At this point, we’ve spent more of our life with our breasts than without them, and yet we’re still only just getting acquainted. It’s high time we all became BFFs with our girls.
When it comes to breasts, we’re as ill-informed as if Coach Carr was our sex-ed teacher. And
to be honest, sex education in general is to blame because the curriculum kind of goes from “You’re going to grow breasts” straight to “Be sure to check for lumps”. But there are many other issues, problems and questions in between those stages we need to know and it’s not like you sit around with your friends comparing notes (and nipples). Doctor Stephanie Gill agrees. “It’s important to check your breasts regularly so you know what’s normal and to ensure you notice any changes early,” she says. Pour yourself a wine, take your top off and let’s talk baps. Because we believe that – like during foreplay – boobs should never be ignored.
Relax, you’re totally normal if…
You have hairs on your nipples
It’s quite common to have the odd hair sprouting from your nipple. To get rid of it, tweezers are probably your best bet. If you’re overly hairy there, check in with your GP because it can be a symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome.
One boob is bigger than the other
Sometimes one grows more quickly and they will generally even up over time. It’s not unusual to have breasts that are slightly different sizes, or for one to sit higher than the other.
You have an inverted nipple
This means they are turned inwards, which can happen from birth or when your breasts are developing. Rubbing may cause it to protrude, and they can change as a result of developing or after childbirth and breastfeeding.
Your areolas and nipples aren’t formed like a playboy playmate
Chances are, neither are theirs, but Photoshop and a bit of ice cube administering has them ready for their close-up. Areolas and nipples come in many shapes, sizes, colours, directions and can be different on each breast. It’s normal.
Your areolas and nipples actually are perfectly formed like a playboy playmate. and it’s kind of embarrassing
As in, they’re hard. All the time! Typically, nipples become erect with sexual arousal, stimulation or being cold; but some are erect for no reason. If you don’t like the outline through your clothes, a padded T-shirt bra will create smooth lines.
You have stretch marks
It’s actually more common to have stretch marks, than to not have any at all. Breasts grow fast and change size over the course of your life. If you hate their appearance, they will fade and applying rosehip oil will speed the process.
You have a third nipple
A ‘supernumerary nipple’ is more common than you think, with 1 in 50 females and 1 in 18 males sporting an extra nip. You’re in good company with Harry Styles and Carrie Underwood.
You touch them absentmindedly
We were going to ask a doctor to confirm this but some of us at team CLEO admitted touching our boobs without noticing all the time. Maybe everyone does it. We may stop giving men such a hard time for touching themselves then…
The up-close and personal questions
Q. Why do my boobs hurt?
A. There are many reasons, including tenderness as a result of your period, medication, wearing the wrong size bra or sports bra (replace them every six months), diet-related reasons, or you could have pulled a muscle. Pain is rarely a symptom of breast cancer but discuss it with your doctor.
Q. Is it OK to wear a bra to bed?
A. Great news for legitimising why all TV women wear bras in every sexual escapade (cast of Girls need not apply). It won’t cause breast cancer, flatten your chest or stop sagging. The only reason to wear (or not wear) a bra to bed is pure comfort.
Q. Why do my breasts fluctuate in size?
A. Your period is one of the main culprits. Other factors are weight loss or gain, pregnancy, breast development, breastfeeding, birth control pills and other medications and exercise. Sex also causes breasts to swell. Oh and as an FYI, there is no legit scientific data to suggest chanting “I must increase my bust” will have any effect on your cup size.
Q. What exactly is my bra size?
A. Chances are your top drawer contains items in a range of sizes. Your lacy balconette bra is a 12C but your sports bra is a 10B. Boobs can frequently fluctuate in size (see above) and there isn’t a regulator that checks every size bra is the same. The solution: always try before you buy.
Q. Does the contraceptive pill have side effects that will affect my boobs in any way?
A. Birth control pills can make your breasts increase or reduce in size. It can also cause your boobs to be sore and swollen. The Cancer Council says that women who take the pill have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer than women who don’t, especially if they have a family history of it. However, the pill reduces the risk of ovarian cancer, and the breast cancers found in women who have used it tend to be easier to treat.
Q. How come they’re so damn itchy?
A. It could be allergic reactions to fabrics or soaps, skin conditions or pregnancy. It can also just be a patch of dry skin like other parts of your body. In very rare cases, it can be a symptom of breast cancer. If you’re concerned talk to your GP.
Q. I’m not pregnant or breast feeding so why do my nipples sometimes randomly leak?
A. In most cases, nipple discharge is harmless. It can be coloured from whitish to yellow-green or brown. In rare cases, nipple discharge can be a symptom of breast cancer, particularly if it is bloodstained. Always discuss any nipple discharge with your doctor so you can be sure.