Episode 13 of the Wine & Gyn podcast jumps to a new body part- your breasts! We are unpacking breast development, anatomy, changes and screening tools. This listen will give you a great idea to if your boobs are normal and what to do about finding something abnormal.
Breasts are made of fat, muscle, milk ducts and glands and fibrous tissue. Did you know you had so much going on in there? There is a common misconception that breasts should be the same size and shape and that’s just not true! We say breasts should be more like cousins and less like twins. It’s very common for one to be a bit larger, also.
The average breast size in the United States is 40 D. 20 years ago it was a 34 B…. just a fun fact for you to ponder- women are dealing with much more breast than ever before! Another fun and shocking fact might be that 6% of the population has a 3rd nipple that often has some accessory breast tissue with it some place on the chest or flank of a woman. This third nipple can lactate and also be more sensitive during your cycle.
Nipple hairs are always a fun discussion point, but did you know that most women only have them when their estrogen is the highest in their 20s and 30s, and they usually go away after that. On the podcast we shared a fun story about breastfeeding in public with nipple hairs. It’s a bit personal and extremely hilarious.
We dive into the best way to support your “girls”- and what kinds of bras are best for different types and sizes of breasts. In general, underwire or not is not a problem like many of us may have heard before. The band of the bra is the most important factor, not the straps! Although in general, the larger the breasts, the wider both the band and the strap should be. Most women are definitely wearing thr wrong size bra. Even Tiffany shares that she went 31 years of her life before getting a properly fitting bra. Our best advice for this is go get a professional fitting and make an investment in a properly fitting bra.
Breast self-exams are the best way to screen your boobs for lumps or structural changes. Monthly is the recommended frequency. The reason you feeling your own breasts is the gold standard for screening is because you know your breasts best and when you do it regularly you are most likely to notice changes and be most sensitive to a new thing under the tips of your own fingers. We recommend clinical breast exams from your care provider as well- midwives are skilled and experienced at doing these exams within a framework of respect and an emphasis on education.
To do a self-breast exam, stand in front of the mirror and make a visual inspection. Nitice the symmetry, the skin, the underside of the breasts that may go unnoticed. Place your hands on your hips and flex your chest muscles by pushing your hands in on your hips. Raise your arms above your head and notice the way they move and lift.
Next, lay down on a comfortable flat surface- like your bed- and with one hand behind your head, feel your breast with the opposite (free) hand. Using the pads of your fingers, systematically touch in a circular motion from the center of your breast near the nipple and work around or up and down to cover your entire breast. First press gently to feel whats just under the skin, then press a bit firmly down into the tissue, and last press even more firmly trying to feel the bones and rib cage under your breast tissue. These three layers are palpated from one part of your breast to the other. Remember that many women have breast tissue up in their armpit and around their rib cage- it’s important to examine all of it. Repeat on the other side.
You are looking for anything different than the month before. Try your best to do at the same time each month so that any hormonal shift that effect your breasts are generally the same each exam. Feel for nodules, lumps, bumps and masses that are new and non-symmetrical. Often a concerning mass is not movable, firm and feels anchored somewhere in the chest wall. Another concerning thing to discover is dimpling, puckering or orange peel looking skin. Any new discharge from your nipple when you aren’t breastfeeding is something to get checked out as well.
One passionate interest we have become interested in lately is Breast Implant Illness. We know many ladies who have noticed a change in their health since getting implants that included a long list of unexplained symptoms that lead them to investigating the cause. Once having their implants removed, they recovered almost immediately. If you think this might be something you should look into for yourself, do a bit of research and connect with us for resources and referrals if you need them.
From the pubescent excitement of getting breast buds, through enjoying them sexually, to appreciating them while breastfeeding, and then into the wise years of letting your breasts rest (literally), there are so many changes this part of our bodies go through- and for good reason! Caring well for these 2 little friends will make the most of having them along for the lifelong journey!