Its main function is to lubricate and keep germs away from the breasts.
What are the Montgomery glands?
Montgomery glands or tubercles are sebaceous (oil) glands that appear as small bumps around the dark area of the nipple. Studies have found that between 30 and 50 percent of pregnant women notice Montgomery glands.
If you are breastfeeding, the secretion of these glands can prevent your breast milk from becoming contaminated before your baby ingests it.
You can identify Montgomery’s tubercles or glands by looking for small raised bumps on the areola. The areola is the dark area around the nipple. They can also appear on the nipple itself. They usually look like goose bumps.
The size and number of tubers vary for each person. Pregnant women may notice between two and 28 glands per nipple, or more.
Changes in hormones are often the cause of Montgomery’s tubercles enlarging around the nipple, especially:
- During pregnancy.
- Around puberty.
- Around a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Other common causes include:
- Stress .
- Hormonal imbalances
- Breast cancer
- Changes in the physical body, such as weight gain or loss.
- Nipple stimulation.
- Tight clothing or bras.
Breast changes are often a symptom of early pregnancy . Montgomery’s tubercles or glands around the nipples can be one of the first symptoms of pregnancy. They can be noticeable even before your period is missed.
Not all women who experience Montgomery’s glands are pregnant. If you notice these lumps and have other pregnancy symptoms, you should take a home pregnancy test. If the test is positive, your doctor’s office can confirm your pregnancy.
Other early pregnancy symptoms can include:
- Tender or enlarged breasts.
- Implantation bleeding.
- Morning sickness.
- Humor changes.
- Frequent urination
Later in pregnancy, you may notice increased nipple tubercles as your body prepares for breastfeeding.
Your nipples may become darker and larger as your pregnancy progresses. This is completely normal and should not be a cause for concern.
Montgomery tubers allow a smooth and lubricated lactation. These glands secrete an antibacterial oil. This oil serves an important purpose in moisturizing and protecting the nipples during breastfeeding.
For this reason, it is important that breastfeeding moms do not wash their nipples with soap. Also avoid any disinfectant or other substance that can dry out or damage the area around your nipples. Instead, just rinse your breasts with water during your daily shower.
If you notice that it is drying or cracking, apply a few drops of healing lanolin. Avoid non-breathable plastic lining on bra pads or your nursing bra.
Signs of infection
Montgomery tubers can become blocked, inflamed, or infected. Watch for painful redness or swelling around the nipple area. See your doctor if you notice these or other unusual changes.
Tell your doctor if you experience itching or a rash, as these may be symptoms of a yeast infection. If you are discharged and are not breastfeeding, make an appointment with your doctor. See your doctor right away if you notice blood or pus.
In rare cases, changes in appearance around the nipple area can be a symptom of breast cancer. Notify your doctor immediately if you notice any other symptoms of breast cancer, including:
- Hard lump in your chest.
- Dimples, or an “orange peel texture,” on the surface of your chest.
- Changes in the shape or size of your nipple.
- Enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit.
- Involuntary weight loss
- Changes to the shape or size of a breast.
- Discharge from your nipple.
Montgomery glands are generally normal and mean that your breasts are working as they should. The tubers will usually shrink or disappear completely after pregnancy and breastfeeding.
If you are not pregnant or breastfeeding and want the tubers or glands to be removed, your doctor may recommend surgery. This is a cosmetic option, and may be recommended if they cause pain or inflammation.
Surgical removal of Montgomery’s tubercles involves your doctor making an excision (removal of the lumps) around the areola. This is an outpatient procedure that takes about 30 minutes.
Generally, hospitalization is not required. You will likely notice scars after the procedure. Work with your doctor to determine if this is the best option for you.
If you want to reduce the size of Montgomery glands or tubers at home and you are not pregnant or breastfeeding, you can try the following home remedies:
- Press a towel that has been soaked in warm water over your nipples for about 20 minutes each night.
- Apply aloe vera gel, shea butter, or cocoa butter around the nipples.
- Increase your water and reduce your sugar intake.
- Eat a healthy diet and cut back on sugar and salt to reduce blocking conditions that can increase the size of tubers.
Most of the time, there is nothing special you need to do if you notice Montgomery glands. To keep the area free from infection and inflammation:
- Keep your nipples clean. During pregnancy and lactation, wash your breasts daily with lukewarm water. If you are not breastfeeding, it is generally safe to use a mild cleanser every day.
- Avoid oils and other lubricants.
- Do not try to explode the tubers, as this can be dangerous.
- Wear a clean, comfortable bra every day.
If the appearance of the tubers bothers you and you are not pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about options to surgically remove them. This can affect your ability to breastfeed later.
Montgomery’s tubercles or glands are a normal part of breast function. Usually there is nothing to worry about. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is likely that it will benefit you and your baby. The tubers shouldn’t be painful, in fact, you probably won’t even notice them most of the time.
See your doctor if you notice any signs or symptoms or redness, swelling, or bleeding around the nipples. Also inform your doctor about any pain you may experience.