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If you’ve ever seen the movie Meet the Parents (1999), you no doubt remember that cringe-worthy dinner table dialog between Ben Stiller and his future father-in-law Robert De Niro. If you’re like many people, you’ve probably wondered why men have nipples in the first place. Why are they even there? And are they really as pointless as they seem?

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1. Men develop nipples in utero

If you want to know why both men and women have nipples, you have to go all the way back to the first few weeks after conception. Nipple development starts about one week before sexual differentiation occurs in embryos. Once the hormone testosterone and the Y chromosome in a male embryo trigger the growth of a penis and testicles, the nipples have already developed, and men are stuck with them for life.

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