A few billion people on this planet have breasts, but how much do we really know about them? Breasts get a lot of attention for their appearance but not much attention at all for how they affect the rest of our bodies and our lives. So if you have breasts or know someone who does (which we know you do), it’s time to learn a thing or two about them.
Below, you’ll find 10 things you probably didn’t know about breasts. While not all the information will be relevant to all people with breasts, we believe everyone can learn something useful from these simple but little-known facts. So listen up!
10. Breasts are not usually symmetrical.
A woman’s breasts are most symmetrical around the time of ovulation (cycle days 14 to 16 for most). But it’s totally normal for a pair of breasts not to be exactly the same. Oddly enough, the left one is usually slightly larger.
9. You can change their shape.
The type of bra you wear (or whether you wear one at all) can impact how droopy your boobs get over time. Lying on your chest when you sleep can change the shape of your breasts too. Chemicals (such as those found in cigarettes) can also break down the elastin in your breasts, causing them to sag.
8. Men have them too.
Well, sort of. Although we wouldn’t call what men have “breasts,” they still have nipples and breast tissue and are susceptible to breast cancer, just like women.
7. Your bra is the wrong size.
About 80% of women wear the wrong size bra, which can lead to health issues like back pain, headaches, and even indigestion. Not to mention, it may change the way you look for the worse. A good bra makes all the difference.
6. Extra nipples are okay.
Extra nipples sound a little scary and science-fictiony, but they’re really not that uncommon or troublesome. About 6% of the population has one.
5. Breasts have dryness issues.
Your breasts are more prone to skin problems, including dryness, than any other area of your body. Don’t forget to moisturize the girls, nipples included!
4. You’ve heard of “period pants”…
You know those pants you wear when you’re having a “fat” day? As it turns out, you should have a different bra for the same purpose! You bra size could change as much as an entire cup size at different points during your menstrual cycle.
3. There is a best time for a breast exam.
The important thing is to stay consistent about the point in your cycle you choose to examine your breast tissue—so that you’re comparing apples to apples, so to speak. But the best time to check for abnormalities is shortly after your period, when you’re less likely to have lumps and bumps in your breast that are totally normal but could cause you to freak out for no reason.
2. Your nipples are normal.
Seriously. Nipples and areolae come in all shapes and sizes, and none of them are anything to be ashamed of. If you’re worried that yours are something totally out of the ordinary, talk to your doctor. But it’s not uncommon for yours not to look the same as everyone else’s.
1. Breast pain is normal.
It’s completely normal to have breast or nipple pain at different points in your cycle due to changes in your hormones. It’s also normal to have breast pain after a heavy workout. Caffeine could even increase your sensitivity to pain in that area. If you only have pain in one breast or if it is persistent over the course of a few weeks, talk to your doctor.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?