Our friends at YourTango chronicle in what ways our boobs age and how to cope as we grow older.
As if you didn’t already have enough to worry about.
I have a confession to make. I have never been happy with the way my boobs look. Ever. (OK, so maybe a woman over the age of puberty being displeased with some aspect of her body isn’t exactly news, but stick with me here . . . )
My breasts have gone through drastic changes. One day I was your typical flat-chested pre-teen, then in high school, I finally got my boobs in but barely filled a B cup.
The only time in my life during which I was in love with how my breasts looked was during my pregnancies. Overnight, my boobs grew to gargantuan proportions, the skin stretched to rein them in — of course, the rest of me filled in right along with them, and for a few glorious months, my breasts were absolutely perfect.
And here’s the irony of all ironies. As the women around me have aged as well, and many of them have had babies of their own, the discrepancies on the cleavage playing field have leveled out.
When I took my bra off in front my husband pre-motherhood, I was terribly self-conscious and worried that he would take one look at my small boobs and run for the fields — or for a woman with bigger and better ta-tas.
When I take my bra off now, I know my spouse has likely seen a few other women’s bare breasts and has seen their breasts change with time and/or babies, and I know mine really aren’t all that bad as far as his current comparative memories go. So it’s all good and fair!
Listen, change is a part of life, and no part of the body understands this reality more than a woman’s breasts. We’re flat, then we’re not. We’re full, then we’re saggy. Some women buy bigger boobs, while others choose to have a little less.
We know men love them, no matter their shape and size. Regardless of your gender, or experience, there’s no denying boobs sure are interesting.
Our breasts share our journey through life. They embody not only what it means to be a woman, but what it also means to learn self-acceptance. As we age, they change due to factors like diet, stage of life, and genetics. The most dramatic changes in boobs often occur during our 40’s when our bodies begin to produce less estrogen and enter pre-menopause, then menopause.
Here are 6 things that happen to your breasts change as you age:
1. They become less dense.
The older a woman becomes the less dense her breast tissue remains. Density change is most often seen after a woman gives birth, and with each subsequent pregnancy, the density of the breast tissue can lessen.
According to Susan G. Komen’s article, What You Need to Know About Breast Density, density has little to do with how firm a woman’s breasts feel. In fact, the only way to determine the measure of density in a woman’s breasts is through a mammogram.
It’s important to know the density factor of your breasts as you age because the higher the density, the greater the risk for breast cancer.
2. They develop all kinds of lumps and bumps.
Most often a lump or a bump in a breast is normal. In fact, both teens and older women may notice lumps and bumps in various areas of their breasts. These fibroids may be tender to the touch, particularly around the time of their menstrual cycle.
Most lumps and bumps are hereditary or caused by taking in too much caffeine. These lumps are most typically benign cysts, but it’s important to check with a medical professional — especially if you’re a woman over the age of 30 — to ensure they aren’t a form of malignant cancer.
3. They drop. Yes, seriously.
Sometimes referred to as sagging, I prefer to think of this the way I think of fruit ripening on a woman’s sexual vine. As we age, our skin becomes less elastic and gravity causes that skin to stretch.
Whereas researchers used to think that hormonal changes, high impact exercise without the support of a proper sports bra, and a history of breastfeeding were to blamed for older women’s droopy breasts, they are now finding out that these were only myths, and that sagging is more likely caused by fluctuating weight changes, smoking, and plain old genetics.
4. They become softer.
It’s common for women of a certain age to say their breasts feel empty or that they aren’t as perky as they once were. Near the time a woman enters menopause, her mammillary glands begin to shrink and her body begins to stores fat in its place. This transition creates softer breasts which appear less full.
Although softer breasts are more common among older women, younger women may also experience their breasts softening at times due to hormonal changes, and weight gain can cause softness due to extra fat being stored in a similar fashion.
5. They shape-shift.
Environmental factors, lifestyle, and activity can change the shape of your breasts. Exercises targeting your chest muscles can provide a little boost to the area overall, but there will still likely be a notable difference between the way a woman’s breasts looked in her teen years as compared to they way they look in middle age.
Since some women gain weight over time as their metabolism slows, their breasts may also seem larger. The shape of her breast may also be affected by dehydration and the position in which a woman sleeps.
6. They get bigger — or smaller.
As breasts age, they may change not only change shape, but also size. A woman’s breasts don’t fully develop until she reaches her mid-20s. When she becomes pregnant, her breasts typically increase in size, and after giving birth, whether or not she breastfeeds, her breasts may never return back to their pre-pregnancy size.
When a woman gains weight, chances are she will also increase a cup size, and when she loses weight, she will similarly decrease her cup size.
Check out more great stories from YourTango: