Why do men have nipples?

Ever wondered why men have nipples? We'll break it down for you.

male nipples
© Getty Images
male nipples

Why on earth do men have nipples? They have no use, except maybe the fact that they'd look pretty weird without them. But aside from that, one would think they would have disappeared over the course of evolution.

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To demystify the male nipple, we must return to the very origin. A process that starts well before birth…

The origin of the nipple

Everything happens in the first hours after fertilization, during the first stages of embryo development. Until a certain point, boys and girls evolve in the same way and therefore both develop nipples. Ian Tattersall, a paleoanthropologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, says:

To put it simply, men and women are all built from the same genetic material.

From six to seven weeks of gestation, however, differences begin to appear. This is because of the Y chromosome genes, which men exclusively have. These typically male genes gradually induce the development of the testes, which then secrete testosterone.

This masculine characteristics develop, the genitals begin to form, while the beginnings of a future female identity are stopped. A sudden stop that does not make the nipples disappear, however. Once they've formed, there's no getting rid of them.

Useless, therefore indispensable!

Why did Mother Nature decide to do it this way? Well, men's nipples are useless, certainly, but they are not unfavourable either. Tattersall explains:

There is no real metabolic cost to having nipples.

Not useful but not embarrassing or deleterious, either, so why then bother to eliminate them?

A fantasy that can unfortunately sometimes cost dearly for some unlucky men. Contrary to popular belief, breast cancer is not only the prerogative of the fairer sex, and some men also develop breast tumours. Fortunately, the risks are low, male cancers account for less than 1% of cases, and are minimal when men lead healthy lives.

Obesity and alcohol consumption are the main aggravating factors. Eating balanced meals and drinking moderately are the secrets to keeping the nipples in top form! Just common sense…

Can a world without men exist? Science states we might just find out Can a world without men exist? Science states we might just find out