We all know both sexes have breasts but female breasts are a huge deal. Women and their breasts go through a lot especially as they age. This article will help create breast awareness based on breast development, normal breast changes as we age & the reasons behind that, taking care of them so they stay healthy and other information on the pains they go through.
WHAT ARE BREASTS?
This reminds me of back in the school days of biology when we learned about the mammary glands. Female breasts are made of fatty tissues, fibrous/connective tissue and the milk-producing glands called glandular tissue. The glandular tissues include breast lobes and breast ducts.
▪breast lobes are where the milk is produced
▪breast ducts are thin tubes that carry milk to the nipples. Breast cancer can form in these lobes and ducts.
▪the fatty tissues determine the size of the breast
▪flexible connective tissue called the ligaments hold the breast tissues in place giving it its shape.
Women’s breasts differ in shape, size, volume and tissue density. Their size and volume can fluctuate according to hormonal changes. The male’s and female’s breast structure is almost similar but men breast have no specialised milk-producing lobules for obvious reasons. The breast tissues develop for both males and females in the foetus during pregnancy, then playing a vital development role for females from there into puberty, during menstruations or during childbearing times then lastly menopause.
On the outside of the breast, we have part of the skin that is circular and darker coloured or pigmented called the areola. The areola provides lubrication to the nipple for nursing, protects nipples from germs and it allows it to be firm during stimulation. Those bumps on your areola are called Montgomery tubercles/glands and they are the oil glands that provide lubrication and prevents infection. On the center of the areola is the nipple, the nipple has nerve endings that are sensitive to touch and they can enhance sexual arousal to both males and females. There are no muscles in the breast only breast tissues mentioned, the blood and lymph vessels.
DIFFERENT BREAST STAGES
During birth, the child breast system is already formed but this is the stage where breast growth and changes begin. It is where the difference between males and females development starts. All the developments are now determined by the hormones.
Physical changes now start to show with breast enlargement. This happens now because in the ovaries the hormone oestrogen is produced and released causing the duct system to grow and the fatty tissues start to build up. Breast growth varies and the rate at which they grow varies for different girls.
Menstruations and ovulation
The duct system continues to grow and the glandular tissues mature. Many women experience changes in their breasts during menstruation whereby you hear some say that’s their first sign that they will soon get their periods. They mostly complain of them being bigger or swollen, feeling heavier or painful. The oestrogen and the progesterone are the two hormones responsible for all the changes in the breast during this period.
The breast feels lumpy because the glandular tissue starts to enlarge as a way of getting ready for a possible pregnancy. Oestrogen will stimulate milk ducts growth leading to ovulation and during the second part the progesterone takes over to form secretory glands. This is the main reason why the physical breast examination is not recommended during your cycle because there is an increase in lumps that don’t necessarily mean cancer. When the menstruation cycle ends the breast will go back to normal.
The primary function of the breast is to produce milk for baby feeding but breasts have been made a feminine symbol and beauty symbol. Now it has been escalated to more of a sex symbol that women are even greatly abused for breastfeeding in public. During pregnancy, growth becomes much more even women with smaller breasts can have a much larger size. The breast size does not determine the amount of milk produced whereby smaller might produce much more than larger sizes.
Lactation occurs and this is the process whereby breasts are getting ready to produce milk. Changes occur like the size, soreness or areolae starts to increase in size and the colour darkens. Nipples and breasts may feel sensitive before you realise you’re pregnant. Nipples start to stick out, you might see veins or even start to leak but for some, they will only leak if you press it. That is the normal pregnancy leak not a sign of cancer. In time your normal bras will start feeling uncomfortable to a point of forcing you to start shopping for maternity ones.
The things girls have to go through, phew!!!! Menopause is where oestrogen production decreases and it affects the breast. Recall how the article already explained how oestrogen production plays a role in our breasts? Breast may start to sag because lack oestrogen will cause decrease in size. Glandular tissues will start to shrink because their main purpose era is now gone. During perimenopause, pain or soreness may be experienced or even larger size. You might start feeling more lumps but the important thing is to check with your doctor if it is normal ageing lumps.
It is important to understand the normal breast development in order to recognise any abnormalities early. Remember for different women comes different sizes, shapes and different ages of new developments. There is no ideal size or shape, the important thing is to keep your twins healthy by wearing fitting bras, exercising, doing physical examinations and mammograms.
**YOU ARE NOT ABOUT YOUR BREAST AND BE WORRIED IF YOU WORK ON YOUR BREAST TO BE BIGGER THAN THEIR HEALTH AND YOUR LIFE GOALS**