of the next cohort of adults, it’s this one. Of the videos that have garnered over 3.9M views, you’ll find a collection of users who are overwhelmed by life’s pressing existential responsibilities, clung to nostalgia, and reminiscent of the days when their mom and dad took care of their insurance plans.
no like i cant explain to her why i had to buy multiple tank air dupes from aritzia #teenagegirlinher20s #fyp
The concept of being a 20-something or 30-something teenager is linked to the sentiment of not feeling “grown up enough” to do grown-up things while feeling underprepared and even nihilistic about whether that preparation even matters.
It’s our generation’s version of when we ask our grandmothers how old they are and they simply reply with, “I still feel 45,” all while being every bit of 76 years old. In this, we share a warped concept of time while clinging to a desire for infantilization.
Granted, the pandemic did a number on our concept of time. Many of us who started the pandemic in our early or mid-20s missed out on three fundamental years of socialization, career development, and personal milestones that traditionally help to mark our growth.
Our time to figure out and plan our next steps through fumbling yet active participation was put on pause indefinitely and then resumed provisionally. This in turn has left many of us hanging in the balance of uncertainty as we try to make sense of the disconnect between our minds and bodies in this missing gap of time.
Because we’re all still figuring out what the ramifications of being locked away and frozen in time by a global pandemic will have on us as a society, there really is no “right” way of making up for lost time. Feeling unprepared for any new chapter of life is a natural rite of passage, pandemic or not. However, it’s important to not stay stuck in the last age or period of life that made sense to us because self-growth is the truest evidence of personal progress.
So whether you’re leaning on your inner child, teenager, or 20-something for guidance as you fill the gap between your real age and pandemic age, know that it’s okay to grieve the person you thought you would be and the milestones you thought you’d hit before you ever knew what a pandemic was. If there’s anything that the pandemic taught us, it’s that we have the power to reimagine a better world and life for ourselves. And if we tap into our inner teenager as a compass, we can piece together our next chapter with a fresh outlook.
Sure, we’ve lost a couple of years, but there are still some really amazing ones ahead.
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