Recently after watching a movie with the family, I wondered if something one of the characters said could actually be true. According to the character in the movie, you can milk anything with nipples. The role of nipples on the male body is something of a mystery. Women have nipples for breastfeeding purposes, but could men have held that station in life not so long ago? According to some scientists, authors have noted men breastfeeding for centuries and clinically speaking, men today could breastfeed as well.
Hormones and Equipment
Men don't have the perfect equipment for breastfeeding, but they do have everything an infant needs apart from hormone levels high enough to spark milk production. Nipple stimulation does spark prolactin production in both men and women, but women have much more making milk production easier and more efficient. With time, however, it is clinically conceivable for a man to produce more prolactin with nipple stimulation and with all the parts, including milk ducts and mammary tissue, milk production could be sparked, but would enough milk be produced to feed an infant?
In 2002, a man in Sri Lanka claimed he found he was able to breastfeed his daughter after his wife died. He was left in a situation that required adaptation, but this claim was not studied so science has no idea if there was an excess of prolactin already in the man's body or if his body was in starvation mode. After World War II, reports of men producing breast milk popped upon in POW populations. The men had been starved to the point that hormones starting building up in the body, including prolactin, so milk production began naturally.
Some experts claim male nipples will fade away, eventually, due to lack of use, but others think the opposite may happen. If men and women are striving for equality and more women are working with men staying home to care for the kids, men may soon be in a place where having those nipples and breastfeeding baby is part of their everyday routine.