Breast Size and Shape

1. How did I come to have the size and shape breasts that I do have? Breast size and shape is both genetic and hormonal, with a bit of modification by weight and underlying muscle development. So we do have a bit of control over what size our breasts are. Fetal life is when the breasts first begin what is called differentiation, or what most of us think of as development.

2. Was it estrogen in puberty that caused my breast to develop into this shape? To some extent yes, but actually it is especially the exposure in fetal life to testosterone that has more influence. It should not come as a surprise to those of us thinking about it that actually hormonal exposure in fetal life can have an actual impact on breast size and shape in later life, as there is programing of many of the body tissues during fetal life. It is thought that this fetal programing then sets the stage for puberty and the amount of breast development that occurs then.

3. Breasts are getting larger, it’s not just yours. Average size has increased, echoed by the fact that bras have enlarged from 34 B to 34DD over the past few decades. It is related to both weight and dietary changes to the American diet, but we also are getting a better fit from our bras.

4.Denser breasts are not necessarily bigger breasts. But denser breasts tend to have more breast lumps.

5. Why is one breast bigger. Everyone begins breast development on one side before the other, thus hormonal and nutritional factors at the time of development can have different effects because they literally are forming at different times. The development at puberty can also produce general enlargement of the breast called breast hypertrophy, this will resolve and the breasts will then be in the normal size range. Once breast development occurs each breast may grow at their own pace, and most women will end up fairly (but not exactly) symmetrical. Breast tissue is mostly the breast ducts, and some fat.

6. Why are some breasts an odd shape? Breasts do have underlying stronger ligament or fascia support. Another rare condition of the breast is for these structures to be constricted so the breasts can only grow in a forward, but not a sideways dimension. The end result of this condition is that the breasts are very narrow and longer than wide, known as tubular breasts. Hormone treatment has been reported to be able to cure this condition. Rarely a sports injury or other trauma to the breast can do enough damage that a breast bud will be damaged and never develop.

7. It’s the left breast that is usually larger. Check your guy, his left testicle is probably bigger than his right one.

8. I had lumps as my breasts developed, will I always have them? Sometimes in puberty the rapid acceleration in hormone exposure can cause temporary lumps or cysts that will expand the breasts, but that effect usually resolves, and is usually not medically problematic.

9. Why aren’t my nipples the same color? Like sun exposure to the face, sun more on one side than the other can cause nipple color discoloration. Nipple shape and color may vary as well, and the nipple changes may indeed be hormonally (and sun exposure) influenced. If you always use your hormone cream on one arm only, that nipple will likely darken.

10. Can my gyno give me hormones to improve my breast size? There has never been a way to reliably do this, although it does work for some people, and may be able to be tried. If a young girl has a hormonal medical issue and doesn’t get any breast development, then she will be able to achieve some breast development if a gyno gives her estrogen. But for most women, hormone use will only increase the breasts slightly, and it’s not a permanent change. For those who use hormones to increase breast development, the amount of breast size change will only continue for as long as the hormone use continues.

11. The larger breast is not more likely to get cancer and larger breasts are not at an increased risk of cancer.

12. Can you work out to improve the breast shape or size? The breast muscles underlying the breasts can be built up enough to produce the impression of larger breasts, but again, after the exercise stops, the perceptual improvement will decrease. Very large or very small, or very abnormally shaped breasts can only be corrected by surgery.

At Hatha Yoga and Fitness, we want to help you exercise to improve your muscles, and check out our fitness gear for safe and beautiful yoga and fitness sports bras.

whphealth

Suzanne Trupin, MD, Board Certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist and owner of Women's Health Practice, Hada Cosmetic Medicine, and Hatha Yoga and Fitness

7 thoughts on “Breast Size and Shape

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