Whether you love, hate or have neutral feelings about your breasts, they are constantly changing throughout your life. Embracing the life stages that affect your breasts will help you better understand your body and stay on top of your breast health.
From puberty to menopause, we’re sharing the various life stages that affect your breasts:
Puberty: Your body receives a big burst of estrogen at the onset of puberty which triggers your breast buds to begin growing. From that point it may take several years for your breasts to develop into their full size. Usually teenagers get their periods 2 to 2½ years after breast buds emerge.
Menstrual Cycle: The two stages of menstruation – follicular and luteal – are marked with distinct changes to your breasts.
The follicular stage is at the beginning of your cycle. Around five to seven days after your period your estrogen and progesterone levels are at the lowest and your breast volume will be smallest. This is the best time to get a feel for your breasts in their true form.
The luteal stage at the end of your cycle is when your hormone levels are rising and your breasts are fullest. This may cause them to feel lumpy and tender. Many women mistake these changes for signs of breast cancer when they are really only hormonal shifts.
Pregnancy: As your body prepares for breastfeeding during pregnancy, your breasts undergo many changes. The various channels for producing and delivering breast milk to your baby – including milk ducts, lobules, blood vessels and nerves – are getting ready to sustain a human life. They are expanding for the job and it may cause your breasts to feel sore and enlarged, especially as you round out your last few months of pregnancy. Breasts often feel tender at the beginning of pregnancy as well, when they are adjusting to the increased hormone levels in the body.
Breastfeeding: All that prep work during pregnancy was for a great cause. After childbirth your body releases prolactin to stimulate milk production. First you’ll produce colostrum and then by three weeks postpartum your mature milk will be available. Most new moms’ milk comes in around two to five days after giving birth. This is when breasts can feel very full and heavy. It’s important to express breast milk often to avoid engorgement, plugged ducts and mastitis, three uncomfortable conditions that many new moms face. Nursing bras and nursing tank tops are a must at this point.
Menopause: Most women’s breasts become large during and after menopause, and many women experience sagging as well. This is because, on average, women gain at least a pound a year after menopause due to hormone shifts, less energy for exercise and loss of lean muscle. Additionally, women lose denser breast tissue and it is replaced with fatty tissue that is more likely to sag.
A fabulous wardrobe of full figure bras is in order to help maintain a beautiful silhouette and reduce sagging. Fit, support and comfort are key components to your best full figure bras.
Sources: Shape Magazine and Everyday Health