From size to cysts, here’s everything you’ll want to know about keeping your breasts in tip-top condition!
Breasts, boobs, jugs, chesticles, the twins, melons, marshmallows, Mickey and Minnie ― whatever your pet name for them, everyone is born with at least two breasts. And whether for aesthetic or practical purposes, most of us would not be able to imagine life without them. If you plan to have a baby, your breasts will come in very handy as they help provide your little one with nutritious breastmilk.
Boobs come in different shapes and sizes, and no one breast is exactly the same as the other, but ultimately, they all perform the same function. There’s no denying that they accomplish important tasks, but have you ever wondered what your bust is made of, or how they can vary in appearance from one stage of your life to the next?
Well, here are facts you should know about your twin peaks!
1. They aren’t just made up of fat
Contrary to what many people believe, your breasts comprise more than just fat tissues. “Breasts are made up of fat, milk glands and ducts, and fibrous connective tissues called Cooper’s Ligaments, which help provide structural support,” explains general surgeon Dr Esther Chuwa, a breast consultant. However, this does not mean that if you have smaller boobs, you will produce less breastmilk. The size of your breasts does not determine how much milk you make!
Skinny people might not necessarily be flat-chested, while chubbier women might also not be necessarily well-endowed.
2. One is most probably bigger than the other
Just like eyebrows, think of your boobs as sisters and not twins. Most women will have uneven ones. “In most women, the left breast is usually slightly larger than the right. Very few women are perfectly symmetrical. A slight difference in size of up to 15 to 20 per cent between the right and left breast is considered normal,” says Dr Chuwa. However, if you notice that there is a sudden change in your breast size after puberty, make sure to consult your breast specialist as this might signal more serious problems such as growths, cancer and inflammation.
3. How much breastmilk you produce isn’t determined by your bust size
Breastmilk production is controlled by hormones such as oxytocin and prolactin, which is released when your baby nurses. So, the more you breastfeed, the more milk your body makes to meet the demand. If you have trouble breastfeeding, talk to a lactation consultant!
4. Various factors can affect your cup size
Skinny people might not necessarily be flat-chested, while chubbier women might also not be necessarily well-endowed. Pregnancy and menopause can affect your breast size as well. Your cup size, which is dependent on many factors such as genetics and your body frame, also changes throughout your life. “This usually happens if the woman suddenly loses a lot of weight, which can result in her going down one cup size (less commonly two cup sizes). Women who stop breastfeeding after a few months might also experience a significant reduction in breast size as this is when the milk glands all shrink and atrophy when the lactation stimulus is removed,” Dr Tan Yah Yuen, a breast surgeon, explains.
5. How fast your boobs sag isn’t just based on cup size
Yes, bigger breasts might have a tendency to sag more because of their weight and Earth’s pesky gravity. States Dr Tan, “Breasts sag as a person grows older due to gravity and the weight of your breasts. Larger, heavier breasts without adequate bra support over time will tend to sag more.” However, other (lifestyle) factors might affect how perky your boobs are, such as if you go on a crash diet. In fact, small-chested women who smoke might find their boobies sagging faster than their big-chested friends! Explains breast surgeon Dr Bertha Woon, “Smoking also destroys elastin and indirectly causes breasts to droop and sag.”
6. It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows when you’re buxom
If you have a smaller chest compared to your other friends, you might feel envious when you spot someone with a Sofia Vergara silhouette. However, bigger might not necessarily mean better in this situation. Dr Woon states that big boobs might cause back, neck and shoulder aches, inframammary rashes (rash below the breasts) and fungal infections, as well as difficulty when exercising because the breasts get in the way. Dr Chuwa adds that it might affect your psychological health, too, as women with large breasts start off as self-conscious teens with low self-esteem and a negative body image. These can lead to depression and stress later in life.
7. It’s vital to support your boobs properly
Make sure you do so, especially when you are doing high-impact exercises such as jogging or jumping. “When a woman runs, jumps or does any vigorous exercise, her breasts are like ‘free weights’ being tugged in all directions. Without a properly fitted sports bra, breasts move too freely and this further stretches the Cooper's ligaments, resulting in breast pain,” Dr Chuwa says. That said, you’d want to ditch the bra every once in a while to unfetter your lady lumps and let them breathe! Or if you need the support while you sleep, wear a soft cotton bra that’s comfortable.
Big boobs might cause back, neck and shoulder aches, inframammary rashes (rash below the breasts) and fungal infections, as well as difficulty in exercising because your breasts get in the way.
8. It’s best to get a mammograms after your period
Women aged 40 and above should go for a mammogram once every year, while those 50 years and above should be screened once every two years, states Dr Woon. But do you know the best time to get a mammogram? Your breasts will be at their minimum volume and least sensitive about five to seven days after the onset of your period, which makes the timing ideal, Dr Chuwa explains. You certainly don’t want to have your sore and tender globes squeezed within an inch of their lives during your period. Ouch!
9. You need to do a breast self-examination (BSE) every month
Since you know your own body best, it’s important to spot any breast changes or lumps yourself. Self-examination should be done once a month after your period. “Stand in front of a mirror and put your arms by your side to look for any differences, asymmetry or skin change. Repeat this with your arms raised. You can also lie down and use the opposite hand to press down and feel the breast and armpit for any lumps or nipple discharge,” Dr Tan advises. Don’t panic if you notice any lumps though. “The most common harmless lumps in the breasts would be cysts, fibrocystic change and fibroadenomas, which are caused by hormonal effects.”
10. Some women can achieve orgasm through their nipples
In some women, stimulating the nipples achieves the same effect as clitoral stimulation. So, it’s possible to get an orgasm through your nipples (also known as nipplegasm)! “Nipple stimulation has been reported to activate the same region of the brain as clitoral, vaginal and cervical stimulation. Hence, a woman’s brain seems to process nipple and genital stimulation in the same way. Some women may be sufficiently aroused, leading to orgasm,” notes Dr Chuwa.
11. Extra nipples might seem weird, but they are usually not dangerous
Instead of the usual pair, some people are born with extra nipples on their bodies! Supernumerary or accessory nipples occur in approximately one in 8,000 people. “They are minor congenital anomalies that are found along the embryonic milk lines, and can appear in isolation or be associated with breast tissue,” Dr Woon explains. Although harmless, supernumerary nipples can be annoying as they can function like a normal nipple. “When a supernumerary nipple is associated with breast tissue, that tissue can swell when a woman is pregnant or lactating, and even produce milk,” Dr Woon adds. She notes that usually no treatment is necessary unless the extra nipple causes trouble such as bleeding, ulcers and so on. In such cases, it will be removed.
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