Male lactation is real and here's why it happens

There is a common misconception that male nipples have no purpose, however that is far from the truth.

Male lactation is real and here's why it happens
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Unlike many women, those with a male reproductive system cannot use their nipples to breastfeed babies. However, experts have revealed that male and female breasts actually have more in common than you think.

Back to the basics

For starters, it’s important to know that all human embryos are identical until the fourth week of pregnancy. So, before an embryo has a sex, it already develops other organs of the body, including mammary glands—an organ responsible for producing milk. As a result, nipples are also created way before the sex has been determined.

The reason why most men cannot lactate is because women have twice as many pituitary glands—which produce prolactin that then stimulates mammary glands to churn out milk. These pituitary glands increase tenfold during and after pregnancy.

In a majority of men, prolactin levels will never surge like it does for an expecting or new mother, however, there are certain health problems that could prompt a surge.

According to Healthline the condition is known as male galactorrhea, also known as nipple discharge.

What is male galactorrhea?

Galactorrhea is when milk-like discharge begins to leak from your nipples, and the fluid is different to breastmilk which usually comes out during or after pregnancy. The phenomenon is more common in women aged between 20 and 35, however men with certain conditions, like hyperthyroidism and malnutrition, can experience it as well.

These conditions cause an increase in the production of prolactin which then leads to fluid discharge from your nipples.

Reminder: this fluid cannot be used to feed a baby.

What is the purpose of male nipples?

Nipples are nipples, even if you have something in between your legs. Just as some women get weak in the knees when someone caresses their nipples, many men feel the same sensation as well. In fact, the only purpose of male nipples is actually pleasure. Sexologist, Carlos Cavazos tells Cosmopolitan:

With males, the nipples serve no other function aside from being an erogenous zone. But everyone is different, and what might feel good to some might hurt, tickle, or irritate others.
For many males, nipple play is required to achieve orgasm. For others, the pure act of nipple play can bring them to an earth-shattering climax.