My Nipple Hurts. What Could Be Causing This?

Question

Asked by Ashley Lu

My Nipple Hurts. What Could Be Causing This?

I'm 17 years old, and my left nipple started hurting 2 days ago, 3 days after I finished my period. It's also a little red and warm, though it doesn't itch. The pain woke me up last night, but quickly disappeared. My mom says it's growing pains. What do you think?

Answer

Breast cancer awareness is a good thing; but the flip side is that young women are so hyper- aware, they start to fear that every breast change might be cancer. Thankfully, breast cancer in women under 20 is so rare that the American Cancer Society doesn't even track it, statistically speaking. In addition, what you describe isn't a typical breast cancer symptom.  So please don't worry about this being cancer; the likelihood is tiny.

Your mom's right - you can continue to have "growing pains" after you think your breasts have stopped growing. The kind of pain you describe is often hormonal, and can come and go as hormone levels increase and wane. These major fluctuations gradually disappear as you get into your 20s, but you may very well continue to feel pain - in just your nipple or in your entire breast, on either or both sides - throughout your childbearing years, especially around the time of your period, or if you're pregnant.

Another possibility would be an infection behind your nipple, in one of the milk ducts. Again, this is rare; but If the pain continues for longer than a few weeks; or certainly if it worsens, then it would be best to consult a doctor. Hopefully it won't come to that, and this will simply resolve itself on its own soon.

Answered by PJ Hamel