All kinds of surprises pop up during pregnancy. Your absolute favorite meal suddenly turns your stomach, and insomnia starts taking over your nights. There are also plenty of bodily changes outside of stretch marks and swollen ankles (those are just the two you probably hear about the most). On that note, may we introduce you to your new pregnancy companion, dark nipples? This shift in nipple shade may feel alarming at first, but don’t hit the panic button! It’s a natural part of pregnancy. If you think about it, it’s pretty remarkable how your body adapts as it cultivates life. Seeing a dramatic change in your breasts, which could play a vital role in future breastfeeding (if that’s the route you take), might feel jarring at first. That’s just because you need more info, Mama.
Dark nipples and dark areolas happen because of hormone changes. You can blame progesterone and estrogen in particular for giving you this possible scare. Breasts change a lot during pregnancy, and dark nipples are all part of it. Some people even think that this change is evolutionary. Since babies don’t have excellent eyesight after birth but need constant feedings to grow and thrive, some experts believe dark areolas helped them identify the breast with better accuracy.
Are darker nipples a sign of pregnancy?
If you’ve been trying hard to conceive, you may be paying close attention to any bodily changes. And sometimes, in early pregnancy, changes happen pretty quickly. Dark areolas can be the first sign of pregnancy you see, and it can happen just weeks after conception. Areolas can also appear much more prominent in size.
That said, there are other reasons for darkened nipples that have nothing to do with pregnancy. In children, it may be a sign of puberty. For adults, it can also signal health concerns such as diabetes. If you think it might be something else with medical significance, make sure you monitor your temperature and other symptoms and talk with your doctor.
Are there any other significant causes of nipple discoloration?
If you’re trying to tell by your breasts whether you’re pregnant, just know that a test will eventually confirm if you are. When you’re trying to conceive, you may be looking for symptoms in conjunction with dark areolas that could point toward pregnancy. Well, sore and sensitive breasts are also a potential pregnancy indicator, often caused by increased progesterone levels.
Aside from pregnancy, diabetes, and puberty, oral contraception may cause a change in nipple color. Another possible culprit? Menstruation, which means that they may have gotten subtly darker around your period without you realizing it at first. Cancer is also a possibility, but it’s rare and shouldn’t be the first place your mind goes when handling nipple discoloration.
Do dark nipples remain through pregnancy?
Not only are darker and larger areolas likely to stay throughout your pregnancy, but they also might stick around if you choose to breastfeed after birth. That’s not the only change to expect in your breasts, either. Many women who breastfeed often swell when they need to release milk, increasing breast size. And you can have sore nipples while breastfeeding as well.
Texture may change around the nipple, too. The Montgomery’s tubercles, which are oil glands that’ll give off a bumpy appearance, will appear in 30 to 50 percent of pregnant women. Again, don’t let these alarm you. They perform an essential job — helping to keep germs away.
When do dark areolas disappear?
Nipples typically start returning to their typical shade a few months after having a baby. While breastfeeding, they’re likely to stay darkened for a bit. However, breast changes don’t always go away. Some people notice their breasts getting droopier after pregnancy. Others feel like they may get stretch marks if their breasts grew a lot during the pregnancy. These changes may seem upsetting at first, but it’s imperative to remind yourself that your body did a beautiful thing. It created life, and you should be proud of how it looks after such an incredible journey. (And know that it’s also entirely normal to feel moments of insecurity about these bodily changes.)
When should I see a doctor?
If dark nipples are your only symptom, you shouldn’t worry about it. For those hoping to conceive, it usually makes the most sense to schedule an appointment with an OB/GYN when you get a positive pregnancy test. But if your nipples are one of many disturbing symptoms — and you feel sick or feverish — you should schedule an appointment with a medical professional to rule out anything major.
Are there other areola differences I should be aware of?
It’s totally normal for your breasts to change over time. So, if your boobs are doing things that are making you a little anxious, here are a few weird and totally normal things they may do.
- Big or small nipples. The size of your nips is not a tell-tale sign of anything health related. Some people just have large or small nipples. So, try not to read into it because when it comes to nipples, size doesn’t matter.
- The color of your nipples (like this shade) is not a sign of your health. Even if you can see your veins through them, it’s still completely normal.
- Whether your nipples stick out or in, it doesn’t matter. They may even go from sticking out to sticking in. It’s also normal for you to have one inverted nipple on just one breast.
- Fun fact. Some people don’t have visible areolas. Although many women have a circle of color around their nipples, some areolas are tiny or match the person’s skin color. Whether you have visible or invisible areolas, your breasts are great.
- Have you ever seen a bump or two (or 10) around your nipples? That’s totally normal. They may seem like whiteheads, but they’re actually called Montgomery glands.
- Nipple Pain. During pregnancy or your menstrual cycle, tender breasts and nipples are normal. However, if your nipples are constantly tender or itchy, see your doctor as soon as possible. There are a few things that can cause nipple pain, like mastitis or a benign cyst. So, just to make sure your breasts are healthy, get them checked out.