What Does It Mean When Your Nipples Are Sore?

Have your nipples been a little, or a lot, sore lately? Find out what could be causing this problem and possible ways of dealing with it.
What Does It Mean When Your Nipples Are Sore?

Although there are obviously some benefits to having nipples that are sensitive to the touch, having sore nipples isn’t pleasant at all. Not only is it physically uncomfortable, but it can also make you wonder if something is wrong. After all, healthy nipples shouldn’t hurt.

So, if you’ve noticed that your nipples are feeling especially tender lately, the culprit could be any number of things. Here we will talk about some of the most common causes and what you can do about them.

#1 Regular Menstrual Cycles

mentrual calendar on the phone

Most women experience changes in their breasts and nipples at certain times in their menstrual cycles. In fact, one of the chief complaints that women have about approaching “that time of the month” is the fact that their chest hurts at the slightest touch and that they appeared to grow a cup size overnight (although, some women aren’t complaining about this result).

Obviously, if this is the cause of your soreness, give it a couple days and it will go away on its own. You may want to reduce your intake of salt around this time period so that your body doesn’t retain excess water and make the irritation worse.

#2 Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

pregnant woman touching her belly with hands

Not only will you likely experience breast soreness when you’re pregnant, but you may also get it after the fact too if you choose to breastfeed your little one. During pregnancy, there isn’t much that you can do as your hormones are likely going to be going crazy and sore nipples is just one of the side effects.

However, if you have already given birth and are breastfeeding, there are a couple things you can do to ease the pain. For instance, encourage your baby to open his or her mouth wider while eating and, once they are done, remove them from your nipple gently by pulling their chin down to break the suction.

#3 Wearing the Wrong Size Bra

woman cheaking bra

When you wear a bra that is too big or too small (which it is estimated is the case with 80% or more of women), your nipples are going to feel the consequences. Too big and you risk chaffing when your girls are sliding around; too small and you’re going to squish the life out of them which, of course, hurts. It’s like being smashed against the wall day in and day out. Ouch!

A lot of lingerie stores offer to size you for free. While it may be slightly uncomfortable to do, especially if you’re rather shy, the few minutes that you’ll spend slightly underdressed with a person you’ll probably never see again is worth the comfort you’ll gain when you’re wearing the right bra size.

#4 Exercising Without the Proper Sports Bra

young blonde woman in pink sports bra rests and adjusting music on portable music player

If you are a regular exerciser who participates in grueling workouts or plays sports, your sports bra may be too blame. First, it has to be the right size to offer you adequate support for your girls (when your sports bra is too big, your nipples could rub against it and cause chafing and this alone will make them tender to the touch, and not in a good way), but it also has to be the correct kind. They make different types for various intensities to make sure you aren’t bouncing all over, causing soreness.

To get the correct sports bra for your body shape, size and activity of choice, read the tags thoroughly before purchasing one or ask a sales associate at the store. This can save you a lot of pain and aggravation in the long run.

#5 Sustaining an Injury

Any hit to your chest area can make your nipples sore to the touch, causing you to wince even while engaged in a relatively mild activity, such as putting on your bra. Being in an automobile accident, for example, can cause nipple tenderness if the seat belt cuts right across your breasts at the point of impact (which is partially why your seat belt should sit squarely between your breasts to avoid this).

As the injury heals, so too will your nipples. The soreness and swelling will go down and you’ll be pain free in no time.

#6 Dry Skin

female legs and the glass of water

This cause is especially prominent during cold winter months when you spend a lot of time inside. The furnace tends to suck the moisture from the air, leaving your skin (and your nipples) dry and cracked.

The best way to combat this is to make sure you always use moisturizers when you get out of the shower. Also, drink a lot of water throughout the day so that you stay hydrated from the inside out.

#7 Infection

Doctor with female patient

An infection in the breast tissue, such as mastitis or a yeast infection, can cause soreness, redness, and swelling in the nipples. If your nipple ducts are inflamed or infected, you may have mastitis. In addition to soreness, you may notice other symptoms such as a red hue to the surrounding skin, possible discharge, and skin that feels hot to the touch. If this is the case, you need to seek medical attention. Sometimes it clears up by itself, but it may also require antibiotics so it is best to find out which route to take from a medical doctor.

#8 Breast Cancer

love your brest note on a paper

One of the most serious causes of sore nipples is breast cancer. If you’re unsure about the cause of your nipple soreness or it comes and does not go away with your period or pregnancy, it’s always best to go to the doctor and have it checked out. That way, if it is something serious like breast cancer, you can deal with it right away which increases your chances of treating it successfully.

While sore nipples are usually not a cause for concern, they can be uncomfortable and may affect your quality of life. In most cases, sore nipples are not dangerous. f you’re experiencing persistent or severe soreness, or if you have other symptoms such as fever, discharge, or changes in breast shape or size, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider to rule out any underlying conditions and get appropriate treatment.

Sensitive nipples can be a treat, but ones that hurt are no fun. Take care of yours and you’ll fall into the former category, which is sure to bring about more smiles than the latter. 

About the author

Christina DeBusk

Changing careers mid-life from law enforcement to writing, Christina spends her days helping others enrich their businesses and personal lives one word at a time.


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  • I don’t know if I’m starting my period or if I’m pregnant. My nipples got sore for about two days now and I haven’t had sex in a few weeks. They are sore sometimes and then it won’t then it will come back. It looks bruised up sometimes, but not all the time, so I don’t know what to do or what to think of.. Help me ? Also I been having my tummy tight down below it and I keep feeling something there..

    • Maybe go and get yourself checked out for peace of mind. Then if you are pregnant you can look at your options before it gets beyond the point of no return. Dont be afraid to get checked and if you are pregnant dont be afraid to make the tough choices if you want to, your only very young still and have your whole life ahead of you. Good Luck

    • I ve dis nipples soreness for 5days i guess, did a pregnancy test but came out negative. Do not know i am confused. Should i wait for more weeks and do another pt?

  • I’m not sure if I’m pregnant or what it is. I had sex with my boyfriend about two weeks ago. My nipples have hurt before and I have an irregular period so its hard to tell

    • me too! i have irregular period when i asked my doctor she said ur prolactin hormone is high , that causes my period to mess up and caused my boobs to hurt like hell near my period .

  • my nipples hurts a lot i cant sand smells i mean any smells i am super tired and sleepy i wanna sleep 24/7 i have 5 days for my period watts going on with me someone plz help me tell me watts going on with me

  • Y nipples have been dore sbout 3 weeks my cycle comes on in 3 days theyve never been sore weeks at a time

  • My nipples recently started being sore and I had missed my period 2 weeks ago but haven’t had sex in like 5-6 months i’m not sure whats going on

  • I’ve had really sore/sensitive nipples for over 2 weeks it’s that bad it hurts to wear a bra (bra is fitted) I’ve been to the doctors and had test done I’m not pregnate and everything seems normal any suggestions??

  • so i had sore nipples for about two days now and i don;t know why , i was worried but now i’m relieved bc it could be bc of sports pra or period

  • My nipples are sore but I have no monthly due to the depo I have not had a shot since December and still no monthly I have been have cramps off and on that feel like monthly cramps am i pg

  • my nipples are really really sore, i was getting dried when i came out the bath last night when the towel touched them i could have screamed, i have the implant in and has worked well, i dont have dry skin or anything on my boobs, i have 3 children, please help

  • I was wondering lately , me and my boyfriend had unprotected sex and after a week and a half my right nipple started getting sore but not my left. I wanted to know what that means

  • I had sex unprotected sex about 4 times in the past 2-3 weeks. My nipples hurt and I am still waiting for my period. I do not know if I am pregnant. Does this mean that I am?


  • On the second of January I was on my periods that lasts on the fifth and on the 27 my periods starts again. since then there’s a weak and watery blood that comes and it’s been 4 days now and I’m secular active, my nipples sore either. Please help

  • This helped a lot. It’s either because I wear the wrong size bra or my period is starting. My nipples don’t hurt as much anymore.

  • i am 36 years old and i have tender nipples and i cant get pregnant i dont get my periods anymore they hurt to the touch i dont know what to do

  • I had sex with guy last Friday and we had sex without condom. Is it mean I am pregnant or not?

  • Hi I not long went of the pill, and have unprotected sex with my boyfriend. The past week I’ve had really sore nipples. And my periods haven’t came. Should I take a pregnancy test?

  • me and my bf had unprotected sex last week or longer than that now and all of a sudden my nipples started hurt for the past couple of days and my periods are irregular and never come on the same day of the month and ive never had issues with nipple pains so just wondering what could be up, i have had a baby before and never had nipple pains nor have i ever had pains with them before starting my menstrual periods before …

  • my nipple sore .. twice this month in dont have my period yet. but I try to have PT’s twice and its all negative. i dont know wat is this.