Breasts can change many times and in many ways over a woman’s lifetime, and even within a given month. Your breasts may nourish children, provide sexual pleasure, and form part of your identity. Getting to know how your breasts normally feel and look is the first step towards promoting good breast health.
What are “normal” breasts?
Breasts, like women’s bodies, come in all shapes and sizes. Their tissue is varied, they change as you age, and the left one may not look the same as the right. One breast may grow faster or larger than the other. How your breasts feel and look can be affected by many things, including your menstrual cycle, pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause, nutrition and aging. Some women experience a natural growth and fluid retention during the menstrual cycle that may be painful. With time, breasts tend to sag a bit more, especially after milestone changes in hormones, such as breastfeeding and menopause.
Breasts make women mammals, and it is for that reason that the glands that make up the breast are called mammary glands. These glands produce milk for breastfeeding and are also an important part of sexual life.
It’s often difficult for women to recognize what “normal” breasts are, with strong social pressures to favour some types of breasts over others. It’s helpful to get to know what “normal” is to you by feeling your breasts or looking in a mirror. Some women take advantage of the time they’re in the bath or shower to notice changes in their breasts.