15 Reasons You Have Sore Nipples (Or Are Experiencing Breast Pain, In General)

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why are my nipples sore

Being born female means that, occasionally, your body will do weird things. Sometimes, it’ll make you cranky. Other times, you’ll wake up one morning to find a huge zit right before your photo shoot.

However, if you’re like a lot of other women, one of the more common things that will happen is that your nipples will start being sore for what seems like no apparent reason. You may find yourself asking, "Why are my nipples sore?" but common sense will tell you that your body is trying to signal something to you when you’re getting symptoms out of the blue. Always check with a medical professional should you experience any of these symptoms.

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If you’re wondering why you have sore nipples, you’re not alone. What causes sore nipples? Here are some of the most common reasons why you could end up a little sore up top.

1. You’re pregnant.

Yep, we had to address this one first. Due to hormonal fluctuations that occur, most women who end up getting pregnant will have sore nipples as well as tender breasts during the first couple of months of pregnancy. Some might even have this symptom throughout pregnancy as well.

2. You’re about to have your period, or are on your period.

This is the other major “common knowledge” reason why your nipples might get sore once in a while. Since hormone fluctuations are a part of keeping your monthly cycle going, it’s unsurprising that a lot of women end up getting tender breasts right when their period is about to start.

3. The clothing or bra that you’re wearing is too tight.

Excessively tight clothing can cause blood flow issues around the breast, which, in turn, could cause nipple pain. When in doubt, loose-fitting clothing will be your best choice.

4. You go to the gym with a poorly-made sports bra.

Are you a fellow gym lover? Well, there’s some good news and some bad news here. The good news is that it’s very likely that the soreness that you’re dealing with is chafing-induced and isn’t a sign of anything serious going on with your body. The bad news is that you’re going to need a better fitting bra before you go on that 10K run.

5. You have mastitis.

Mastitis is one of the most common infections that can occur around the breast area, and while it typically affects pregnant or breastfeeding women, it can also happen to anyone else. According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms that tend to occur with mastitis include red, swollen breasts, a high fever, and breasts that are unusually warm to the touch.

6. Your breasts are being affected by a skin condition.

Though it’s rare, it is possible to have nipples that are affected by eczema, dermatitis, or a similar skin condition. If your nipples look unusually scaly and you’ve had a history of skin problems, you may want to consult a dermatologist about what’s causing that nipple soreness.

7. You have Paget’s Disease of the nipple.

Another even rarer reason why your nipples are sore could lie in Paget’s Disease. This is an unusual rash that causes itchy, scaly nipples much like eczema would. However, if you have Paget’s Disease, you will not notice any improvement if you try topical medications.

If you have Paget’s Disease, you really need to run to a doctor because around 90 percent of all women who have this symptom also have breast cancer.

8. Your laundry detergent isn’t making your body happy.

Do your nipples get sore around laundry day? Your nipples are some of the most sensitive bits of your body, and it’s not surprising that they often will get sore as a sign of a light allergy to detergents. Speaking as someone who’s got detergent issues themselves, the best way to avoid this tenderness is to switch to an organic laundry detergent.

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9. The hormone replacements or birth control you’re taking is causing side effects.

Hormones are, more often than not, what causes sore nipples in women. This means that any medication that you have with hormones in it could end up having sore nipples as a side effect.

10. You’ve got a yeast infection.

Surprising, right? Yeast infections usually happen in your mouth or vagina. However, excess yeast growth can also in your nipples — and like oral yeast infections, is usually called thrust.

This kind of soreness isn’t the typical dull pain you’d get. Rather, thrush will feel like a sharp, stinging pain that just won’t go away. If you’re breastfeeding, the infection can also spread to the baby, so you might want to get that checked out.

11. You went a little too crazy in bed.

Ever had a round of sex that was just crazy intense? If it involved a little bit too much nipple play, it’s possible that you’re just a bit sore after sexual activity.

12. You have cysts on or under your nipples.

Cysts are fluid-filled sacs or lumps that can develop anywhere on the body, and if you are unlucky, they can end up happening around your breasts or nipples. Though they aren’t always painful, if the cyst is large or infected, it’s possible that it could be the reason why you have sore nipples. That being said, cysts are typically benign issues.

13. Breastfeeding is taking a toll on you.

We can file this under the “Well, Duh” section of breast pain causes. Breastfeeding is pretty grueling, and having a baby that’s constantly hungry can easily cause nipples to be sore, cracked, and dry. In some cases, it can even cause bleeding. A little nipple butter can help a lot!

14. You’ve got milk duct ecstasia.

Also known as mammary duct ecstasia, this is a condition where your milk duct gets clogged or blocked by a sticky fluid. This doesn’t usually cause a problem, per se, but some women who get it can experience mild pain. If left alone, it can also cause mastitis.

15. You’re going through puberty or menopause.

The funny thing about having sore nipples is that it’s not just an “adult woman” type of thing. If your hormones are gearing up or winding down due to puberty or menopause, it’s pretty likely that you will experience some type of tenderness or soreness there. Thankfully, the soreness tends to pass as your hormones even out.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart is a Jack-of-all-trades writer based out of Red Bank, New Jersey. When she's not writing, she's drinking red wine and chilling with some cool cats. You can follow her @bluntandwitty on Twitter.

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