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Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed®) [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; 2006-.

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Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed®) [Internet].

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Nipple Piercing

Last Revision: June 21, 2021.

Estimated reading time: 1 minute

Drug Levels and Effects

Summary of Use during Lactation

Although controlled studies have not been performed, piercing of the nipples seems to not interfere with lactation in most cases,[1,2] although poor latching, and milk leakage from the infant's mouth have been reported.[3] Some breast jewelry may pierce the areola as well as the nipple. Reversible hyperprolactinemia and galactorrhea occurred in two individuals who developed infections of the nipple and mastitis. Infections are estimated to occur after 10% to 20% of nipple piercings. Healing time after nipple piercing is 6 to 12 months, and up to a year longer if infection or trauma occur. Occasionally, mastitis occurs after piercing.[4] A theoretical concern is aspiration of the nipple jewelry by the nursing infant and injury of the infant's mouth and gums. Although these complications apparently have not been reported, nipple jewelry should be removed before nursing,[3,5,6] and preferably during the entire duration of breastfeeding.[7]

Effects in Breastfed Infants

Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.

Effects on Lactation and Breastmilk

Nipple piercing has caused mastitis in nursing and nonnursing women and at least one man.[3,6,8,9] In some of these patients, hyperprolactinemia and galactorrhea resulted. After removal of the jewelry and treatment of mastitis, hyperprolactinemia and galactorrhea subsided.[8,9] However, in a study of 11 individuals who had pierced nipples for an average of 4 years (range 2.5 to 12 years) without mastitis, serum prolactin values were in the normal range.[10] Nipple piercing has also been associated with decreased lactation in nursing mothers caused by duct obstruction and milk leakage through the piercing tract.[1,3]


Garbin CP, Deacon JP, Rowan MK, et al. Association of nipple piercing with abnormal milk production and breastfeeding. JAMA. 2009;301:2550–1. [PubMed: 19549971]
Armstrong ML, Caliendo C, Roberts AE. Pregnancy, lactation and nipple piercings. AWHONN Lifelines. 2006;10:212–7. [PubMed: 16792708]
Holbrook J, Minocha J, Laumann A. Body piercing: complications and prevention of health risks. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2012;13:1–17. [PubMed: 22175301]
Lee B, Vangipuram R, Petersen E, et al. Complications associated with intimate body piercings. Dermatol Online J. 2018;24:2. [PubMed: 30261561]
Kluger N. Body art and pregnancy. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2010;153:3–7. [PubMed: 20557995]
Martin J. Is nipple piercing compatible with breastfeeding? J Hum Lact. 2004;20:319–21. [PubMed: 15296586]
Roche-Paull R. Body modifications and breastfeeding: What you need to know. J Hum Lact. 2015;31:552–3. [PubMed: 26185213]
Modest GA, Fangman JJ. Nipple piercing and hyperprolactinemia. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:1626–7. [PubMed: 12432057]
Demirtas Y, Sariguney Y, Cukurluoglu O, et al. Nipple piercing: It is wiser to avoid in patients with hyperprolactinemia. Dermatol Surg. 2004;30:1184. [PubMed: 15274719]
Sun GE, Pantalone KM, Gupta M, et al. Is chronic nipple piercing associated with hyperprolactinemia? Pituitary. 2013;16:351–3. [PubMed: 22965248]

Substance Identification

Substance Name

Nipple Piercing

Drug Class

Breast Feeding


Body Modification, Non-Therapeutic

Disclaimer: Information presented in this database is not meant as a substitute for professional judgment. You should consult your healthcare provider for breastfeeding advice related to your particular situation. The U.S. government does not warrant or assume any liability or responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information on this Site.

Copyright Notice

Attribution Statement: LactMed is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Bookshelf ID: NBK500564PMID: 29999624


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