10 Reasons Why Your Nipples Might Hurt

Because one in eight women will experience breast cancer in her lifetime, we’re trained to be on the lookout for changes in our breasts. So when you experience some nipple pain, your first reaction may be to jump to the conclusion that you have breast cancer.

While it’s true that nipple pain is occasionally caused by cancer, that’s not usually the case. Nipple pain is actually a pretty rare cancer symptom, but it’s a common symptom of lots of other things that may be happening in your body.

If you suspect you have cancer, don’t hesitate to get checked out. But if your nipples begin to feel sore and you don’t know why, it’s probably not cancer. Here are 10 reasons not to freak out and immediately assume you have breast cancer just because your breasts or nipples feel sore.

10. skin conditions

Eczema, dermatitis, or other skin conditions could be causing the pain in your nipples. A sign that it’s a skin condition rather than something more serious will likely be the presence of visible flaking, crusting, or blistering to go along with the pain. These conditions are usually a result of skin irritation and might be remedied by a simple change in the type of laundry detergent or body wash you use. If the condition persists or if you have concerns about it, see a doctor.

9. puberty

Chalk it up to those hormones! As young female bodies change and prepare for their work as adults, a variety of hormones causes all sorts of fun symptoms, like acne, mood swings, and—you guessed it—breast and nipple pain. If you’re a teenager, chances are slim that you have breast cancer, but puberty could be a big reason for the changes you feel in your breasts. Talk to your doctor about any suggestions they may have for dealing with puberty symptoms.

8. periods

Changes in your hormones at different times in your menstrual cycle can impact the sensation in your nipples and breasts. Many women experience nipple pain right before their periods as a part of their premenstrual syndrome, but it’s possible to feel this soreness at other times as well, including during or shortly following ovulation.

7. pregnancy

Breast soreness and nipple soreness are among the first signs of pregnancy and can also occur at other stages of pregnancy. As your hormones change to meet the needs of your baby, you’ll likely begin to notice a variety of subtle changes in your body, so changes in your nipples are nothing to worry about if you’re pregnant or think you may be pregnant. Consult your doctor if you have any questions though, especially if you’re only noticing changes in one breast rather than both.

Click “next” below to learn more reasons why your nipples may be hurting.

Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?