Men can’t nurse babies so why do they come equipped with the instruments of nursing? The answer lies in the Y Chromosome.
Out of all the existential mind bending questions that we spend our lives looking answers for, strangely enough, why do men have nipples? Bothers us the most.
Here is an answer that will satiate your thirst of curiosity.
All humans begin life in the womb as females. If no Y chromosome is present in the foetus, then the embryo will continue to develop as and be born as a female. If there is a Y chromosome present in the embryo, the male sex hormone testosterone restricts the full development of breasts to just nipples, the labia fuse to become the scrotum and clitoris develops fully to become a pen*s. If the Y chromosome prevails in producing a male, this is not done without a fight. Male babies are weaker as a result than female ones, accounting for the slightly higher death rate in male babies.
Humans are mammals, which means they are warm-blooded, hairy vertebrates that breathe air and produce milk for babies. Up until genes on the Y-chromosome kick in after week 4 in development, however, male and female embryos develop identically. The primary formation of mammary glands and tissues are highly conserved across mammalian species and begin to form early in development, before the gender-specific processes take place.
The embryo’s gonad appears around week 4 of development and is considered bipotential or indifferent, meaning that gender is not playing a role in development at that point. This will continue for a few more weeks. During week 8, germ cells start to undergo sex determination. Males will then secrete factors that block the development of female ducts and structures. Once the male embryo produces testosterone, the hormone can influence other sex-specific traits around the body.
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