Why do men have nipples?


Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/06/30/why-do-men-have-nipples.html


I prefer my 6 year old daughter’s explanation. When my wife asked her why men had nipples she answered without missing a beat “In case they decide they want to be girls, like uncle Sam”


“The difference, of course, is that if you’re a genetic female, you will eventually develop breasts, whereas if you’re a genetic male, you won’t.”

Men do have breast tissue.

“You may be thinking: Men don’t have breasts, so how can they get breast cancer? The truth is that boys and girls, men and women all have breast tissue. The various hormones in girls’ and women’s bodies stimulate the breast tissue to grow into full breasts. Boys’ and men’s bodies normally don’t make much of the breast-stimulating hormones. As a result, their breast tissue usually stays flat and small. Still, you may have seen boys and men with medium-sized or big breasts. Usually these breasts are just mounds of fat. But sometimes men can develop real breast gland tissue because they take certain medicines or have abnormal hormone levels.”


“The difference, of course, is that if you’re a genetic female, you will eventually develop breasts, whereas if you’re a genetic male, you won’t.”

So…I don’t need an underwire? This will get interesting at work.


People forget that men and women are pretty close to biologically identical at the DNA level, and that the physical differences are entirely down to how our bodies respond to hormones caused by the second X or the Y chromosome.

Our genital structures are almost all entirely homologous to those of the other sex’s. Men even have a tiny, undeveloped uterus, the prostatic utricle.

Given that, it would almost be more surprising for one sex to have a structure that doesn’t exist at all in the other.





I would have gone with

but I probably know far more about intersex conditions than is useful in everyday life.


“Speak for yourself.”


And men are also affected by hormones in that area, I recall being alarmed as a teenager that my chest and nipples sort of swelled up, and was worried it might be some kind of cancer and my doctor just said it is hormones.


I always think about Hamlin in Clash of the Titans. You could have seen those things from space!


I’m sorry- he would require a much closer inspection.


At one of the Wrestlemania events in Tampa, they put up billboards advertising it and none of the wrestlers had nipples. It’s due either to some kind of common wrestling accident, or Florida’s law against the public display of nipples.


Stephen Jay Gould wrote an essay, “Vestigial Nipples and Clitoral Ripples” about this.


You had me at clitoral ripples.


In a comment on an earlier post about the Genderless Nipples Account I summarized Goulds article as follows: Essentially each feature objectively unnecessary in one sex is a result of the necessity in the other sex. Both originating from the same embrionic pathways expressed by hormones particular to each sex. Which is pretty much what Dr. Lehmiller explained in his blog. The original Gould article is on JSTOR which many don’t have access to, but it is also in Bully for Brontosaurus which looks to have this essay available to the public.


I can see where the makeup/camera trick failed to conceal a nipple. That said, I did once know guy without a belly button; all he had was a very shallow indent where it should have been.

I so read that as ‘clitoral nipples.



The visual that my mind immediately conjured when I read this…



“You were looking too closely!”