Your breasts will change throughout your life, because of all the hormonal changes in your body. So don't be alarmed by them.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on March 9, 2021. It has since been updated.
If there was a part of the female body that showed immense diversity, it would be the breasts. Even women of the same age wouldn't have similar breasts since they come in different sizes, shapes, and colors. Even both your boobs wouldn't be the same size. So, if you think that your breasts are unlike your friend's (or unlike the perfect photoshopped ones that you see online or in magazines) and you find your own to be different, don't worry. There are many things that might seem "odd" but are completely normal. They probably just manifest differently for everyone.
Here are all the things that are considered normal when it comes to breasts so that you don't panic unnecessarily:
Just like the rest of your body, your breasts too will skin that has color variation, Dr. Jaime Lewis, medical director for Breast Surgical Services at UC Health in Cincinnati and assistant professor of surgery at UC College of Medicine, told SELF. The skin tone can change because of hormones, sun exposure, and medicines. Mostly, the skin discolorations don't indicate anything concerning. However, if the variation in color refuses to go away, you could ask your doctor about it.
“It’s probably more likely to be a skin problem than an actual breast problem, but it doesn’t hurt to have it checked out,” Dr. Therese Bartholomew Bevers, a professor of clinical cancer prevention and medical director of the Cancer Prevention Center and prevention outreach programs at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, told SELF.
You could experience nipple discharge during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Any fluid that comes out of your nipples can be considered in this. The discharge can sometimes continue for up to two years after you stop nursing and that's normal, according to WebMD. There will also be some milky-white leakage before menopause because of hormones. These shouldn't be of concern. However, if you see bloody, greenish, or clear discharge, or if the discharge is only from one breast, you should see your doctor. If the discharge happens without prodding, it could indicate an infection, a cyst, or cancer.
The multiple hormonal changes in a woman's body through puberty, pregnancy, menopause, and menstruation can lead to sore breasts. You could feel anything between tingling to an ache when the breasts develop, or before periods. Even during pregnancy and menopause, you could feel your breasts to be sensitive to touch. Even a badly fitted bra can cause pain and discomfort, according to BreastCancer.org.uk. If you have recently lost or gained weight, you should get yourself fitted again.
If you see lumps in your breasts, don't immediately assume it is cancer. More than 80% of breast lumps are not cancer, according to WebMD. It is a concern when you see large lumps in your armpit or if it doesn't go away after six weeks.
Lumps tend to show up when you are menstruating or are close to menopause. The lumps can vary in size, big or small, and can be hard or soft to touch. Mostly, they are harmless cysts filled with fluid. If you seek a doctor's opinion, they would recommend a mammogram and other tests.
Stretch marks are extremely common on breasts and are normal just like they appear on any other part of your body. It could happen when you quickly gain weight such as during pregnancy. It is common among girls going through puberty as well. If you are worrying about it, you don't need to because almost every woman would have it. It could appear as pink, red, brown, or white lines on your skin that is raised or bumpy, according to Planned Parenthood.
“It’s quite common for breasts to be slightly different sizes,” Dr. Jennifer Wider, tells SELF. “Most people wouldn't notice the difference, but it occurs in more than half of all women," she added.
The change occurs mostly when the breasts are first developing. It is possible that you gain or lose more in size in one boob than the other. However, if you suddenly find that one is larger than the other, consult your doctor. A sudden change in the sizes could indicate breast cancer as a large mass can make one breast look bigger.
Cover image source: Getty ImagesDisclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.