Why Do Men Have Nipples?



Men have nipples because women do.
The importance of nipples to women is obvious: they deliver milk to suckling babies – up to 900 ml (1.58 pints) a day! Other mammals manage even more impressive feats of lactation. In 2010 a cow from Wisconsin with the catchy name of Ever-Green- View My 1326-ET produced over (175.98 pints) of milk a day for a year! (Cows normally manage around 31 litres a day (54.55 pints).
However, nipples appear to serve no purpose at all in men. Having nipples is part of what defines a mammal (mammals are animals that suckle their young, for which they need nipples), but not all male mammals have nipples. Stallions (male horses) don’t have nipples, neither do male rats or mice.
Men probably have nipples because there isn’t a good enough reason for them not to. When embryos are developing in the womb they start off fairly unisex – both male and female embryos begin developing all the same body structures, and these include nipples, which appear around the fourth week of development. By the seventh week, the baby’s body begins to assume one gender or another as the sex hormones kick in, causing male babies to develop their sex organs, with the vaginal labia fusing to form the scrotum and the clitoris developing into the penis.
Nipples are not sex-linked body features in the same way as the genitals, so no signals arrive to cause the developing male embryo to lose them. If having nipples were a significant cause of problems for men or in any way affected their survival and chances of having babies, there would have been pressure via natural selection for them to be lost. But this obviously hasn’t been the case, so there has been no reason for men to evolve some special mechanism to lose their nipples during the development of the embryo.
This is a long-winded way of saying that men have nipples because all embryos have them and all embryos have them because the female ones will need them later.
But this does not explain everything. Male nipples are fully formed and can become functional. During pregnancy and birth a baby is exposed to heavy doses of its mother’s hormones and sometimes, high levels of female sex hormones activate the breasts of boy babies so that they are lactating when they are born. This unusual occurrence is called ‘witches’ milk’. There is also a medical condition called gynecomastia that causes enlargement of male breasts, which can cause milk to leak from the nipples. Men can also develop breast cancer.
Why spend energy and resources developing fully functional nipples? Wouldn’t it be worth evolving away male nipples to protect men from breast cancer? Nobody knows the answers to these questions.


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1 Comment on "Why Do Men Have Nipples?"

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Nkwazema
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hummm quiet interesting

wpDiscuz

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