Breasts
An Owner’s Manual -
Real Questions from Teen Readers.

Q. How big will my breasts get and what is normal?

A. There is no 'real' answer to this question, since we all come in different sizes. Some of us are tall and some short. Similarly, some girls have large, medium, or small breasts. However, many girls are unhappy because they think their breasts are too small or too large.

Attitudes about breast size are often influenced by fashion. From a health perspective, there is no ideal breast size. Breast size bears no relationship to breast cancer or ability to nurse a baby. There are surgical procedures available to increase or decrease the size of breasts. These are major operations and they should not be entered into without considerable thought and extensive information, as they have possible serious drawbacks and complications. Padded bras are safer alternatives for those who want their breasts to appear larger. There are also 'breast enhancers' that a lot of people on TV or in movies use now instead of surgery. They are available at bra stores and on the net. They look very real, BTW.

Also, remember that you have time on your side as breasts continue to grow, especially during puberty and pregnancy. Improving nutrition may also contribute to increased too.


Q. If your mother and sisters have small breasts will you have small ones too?

A. There is some genetic component to breast size. However, there are some health professionals that argue about this. It is not uncommon within one family to see sisters or mother and daughters with very different breast sizes.


Q. Are breasts just fat tissue? What I can do to make my breasts bigger?

A. Breasts are made up of fat and fibrous tissue with glands that enlarge during pregnancy to allow for breast feeding (see diagram below). When a women gains weight, her breasts usually get bigger. Exercise can enlarge the 'look' of the breasts, not by adding fat to breast tissue, but by enlarging the muscles beneath the breasts. This sometimes can cause breast tissue loss in some women because when they workout they lose fatty tissue. You know your body and how it responds to weight gain and loss after a while.


(Courtesy of Harper and Row Publishers)

There are no other effective non-surgical alternatives for breast enlargement, there are no known 'herbs' or supplements that health care providers will endorse for breast size increase. Surgical breast enlargement involves placing an artificial liquid (saltwater or silicone) containing device into the space between the breast tissue and the underlying muscle through a small incision under the nipple or in the armpit. If that is something you are interested in, talk to your parents and give it a lot of thought.

FYI: More than 150,000 women had breast augmentation surgery last year; an all-time high. At the same time, the number of teenagers who choose breast implants has more than doubled in the last two years. Do guys really care? It depends on the guy, but if he's really into you he shouldn't care about your breast size.


Q. One of my breasts is a bit larger than the other, is this normal? What are these bumps around my nipples?

A.
A woman’s breasts are rarely symmetrical. One breast is usually slightly larger or smaller, higher or lower, or even shaped differently than the other. The size and characteristics of the nipple also vary greater from woman to woman. In some women, the nipples are constantly erect. In others, they will only become erect when stimulated by cold or touch. Some women also have inverted (turned in) nipples. Inverted nipples are not a cause for concern unless the condition is a new change.

There are hair follicles around the nipple, so hair on the breast is not uncommon. A nipple can be flat, round, or cylindrical in shape. The color of the nipple is determined by the thinness and pigmentation of its skin. The nipple and areola (the pigmented area surrounding the nipple) contain specialized muscle fibers that respond to stimulation to make the nipple erect. Within the areola the Montgomery’s gland is contained. These glands may appear as tiny, raised bumps on the surface of the areola. These bumps are normal. The Montgomery’s gland helps lubricate the areola. When the nipple is stimulated, the muscle fibers will contract, the areola will pucker, and the nipples become hard. (See the above image for reference)

Breast shape and appearance undergo a number of changes as a woman ages. In young women, the breast skin stretches and expands as the breasts grow, creating a rounded appearance. Young women tend to have denser breasts (more glandular tissue) than older women.

The size and shape of women’s breasts varies considerably. Some women have a large amount of breast tissue, and so they have large breasts. Other women have less tissue with little breast fat.

Factors that may influence your breast size include:
 Family history
 Age
 Weight loss or gain
 History of pregnancies and breast feeding
 Thickness and elasticity of the breast skin -- if
you have fair skin, you most likely have "thin skin".
 Degree of hormonal influences on the breast (particularly estrogen and progesterone). Like when your breasts become larger when you have your period or if you take the pill or hormone replacement therapy.
 Menopause

It is important for women to become familiar with the normal anatomy and physiology (function) of their breasts so that they can recognize early signs of possible abnormalities.

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Recommended Reading

If you have fibrocystic breasts or breast pain, read this

See Puberty for more on that topic. For the growth charts there see:

The Stages of Development of Puberty in Girls

The Stages of Development of Puberty in Boys

Please read about breast cancer and breast cancer screening.
It can save your life or your mother's life or someone else's.

Learn how to do a Breast Self-exam

Helping Someone Diagnosed With Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer and What You Eat

Risks of Breast Cancer and Second Hand Smoke

For more on your GYN health see GYN Stuff

For honest answers about your sexual health visit:


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