Noticeable changes in a person’s breast are almost always normal. As people age, their bodies grow and change. Women, in particular, are bound to experience breast-related changes at different points in their lives, especially during puberty and pregnancy. But while most breast changes are considered perfectly normal, some may indicate something more, such as breast cancer.
To clear out the possibility of any breast-related condition, here’s a brief guide to help you distinguish normal breast changes from those that are not. Read on.
Normal breast changes – Causes
Our breasts change as we go through different stages in our lives. Knowing what to expect from your breasts as you approach these normal life phases will help you prepare and avoid unnecessary panic and distress.
Breasts are composed of different types of tissues. As people grow older, such tissues may become less elastic, resulting in saggy breasts. The reduced production of estrogen in the body as people age also affects the size of the breasts. Generally, estrogen increases the size of the breasts as it stimulates the growth of breast tissue. Naturally, a decreased production of the said hormones will cause your breasts to lose their original volume.
Our breasts change significantly during pregnancy. They will become bigger and heavier as your body tries to keep up with the baby’s developmental needs. Increased estrogen production will also trigger the production of prolactin, a hormone responsible for breast enlargement and milk production. Your boobs will also feel tender and sore due to the surge of estrogen and progesterone.
- Menstrual cycle
Girls are bound to experience breast tenderness and swelling as they go through their menstrual cycle. These conditions are mainly due to the ebb and flow of hormones. Estrogen level rises during the initial period of the menstrual cycle and peak just before ovulation. This makes the boobs appear more buoyant. After ovulation, progesterone level starts to build up, making the breasts fuller and firmer.
- Weight Gain/Weight loss
Substantial changes in your weight also affect how your breasts look. As mentioned earlier, boobs are composed of different types of tissues. However, it is the fatty tissue that predominantly determines breast size. Naturally, as a person gains weight, she’ll gain more fatty tissues, resulting in larger breasts. On the other hand, losing body fat leads to reduced breast size. In some cases, when a person who is once chubby loses weight, the skin covering the boobs might have lost its elasticity, resulting in saggy breasts.
Breast changes – When should it cause you concern?
Although changes in breast size, shape, and appearance are typical in a woman’s life, this doesn’t mean that every noticeable change in your boobs is safe and normal. Some might also indicate underlying breast conditions. Among the common changes in your breasts that you need to keep a strict watch of are the following:
- Breast Lumps
Have you ever felt bulges or bumps in your boobs? Breast lumps develop due to varying reasons, and not all of them should cause you concern. Before or during your period, you may even feel lumps in your breasts due to the natural changes in your hormone levels. Such growths will eventually shrink once you’re monthly period is over.
However, there are also cases where lumps in your boobs could indicate something wrong. In the worst case, it could signal the presence of breast cancer. Cancerous lumps are also often hard to the touch, and the skin covering the growth may look red or pitted. If you notice a lump or a thickened area in your breasts that persists even after your period, it’s best to see a doctor for a quick checkup.
- Nipple Discharge
A milky discharge from your nipples is not uncommon. One may experience this as a natural consequence of pregnancy or during breastfeeding. Pregnant women may already notice milk leakage in their breasts during the early stage of their pregnancy, and such leakage may continue for up to three years. Nipples may also secrete fluid when one is stimulated.
But if the fluid comes only from one breast and is coupled with pain, lumps, or skin rashes, it’s best to contact a doctor as soon as possible. A cloudy or yellowish discharge often indicates possible infection, while a clear or bloody one may point to breast cancer.
- Breast Pain
Pain and discomfort in the breast require attention since they might indicate something’s wrong with your boobs. If you feel pain or tenderness in your breasts even after your period, the best response is to see a doctor. Breast pain accompanied by other symptoms, such as lumps and nipple discharge, may be a sign of infection or cancer.
- Changes in Breast Size or Shape
Although changes in your breast size and shape shouldn’t normally cause you concern, you shouldn’t ignore them at all. Thickening or swelling of a particular part of your breast could indicate breast cancer. Noticeable changes in the texture of your breast skin are also often a symptom of cancer. If the skin of your breasts looks red, flaky, or pitted like an orange, you should talk to a doctor right away. Nipples that are inverted or reversed inward should also be checked by a medical professional.
Get yourself checked today!
A checkup with a medical professional is still the best way to clear yourself of possible breast-related conditions. Early diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer are essential to ensure a higher rate of recovery.
You may visit us here at New Hope Medical Center to explore a holistic treatment plan for breast cancer. Our programs may include IV therapy, advanced immunotherapy, nutritional guidance and lectures, and more. Call us at 480-473-9808