It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, everyone knows this: nipples harden in different situations. But why is this actually the case?
The phenomenon of hardening of the nipples can be observed most often in cold, chills, or during sexual arousal. In other words, situations that seem to have little in common. However, at the anatomical level, the same thing happens.
Why do nipples become hard?
Under the areola are small muscles. By contracting, this causes the nipples to be pushed out through the skin.
This is the same process behind goosebumps. Nerves under the skin react to stimuli (cold) by activating the same muscles (= septal muscle corrector, Translator: Hair straightening muscles) activate. Due to its contraction, the hair shaft straightens and the blood vessels are compressed.
Also interesting: this is why the body begins to shiver
How are goosebumps and hard nipples aroused?
The process is initiated by a specific part of the sympathetic nervous system. The same part that amplifies the heartbeat and leads to the release of energy. A stress response occurs for a variety of reasons – whether it is fear, joy, or excitement.
In a 2016 study, researchers found which neurons are involved in making your hair stand on end and your nipples hard when it’s cold, cold, or stimulated.1 The neurotransmitter norepinephrine activates nerve cells, stimulating hair follicles to do so. These then contract to such an extent that the contraction of many small muscles under the skin leads to localized stiffness. A process that is hardly noticed in many parts of the body or seen as just chills. On the breast leads to hard nipples.
Nipples are erogenous zones
In addition, the nipples are known to be erogenous zones. This means that the nipples can also become erect through stimulation (such as stroking and kissing). The right touch activates the so-called genital sensory cortex in the brain.
Women are usually more sensitive than men in the nipple area.2 A recipient woman especially should be able to reach sexual climax through nipple stimulation alone. By the way, the likelihood of this increases if you stimulate several erogenous zones at the same time.3 Sex researchers know that this activates different areas of the genital sensory cortex.
Also interesting: What you should know about sexual headaches
Sometimes purely mechanical reasons
Since the nipples are sensitive, they can also react to unpleasant touches in reality. This can include rubbing the fabric of a T-shirt or bra, and even a painful bump in the chest. Breastfeeding women may have had painful experiences with it.