Why do men not produce milk

Male nipplesNo unnecessary adornment

When it comes to the question of why men also have nipples when they are not breastfeeding at all, Internet users of both sexes also think so:

"So that you can distinguish front and back."

"Because a man is a stunted copy of a woman."

"We'd just look stupid without it."

The real explanation lies in the prenatal development: "Men have nipples because the human being is created embryonically as a hybrid. This is genetically easier than shaping the specifics of the sex individually and determining them using their own genes."

After about six weeks in the womb, the male sex hormone testosterone may become active in the unborn child, explains Professor Carsten Niemitz, anatomist and biologist who worked at the Free University of Berlin:

"If you look at an embryo in the developmental stages, you can see in the first month that it is completely the same for later girls or boys, and in the second month, especially in the second half of the second month, you see a difference."

Men also have all the requirements for breastfeeding

Basically, the male breast even has all the prerequisites for breastfeeding, such as the - albeit atrophied - glands and the milk ducts. With certain hormonal disorders, small drops of a milk-like substance can even appear in very rare cases. And there have been reports of men breastfeeding earlier. Alexander von Humboldt, for example, came to a small village in Venezuela on a research trip in 1799. There they told him about a farmer:

"When the mother got sick, Francisco Lozano gave the baby the breast and breastfed it two or three times a day for five months."

Similar stories can be found in the ancient Talmud and even as late as the 19th century. The truth of the matter cannot be checked, and there is no mention of it in the specialist literature anyway. However, it seems possible that women who have never given birth can, for example, breastfeed the child of a deceased sister.

But the male nipples don't seem completely useless either. Internet users say there is a similarity to those of women:

"Men have nipples to gain pleasure"

The nipple: a man's erogenous zone

Indeed, the male nipples are often just as sensitive as the female ones, confirms the biologist Carsten Niemitz:

"That's the way it is, and the ability to straighten up by internal muscles is also controlled in exactly the same way. In the case of cold stimuli, you can often see something more clearly in the man's undershirt."

But it's not just about the nipples, the "warts", but about the male breast as a whole. Diseases can certainly develop here. In addition to the very rare cancer in this region in men, gynecomastia, an enlargement that can take on female proportions, occurs relatively often. Dr. Uwe von Fritschen, plastic surgeon from the Helios clinics in Berlin, explains the causes:

"In principle, a distinction is made between physiological, i.e." normal "breast enlargements, that would be in practically all newborns, then again during puberty and finally also in older men, it is almost always the case. And then there are shifts in the hormone balance that can come from different causes. Hormone-forming tumors, it can be a disorder of the thyroid function, cirrhosis of the liver, drugs are often, also popular drugs, but very often it is of course also being overweight. "

Male suffering from breasts that appear feminine

The biologist Professor Niemitz tells another example about gynecomastia: "In the early days of the development of the birth control pill there was something like that too, at that time the doses that were in these pills were very high, it is reported from a factory in Mexico that there were the breasts developed because they breathed in those hormones from the abrasion of the pills that made it to the assembly line when they were sorted into the foil. "

Is a male breast that appears feminine to be more of a blemish or a disease? Dr. Uwe von Fritschen:

"There are large studies that show that young people in particular suffer considerably from having breasts that would be the pride of every class of girls. They are socially isolated, no longer do sports, and that is also disease-related."

In male adolescents, the enlarged breast almost always disappears on its own after puberty. But, as I said, you are often teased. One would think that such a boy should first lose weight with sporting activities before attempting an expensive operation that is never completely free of side effects. However, this is easy to say, because the "feminine" breast is also visible through the T-shirt.

"And in such cases you can also exceptionally say, of course, he has to lose weight, starvation often doesn't work so well, he doesn't dare to exercise, for example you vacuum the part, which is not a major intervention, that you have to do it in the first place on the way to do a little something on his body. "

Most surgical therapy consists of a combination of liposuction and removal of the glandular body. How complicated, how serious is such an operation in men in general? That depends mainly on the size of the breast and the texture of the skin, says Uwe von Fritschen.

"The smaller the breast is of course and the firmer the skin, the fewer scars you have to make, sometimes just a very small incision below the nipple, but if it is a very large breast and a large excess of skin, then you have to somehow have to remove the excess skin remove, and then there will be more scars. "

Reverse development is too complex in evolutionary terms

The plastic surgeon is by no means in favor of simply complying with every request for surgical removal of gynecomastia.

"It is important that, before starting therapy, a conscientious examination is carried out, that is, an endocrinologist, urologist, possibly also a pediatrician, should rule out diseases, then it is important to note that not every gynecomastia needs to be treated when the patient is it doesn’t bother you, or especially during puberty you can wait well, and the operation is then certainly reserved for the small part for which it either does not work, or for those who suffer considerably and isolate themselves socially. "

Finally back to evolution: One can ask oneself why the nipples in boys don't disappear again in the course of embryonic development. The anthropologist Carsten Niemitz:

"To rationalize an organ away again through a development process would be an enormous effort. And since they do not interfere, you can leave them there."