7 Worries You’ve Had About Your Breasts That Are Totally Normal
© Pop Color Sports Bra (#58), Free People
Knockers. Breasts. Boobs. Whatever you call them, breast awareness is so important – according to Breast Cancer Care, someone in the UK is diagnosed with the disease every 10 minutes.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and, according to Cancer Research UK, 27% of cases are preventable by being breast more health aware and making lifestyle changes. With this in mind we've rounded up everything you need to know about looking after your breasts and keeping them healthy, from appearance to sexual health and breast cancer.
Always speak to your GP if you notice anything unusual or any changes in your breast(s).
IS SLEEPING ON BREASTS BAD FOR THEM?
“Your breasts are two different organs and each one reacts differently to hormones and develops its own amount of tissue and fat,” says cosmetic surgeon Dr Todd Malan. One culprit: sleeping face down, which puts unnecessary pressure on your chest. Snoozing on your side can also contribute to breast sagging, as gravity pulls your girls down, stretching ligaments and skin.
So, sleep on your back and wear a soft cup bra such as Belvia. Placing a pillow under your knees will stop you rolling over, which means your breasts stay pointing where you want – upwards.
IS IT NORMAL TO HAVE NO SEXUAL FEELING IN YOUR BREASTS?
Absolutely. In fact, 16 per cent of women say they get no sexual stimulation from their breastswhatsoever. But if you’re feeling hard done-by, you may just need a change of tactics. Ask your partner to focus on the flesh directly above the areola (the coloured skin around the nipple). “Studies have shown women feel more pleasurable sensations in this region” says Jaiya, author of Essential Tantra.
Get your partner to rub this top zone with an ice cube and then blow on it for head-to-toe chills. Or, they can use the tip of their tongue to lick circles around the area, slowly moving down to your nipple and areola. This should activate a tiny muscle just beneath the skin surface that flips on your headlights – brightening up your day no end.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR BREASTS SHAPE AND PREVENT SAGGING
In your 20s a lower fat-to-glandular tissue ratio keeps your boobs perky, while connective tissues, called Cooper’s ligaments, hold their shape. As you age, these ligaments stretch and tear and unfortunately, things start to go south. But you can minimise the damage with a good sports bra. “For the best support, replace your sports bra once or twice a year”, says Sweatshop’s Head Buyer Amanda Brasher.
The right fit is crucial, she adds. To check, jump up and down for ten seconds with the bra on the loosest catch. If you feel short of breath, it’s too tight. If your boobs feel like rocks in a bag, you need more support. Push-up bras can also help with droopage but sadly, the only permanent fix is a surgical lift.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH BREAST HAIR?
First, chill out. “About 40% of women have visible breast hair,” says cosmetic medicine specialist Dr Mitchell Chasin. As a rule, a sparse sprinkling is a result of DNA and your body’s ever-changing hormones (it’s more common in pregnancy), but if your chest has turned Teen Wolf, see your GP to check for conditions such as PCOS.
To get rid of hairs, tweezing, waxing and even laser all work, but avoid shaving as the hair will grow back longer and darker.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF PREGNANCY FOR BREASTS?
A study by University of Kentucky plastic surgeon Brian Rinker found sagging tended to increase with each pregnancy (sorry). Plus, your nipples and areola may darken, change size, appear more veiny and get pimple-like bumps, says obstetrician Dr JoAnn Pinkerton. And of course, you may get stertch marks.
SHOULD I USE BIO OIL FOR BREASTS' STRETCH MARKS?
You can ward off stretch marks by massaging your boobs every day using Bio-Oil (£14.99 for 125ml).
WHICH FACTORS CAN CUT YOUR BREAST CANCER RISK?
Light – both more and less of it, at the right times. Scientists found breast cancer rates were higher among women working night shifts who were, as a result, exposed to light at night. Even the glow from an alarm clock, laptop or a street lamp outside may curb your production of melatonin, a sleep hormone that delays the growth of cancerous cells, says oncologist Dr David Blask. So turn off or cover all lights in your bedroom and invest in blackout blinds.
Conversely, in the day get enough sun for your body to synthesise vitamin D, as it may be critical in regulating breast cell growth, says oncologist Dr Marisa Weiss, founder of Breastcancer.org. Studies show breast cancer is more common among women with low vitamin D levels. Aim to expose your hands and arms to the morning or late afternoon sun for 30 minutes for your daily dose. And since we live in sun-starved Britain, between October and March eat more D-rich foods such as eggs, oily fish and fortified milk.
* Always see a GP to check if you have any concerns.