The ultimate Boob Bible: All you need to know from size to shape, sagging and breast pain
You may not realise it, but your boobs are far more complicated than you think, so Denise Smith has compiled an all-you-need-to-know guide on your girls...
Published 03/08/2016 | 12:14
You've loitered by the water cooler all morning in hopes of nabbing a sneaky chat with your crush, but while you're planning to charm him with your sheer wit and intellect, he has only one thing on his mind - your breasts.
When it comes to conversation, some men simply skip eye contact and go straight to second base. Men may be infatuated with our female organs, but for us, the novelty wore off about the same time we grew out of our first training bra. So it's no surprise that many of us are pretty clueless when it comes to our bosom buddies. Sure we know the basics, but with the majority of us not even wearing the right size bra, it figures we might need a little help.
Contrary to popular belief, there's no such thing as a perfect set, from Jennifer Lawrence's uneven breasts to Lily Allen's third nipple, we've compiled the answers to all your niggling breast questions to give you the low down on your girls.
One may be bigger
So you've spent the last 10 years awkwardly avoiding gym changing rooms and general nudity all because one of your boobs is bigger that the other. Newsflash, about one quarter of all women have one breast that is larger than the other, and that even includes Jennifer Lawrence - you read it here first.
For about 65pc of women with breast asymmetry, the left dominates. A Turkish study found that the left side of the body has a higher immune hypersensitivity, a factor that impacts hormones such as estrogen that control breast shape and size. This unevenness is only cause for concern if one breast abruptly becomes larger than the other, and you notice lumps or increased tenderness, which could be signs of infection, cysts, or in a smaller percentage of cases, breast cancer.
There's no such thing as perfect
And just to hammer home the fact that perfect boobs simple don't exist, Emily Ratajkowski is the obvious exception, one study found that perfectly symmetrical breasts basically aren't a thing. One woman out of 504 had symmetrical boobs and her name was probably Emily Ratajkowski.
Their size can fluctuate
Ever noticed that your breasts look a little fuller around your period? Levels of the hormones progesterone and prolactin increase about a week or two before you menstruate, meaning you retain more water and your breast tissue and milk glands grow. Some women can grow as much as a cup size bigger. So periods aren't all bad.
Bras accelerate sagging
Okay, so this little snippet of information might be controversial, but according to a French study conducted over 15 years on women aged between 18 and 35, wearing a bra can actually accelerate sagging. The study claimed that those women who did not wear a bra actually benefited long term, as they were able to develop more muscle tissue, which provided natural support.
Strap them in
While some exercises can be great for your girls, other workouts can be detrimental. If you plan on taking up running or aerobics without a well-fitted sports bra on your side, then expect a lot more droopiness and a lot less bounce.
When you jog or run, your breasts can bounce more than eight inches and move in all different directions according to a British study. With an estimated 50pc of women dealing with breast pain while exercising, a sturdy sports bar that has underwire and moulded cups is a must
How much do they weigh?
For anyone who steps on the scales and blames their knockers on the rising dial, think again, your breasts weigh less than you think. An A-cup weighs in at only a quarter pound; a B, about half a pound; a C, three-quarters of a pound; and a D, an estimated one pound. Devastating news for us all. And just FYI, a study from Debenham's found that the average cup size in Ireland is a 34C. In Scotland, the average cup size is a 34DD, while English women typically measure in at 34C.
Breast orgasms exist
Yes, breast orgasms are actually a thing. Rutgers University researchers found that nipple stimulation activated the medial paracentral lobule, or the part of a woman's brain that also lights up with genital action. Still not convinced? In a classic study of 213 women, 29pc of the females reported experiencing a nipple-gasm.
It makes sense that our breasts have thinner skin than the rest of our body. As they grow and develop the skin stretches, leaving them susceptible to dryness. But there is a quick fix, simply moisturise your twins with a firming cream, if possible one that encourages collagen and elastin growth. Your nipples can also suffer from dryness, so apply Vaseline to keep them in good health.
Tweezers at the ready ladies. Yes, you heard right: the majority of women have some degree of nipple hair. In fact, doctors estimate that about 30pc of women have hair in the region.
Having between two and 15 hairs is completely normal. As a rule, the darker your skin colouring and hair tone, the more nipple hair you'll have - try tweezing or waxing to rid yourself of excess or unwanted hair.
Ever wondered why your nipples naturally invert (pull in) at times and evert (poke out) at other times? Don't panic, it's natural. While some women can be born with inverted nipples, in other instances, breastfeeding and pregnancy can cause your nipples to invert. However, if your nipples have always been everted, and suddenly invert for no obvious reason, this should be evaluated by your doctor. While it will most likely be nothing to fret about, in some select cases this can be the first sign of a breast cancer.
Sleeping face down and giving your boobs no breathing time can misshape your breasts over an extended period of time. The best way to hit the hay is on your side, with a pillow under your puppies for maximum support as you sleep.
Your face isn't the only area that has a T zone, the area above and between your breasts is loaded with oil glands, which is why it's a hotbed for blackheads and pimples. For any well-endowed women, the bigger your bust the more sweat collects, creating an ideal environment for the bacteria that cause unsightly blemishes.
Remember to use an absorbent powder under and between your breasts to keep your skin dry.
It is perfectly normal for your nipples to leak fluid when you squeeze them. Nipple leakage is not uncommon and can be caused by the birth control pill or blood pressure drugs.
If you are approaching menopause, fluctuating hormones can also elevate your levels of prolactin, (the hormone that tells your breasts to make milk) - causing you to produce discharge even if you're not lactating.
If the discharge contains blood or leaks out without stimulation, consult your doctor.
Three's not a crowd
When we heard that Lily Allen had a third nipple, we thought nothing of it, it's more common than you think. Usually small in size and located lower on the body than the main pair, it looks more like a freckle than a nipple, which is why many people don't even realise they have one.
Ever freak out when you get a sharp twinge in your breast? Relax, it could be caused by a whole variety of reasons. All-over tenderness is usually caused by hormonal changes - yes we're talking about PMS.
Studies have shown that vitamins B6 and E ease such symptoms. Pain in one specific spot, is a sign you have been pushing too hard in the gym and is most likely due to muscle strain.
If you're breastfeeding, you may have mastitis - an infection that can occur when a duct gets clogged. If you find a lump and are concerned, see your doctor immediately, but don't fret, breast pain is rarely associated with cancer.