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Breast Anatomy and Physiology

It is important for women to become familiar with the normal anatomy and physiology (function) of their breasts so that they can recognize early signs of possible abnormalities. This section outlines basic information on breast composition, development, and typical changes from puberty to pregnancy to menopause.

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Breast Composition

The breast is a mass of glandular, fatty, and fibrous tissues positioned over the pectoral muscles of the chest wall and attached to the chest wall by fibrous strands called Cooper’s ligaments. A layer of fatty tissue surrounds the breast glands and extends throughout the breast. The fatty tissue gives the breast a soft consistency.

Image courtesy of NCI/NIH

The glandular tissues of the breast house the lobules (milk producing glands at the ends of the lobes) and the ducts (milk passages). Toward the nipple, each duct widens to form a sac (ampulla). During lactation, the bulbs on the ends of the lobules produce milk. Once milk is produced, it is transferred through the ducts to the nipple.

The breast is composed of:

  • milk glands (lobules) that produce milk
  • ducts that transport milk from the milk glands (lobules) to the nipple
  • nipple
  • areola (pink or brown pigmented region surrounding the nipple)
  • connective (fibrous) tissue that surrounds the lobules and ducts
  • fat

Arteries carry oxygen rich blood from the heart to the chest wall and the breasts and veins take de-oxygenated blood back to the heart. The axillary artery extends from the armpit and supplies the outer half of the breast with blood; the internal mammary artery extends down from neck and supplies the inner portion of the breast.

Initial Breast Development

Human breast tissue begins to develop in the sixth week of fetal life. Breast tissue initially develops along the lines of the armpits and extends to the groin (this is called the milk ridge). By the ninth week of fetal life, it regresses (goes back) to the chest area, leaving two breast buds on the upper half of the chest. In females, columns of cells grow inward from each breast bud, becoming separate sweat glands with ducts leading to the nipple. Both male and female infants have very small breasts and actually experience some nipple discharge during the first few days after birth.

Female breasts do not begin growing until puberty—the period in life when the body undergoes a variety of changes to prepare for reproduction. Puberty usually begins for women around age 10 or 11. After pubic hair begins to grow, the breasts will begin responding to hormonal changes in the body. Specifically, the production of two hormones, estrogen and progesterone, signal the development of the glandular breast tissue. This initial growth of the breast may be somewhat painful for some girls. During this time, fat and fibrous breast tissue becomes more elastic. The breast ducts begin to grow and this growth continues until menstruation begins (typically one to two years after breast development has begun). Menstruation prepares the breasts and ovaries for potential pregnancy.

Before puberty Early puberty Late puberty
the breast is flat except for the nipple that sticks out from the chest the areola becomes a prominent bud; breasts begin to fill out glandular tissue and fat increase in the breast, and areola becomes flat

Breast Size, Appearance, and Changes Over Time

The size and shape of women’s breasts varies considerably. Some women have a large amount of breast tissue, and therefore, have large breasts. Other women have a smaller amount of tissue with little breast fat.

Factors that may influence a woman’s breast size include:

  • Volume of breast tissue
  • Family history
  • Age
  • Weight loss or gain
  • History of pregnancies and lactation
  • Thickness and elasticity of the breast skin
  • Degree of hormonal influences on the breast (particularly estrogen and progesterone)
  • Menopause

A woman’s breasts are rarely balanced (symmetrical). Usually, one breast is slightly larger or smaller, higher or lower, or shaped differently than the other. The size and characteristics of the nipple also vary greater from one woman to another. In some women, the nipples are constantly erect. In others, they will only become erect when stimulated by cold or touch. Some women also have inverted (turned in) nipples. Inverted nipples are not a cause for concern unless the condition is a new change. Since there are hair follicles around the nipple, hair on the breast is not uncommon.

The nipple can be flat, round, or cylindrical in shape. The color of the nipple is determined by the thinness and pigmentation of its skin. The nipple and areola (pigmented region surrounding the nipple) contain specialized muscle fibers that respond to stimulation to make the nipple erect. The areola also houses the Montgomery’s gland that may appear as tiny, raised bumps on the surface of the areola. The Montgomery’s gland helps lubricate the areola. When the nipple is stimulated, the muscle fibers will contract, the areola will pucker, and the nipples become hard.

Breast shape and appearance undergo a number of changes as a woman ages. In young women, the breast skin stretches and expands as the breasts grow, creating a rounded appearance. Young women tend to have denser breasts (more glandular tissue) than older women.

On mammogram films, breast masses, including both non-cancerous and cancerous lesions, appear as white regions. Fat appears as black regions on the films. All other components of the breast (glands, connective tissue, tumors, calcium deposits, etc.) appear as shades of white on a mammogram. In general, the younger the woman, the denser her breasts. As a woman ages, her breasts become less dense and the space is filled with fatty tissue shown as dark areas on mammography x-rays. It is usually easier for radiologists to detect breast cancer in older women because abnormal areas are easier to spot.

During each menstrual cycle, breast tissue tends to swell from changes in the body’s levels of estrogen and progesterone. The milk glands and ducts enlarge, and in turn, the breasts retain water. During menstruation, breasts may temporarily feel swollen, painful, tender, or lumpy. Physicians recommend that women practice monthly breast self-exams the week following menstruation when the breasts are least tender.

Fibrocystic breast condition is a common benign (non-cancerous) breast condition related to the menstrual cycle. Some women with fibrocystic breasts experience cysts (accumulated packets of fluid), lumpiness, areas of thickening, tenderness, or breast pain. Symptoms of fibrocystic change will usually subside after menopause but may be prolonged if a woman uses hormone replacement therapy.

Breast Changes During Pregnancy

Women should continue monthly breast self-exams during pregnancy. It is especially important that a clinical breast exam be performed by the physician or nurse during the first doctor’s appointment of the pregnancy, before the breasts go through significant physiologic changes. Clinical breast exams should then continue on a monthly basis during pregnancy. Screening mammograms in asymptomatic women (women who have no symptoms of breast cancer) are not performed during pregnancy or lactation and may be performed at a later time.

During pregnancy, a variety of breast changes occur. Typically, breasts become tender and the nipples become sore a few weeks after conception. The breasts also increase in size very quickly. It is not uncommon for a woman’s breasts to increase by one or two cup sizes during and after pregnancy. The most rapid period of breast growth is during the first eight weeks of pregnancy. The Montgomery’s gland surrounding the areola (pigmented region surrounding the nipple) becomes darker and more prominent, and the areola itself darkens. The nipples also become larger and more erect as they prepare for milk production. The blood vessels within the breast enlarge as surges of estrogen stimulate the growth of the ducts and surges of progesterone cause the glandular tissue to expand.

Two hormones are responsible for milk production: prolactin and oxytocin. Prolactin is sometimes referred to as the "mothering hormone" because some people believe it also causes a tranquilizing effect that makes women feel more maternal. The body begins producing prolactin approximately eight weeks after conception. As the pregnancy progresses, the levels of prolactin steadily increase, peaking when the woman gives birth. As the body produces more and more prolactin, high levels of estrogen and progesterone block some of the prolactin receptors and inhibit milk production until after the baby is born.

After birth, estrogen and progesterone levels decrease and the production of prolactin declines. The breasts will usually begin to produce milk three to five days after a woman has given birth. During these few days before milk is produced, the body produces colostrum, a liquid substance that contains antibodies to help protect the infant against infections. Some physicians believe that colostrum also decreases an infant's chances of developing asthma and other allergies. Within a few days, the infant's own immune system will develop and he or she will not need colostrum.

The other hormone responsible for milk production, oxytocin, delivers the milk that prolactin has produced. When an infant suckles at the mother’s breast, it brings milk out of the nipples. This suction signals the body to make more milk (using prolactin) and deliver more milk (using oxytocin). The body also produces a variety of other hormones (insulin, thyroid, cortisol) that provide the infant with nutrition when he or she takes the mother’s milk. A woman’s body will continue to produce milk until she stops breast-feeding, and even then, it may take several months for milk production to completely stop. The breasts will usually return to their previous size (or slightly smaller) after breast-feeding is completed.

Breast Changes After Menopause

When a woman reaches menopause (typically in her late 40s or early 50s), her body stops producing estrogen and progesterone. The loss of these hormones causes a variety of symptoms in many women including hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, vaginal dryness and difficulty sleeping. During this time, the breasts also undergo change. For some women, the breasts become more tender and lumpy, sometimes forming cysts (accumulated packets of fluid).

The breasts’ glandular tissue, which has been kept firm so that the glands could produce milk, shrinks after menopause and is replaced with fatty tissue. The breasts also tend to increase in size and sag because the fibrous (connective) tissue loses its strength. Because the breasts become less dense after menopause, it is often easier for radiologists to detect breast cancer on an older woman’s mammogram films, since abnormalities are not hidden by breast density. Since a woman’s risk of breast cancer increases with age, all women should begin receiving annual screening mammograms at age 40, and continue monthly breast self-exams and physician-performed clinical breast exams every year. Click here to learn more about breast cancer.

Though breast growth is not visible until puberty, breast development begins very early in the embryo and can be discerned within just a few weeks of conception. Interestingly, the earliest stages are identical in male and female fetuses, so many men could develop fully functioning breasts given the right hormonal conditions

After birth the breast has only two phases of development; the first at puberty with the outpouring of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone; the second during pregnancy and lactation, when the milk-producing lobules become larger

If puberty is stunted or if a woman remains childless, her breasts will not fully develop. The first stage of breast development begins in the embryo at about six weeks, with a thickening in the skin called the mammary ridge or milk line

By the time the fetus is six months old, this extends from the armpit to the groin, but it soon dies back, leaving two breast buds on the upper half oft he chest. Occasionally, rudimentary mammary glands develop along the milk line forming additional nipples or breasts that sometimes persist into adult life. More rarely, the two breast buds fade away with the rest of the milk line, so that the nipples are absent from birth

Because the initial development of the milk line is the same in male and female fetuses, this development can appear in the male and the female.

When a female fetus is about six months old, 15 - 20 solid columns of cells grow inward from each breast bud. Each column becomes a separate "sweat" or exocrine gland. With it’s own separate duct leading to the nipple

By the eighth month of fetal development, these columns of cells have become hollow so that, by birth, a nipple and a rudimentary milk-duct system have formed. No further development takes place until puberty

The first external signs of breast development appear at the age of 10 or 11 - though it can be as late as 14 years. The ovaries start to secrete estrogen leading to an accumulation of fat in the connective tissue that causes the breast to enlarge. The duct system also begins to develop, but only to the point of forming cellular knobs at the end of the ducts

As far as we know the mechanism that secretes milk doesn’t develop until pregnancy. Although the breast may appear fully grown within a few years of puberty, strictly speaking, their development is not complete until they have fulfilled their biological function - that is, until the woman carries a pregnancy to term and breast-feeds her baby, when they will undergo further changes


Once a young woman reaches puberty, and ovulation and the menstrual cycle begins, the breasts start to mature, forming real secretory glands at the ends of the milk ducts. Initially these glands are very primitive and may consist of only one or two layers of cells surrounded by a base membrane.

Between this membrane and the glandular cells are cells of another type, called myo-epithelial cells, these cells are the ones that contract and squeeze milk from the gland if pregnancy occurs and milk production takes place .

With further growth, the lobes of the glands become separated from one another by dense connective tissue and fat deposits. This tissue is easily stretched. This is where the natural enlargement formula comes in and allows the enlargement that normally occurs during pregnancy when the glandular elements swell and grow

The duct system grows considerably after conception and many more glands and lobules are formed. This causes the breast to increase in size as it matures to fulfill its role of providing food for the baby


Most women notice that just before menstruation their breasts enlarge and their nipples become sensitive and even painful. The texture of the breasts change and they become rather lumpy, with small discrete swellings that resemble orange pips in both texture and size. These lumps are glands in the breast which enlarge in preparation for pregnancy.

If pregnancy doesn’t occur, breasts return to their normal size and the glands become imperceptible to touch within a few days, ready for re-growth the next month. These changes in the breast are only one part of many changes that occur in the female body as the result of the monthly ebb and flow of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone


As we get older, our breasts tend to sag and flatten; the larger the breasts, the more they sag. With the menopause there is a reduction in stimulation by the hormone oestrogen to all tissues of the body, including breast tissue; this results in a reduction in the glandular tissue of the breasts. So they loose their earlier fullness.

Regular exercise would have however prevented or slowed down the ageing process. Much of the connective tissue in the breast is composed of a fibrous protein called collagen, which needs oestrogen to keep it healthy. Without oestrogen, it becomes dehydrated and inelastic. Once the collagen has lost its shape and stretchability it "was" believed that it could not return to its former state or condition


Human breast tissue begins to develop in the sixth week of fetal life. Breast tissue initially develops along the lines of the armpits and extends to the groin (this is called the milk ridge). By the ninth week of fetal life, it regresses (goes back) to the chest area, leaving two breast buds on the upper half of the chest. In females, columns of cells grow inward from each breast bud, becoming separate sweat glands with ducts leading to the nipple. Both male and female infants have very small breasts and actually experience some nipple discharge during the first few days after birth.

Female breasts do not begin growing until puberty—the period in life when the body undergoes a variety of changes to prepare for reproduction. Puberty usually begins for women around age 10 or 11. After pubic hair begins to grow, the breasts will begin responding to hormonal changes in the body. Specifically, the production of two hormones, estrogen and progesterone, signal the development of the glandular breast tissue.. During this time, fat and fibrous breast tissue becomes more elastic. The breast ducts begin to grow and this growth continues until menstruation begins (typically one to two years after breast development has begun). Menstruation prepares the breasts and ovaries for potential pregnancy.

Before puberty
Early puberty
Late puberty
the breast is flat except for the nipple that sticks out from the chest
the areola becomes a prominent bud; breasts begin to fill out
glandular tissue and fat increase in the breast, and areola becomes flat
Female Breast Developmental Stages

Stage 1

(Preadolescent) only the tip of the nipple is raised

Stage 2

buds appear, breast and nipple raised, and the areola (dark area of skin that surrounds the nipple) enlarges

Stage 3

breasts are slightly larger with glandular breast tissue present

Stage 4

the areola and nipple become raised and form a second mound above the rest of the breast

Stage 5

mature adult breast; the breast becomes rounded and only the nipple is raised


Further references:

Breast Development, Female Changes, Maturity of breasts

Normal breast development and teenage girls worries

See also:

What causes sagging?
Teenage girls, breast size & body image
Normal Breasts Gallery
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Breast Size, Shape & Concerns - Questions and Answers from TeenHealthFX

Finding objective information on herbal breast enlargement pills

Breast Enhancement products

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To learn more about puberty in general, please visit:

Normal breast development and teenage girls worries




Stage 1

Stage 2

Stage 3

Stage 4

Stage 5

The preadolescent breast (known medically as stage 1 per Tanner's sex maturity ratings) consists of a small elevated nipple with no significant underlying breast tissue.  (Tanner's stages are based on studies of white English girls.  An American survey found that black girls tended to advance more quickly.) Genital and pubic hair development is also classified by Tanner.

Puberty begins (usually between ages of 8 and 13, average age is 11) with the development of breast tissue and pubic hair.  With the hormonal changes of puberty, breast buds form.  This second stage of breast development is the breast bud stage.  Here, there is elevation of the breast and nipple as a small mound; the areola begins to enlarge.  Milk ducts inside the breast begin to grow. 

In stage 3, there is further enlargement and elevation of the breast and areola (with no separation of their contours)  The areola begins to darken in color.  The milk ducts give rise to milk glands that also begin to grow. 

Next, there is projection of the areola and nipple to form a secondary mound (stage 4). 

In the mature adult breast (stage 5), there is projection of the nipple only (though in some woman the areola continues to form a secondary mound). 

The breasts of an aging woman diminish in size as the milk glands degrade.  The breasts often become more saggy as this occurs and as the effects of gravity pull the breast tissue downwards.

A newborn baby has nipples, areolas, and the beginnings of breast tissue but most of the breast development occurs in two different periods of time in a woman's life: first in puberty, then during pregnancy.

Breast development during puberty

The beginnning of breast development is one of the earliest signs of puberty in girls, the appearance of pubic hair being the other. In other words, pubic hair and breast buds appear close together timewise.

Breast development normally begins about 1 year before the mestrual period begins. The development takes several years.

In the initial stages of breast development, it is the hormone estrogen that drives the development, causing fat to be deposited in the breast, and the milk ducts to grow. This is the time for the biggest growth in size.

After the girl gets her period, the ovaries start producing progesterone, and that changes things. Progesterone causes the milk glands to develop at the ends of the milk ducts. This development causes less visible growth sizewise, but is very important for the 'job'.

During breast growth, you may experience some pain and hurt or tenderness in your breasts. That is normal. Also the skin may be itching, which is a sign of skin stretching.

The whole process from the breast bud stage till the pubertal development is over usually takes about 3-5 years, but for some girls it may take close to 10 years.

Note also that after breast development during puberty, the breast is still NOT considered mature or fully developed.  Only pregnancy brings about the fullness of breast growth and development.

The breast development can start as early as 8 years or as late as 13 years.  If a girl does not have breast buds nor pubic hair, which are the first signs of puberty, by age 14, it is recommended that she see a doctor. The same is true if a girl does not get her period by age 15 - this is called delayed puberty, and there are several possible reasons for it. It is advisable to visit a doctor.

Though most of this development is over in a few years after getting your period, many girls can get a little rounder and fuller breasts in their early twenties, when they naturally get even more feminine and mature appearance with 'feminine curves' (meaning girls gain a little weight leaving the skinny teenage look behind).

Occasionally, a girl's breasts keep growing and keep growing way past those about 5 years of typical development timeframe, and become very large. This condition where the breasts don't stop growing is called virginal (or juvenile) hypertrophy of the breasts(see a picture).

What about those "Tanner stages"?

In medical circles, breast development is sometimes divided into five stages according to Tanner. These stages of Tanner describe the physical appearance of the breast and do NOT describe "what is going on inside", or the development of milk ducts and glands.

They are just some general notions of how growing breasts often look like - something that a doctor can easily observe from the outside.

HOWEVER, since the Tanner stages only describe the outside appearance and have little do with the inside development, you should not worry about these. Women's breasts vary SO MUCH in appearance that you simply cannot apply Tanner stages to every girl's breasts.

Question about small breasts

Hi, I have a question. I got my period when I was 10 1/2, and I'm 15 now. Starting puberty so young, I thought I was gonna have DD's by now... haha. That's definitely not the case. I don't even fit into a 32A bra, and I was wondering if I'm going to be "flat chested" forever or if there's still time to develop... If there is still time, I was wondering, how can I know if they're growing? Will there be soreness or something? How can I tell if they are already fully developed?
Thank you so much,

While breast tissue is developing, there may be soreness. Also the skin may itch from stretching. If the growth was slow, then you wouldn't necessarily have the itching. And not all girls have the soreness, either. So in that sense there are not definite signs of breast development.

And also it's hard to tell if you're fully developed because that would involve examining the actual glandular tissue. See, the difference in between A and B cup, say, is mostly fat (and some connective tissue). So you probably have the milk-making system in your breasts now and just less fat than someone with DD's. The milk-making system fully develops only during pregnancy, by the way.

Your breasts are probably fine. It's just that not everyone gets B or C cup breasts... it varies just like our height varies. If you're underweight or real skinny, then if you ever gain weight, your breasts will also 'gain some fat' and appear bigger.



Breast Health: A Guide for Teens

Women's breasts come in all shapes and sizes. There is no perfect shape or size for breasts. Normal breasts can be large or small, smooth or lumpy, and light or dark.

Most young women have a lot of questions about their breasts. This guide was created to answer some of the most common questions girls have about breast health.

You can click on the headings below to jump to a specific topic.

Breast Development

What's Normal

Lumps & Bumps

Self Breast Exam

Breast Cancer Risks

Buying a Bra

Measuring for a Bra


Breast Development back to top

How do breasts develop?

The inside of your breasts is made up of fatty tissue and many milk-producing glands, called mammary glands. The dark area of your breast around your nipple is called the areola. As your body starts to develop, a small bump grows under the areola and nipple. This bump is called the breast bud. As the buds get larger and rounder, the breasts grow.

As your breasts develop, the areolae get bigger and darker. Areolae and nipples can range in color from light pink to purplish to light gray depending on your skin color.

When will I get breasts?

Your breasts start growing when you begin puberty. Puberty is the name for the time when your body goes through changes and you begin to go from being a child to an adult. During puberty the hormone levels in your body change and this causes your breasts to develop and your menstrual periods to start. Heredity (the way certain characteristics are passed down from generation to generation) and nutrition determine when you are going to begin puberty and develop breasts. Most girls' breasts begin growing when they are about 10 or 11 years old, but some girls may start developing breasts earlier or later than this age.

How long will it take to get breasts?

It takes three to five years from the time your breasts start growing until they reach their full size. The age when you start to develop does not have an effect on the final size of your breasts. For example, if you develop earlier than most girls, this doesn't mean that you will have bigger breasts than most girls.

Is there anything I can do to increase the size of my breasts?

Heredity is the most important factor in determining breast shape and size. No creams, exercises, or clothing will change your breast size. Your breasts may change with weight loss or gain or after a pregnancy, but for the most part the size of your breasts stays the same once you have finished puberty. Also, breast size has no effect on whether a woman will be able to breastfeed her baby.

When and how will my breasts make milk?

Inside a woman's breasts are tiny pockets called alveoli. After a woman gives birth, her body's hormones tell her alveoli to produce milk. When her baby sucks on her nipple, the sucking draws milk from the alveoli through the milk ducts and out small holes in the nipple. When the mother stops breast-feeding her baby, her alveoli slowly stop making milk.

What's Normal? back to top

My breasts are uneven. Is this normal?

Your breasts may be two different sizes during development but usually they will look about the same by the time they are done growing. If the size difference bothers you, you can try foam inserts that fit into your bra or bathing suit. These inserts are sold at specialty bra and lingerie shops.

Sometimes breasts can still be really uneven after they've finished growing. If you are unhappy about the difference in your breasts' sizes and your breasts have finished growing (3-5 years after your breasts started developing), you have the option of talking with your health care provider about the benefits and risks of cosmetic surgery.

Is it normal to have hair around my nipples?

Some girls have hair around their nipples. This is completely normal. If the hair bothers you, it's best to cut it with small scissors. Plucking or shaving the hair can cause infection.

My nipples point inward instead of out. Is this normal?

If your nipples point inward instead of out, you have "inverted nipples." Between 10%-20% of all girls have inverted nipples. This is normal and will not affect your health in any way. If you have inverted nipples, it is important to keep them clean to avoid getting an infection in the folds of skin around your nipple.

If your nipples used to point out but have suddenly turned in, you should contact your health care provider for an examination.

What are stretch marks? Are they normal?

Stretch marks are red spoke-like lines that appear on the skin during periods of rapid physical growth (such as puberty or pregnancy). During puberty, stretch marks on the breasts are very common and completely normal. Other common places for stretch marks are on the hips and thighs. Over time, the stretch marks will fade to match your normal skin color (usually within 1 to 2 years).

If I have a rash around the nipple area on my breasts, does that mean that my breasts are infected?

Usually, yes. A rash can be a sign of an infection with or without a fever, especially if one breast is swollen and tender or a discharge is present. You can also get a rash on the skin under your breasts, which is usually either a heat rash or a yeast infection. If any of these signs of infection are present, call your health care provider. Sometimes a hair root around your nipple area can become infected. When this happens, one or more tiny red bumps appear. The tiny red bumps are called folliculitis. If you have this concern, talk to your health care provider.

Is breast pain or tenderness normal?

You may feel a tingling or aching in your chest when your breast buds start developing. After you start to get your periods you may notice that your breasts become tender or sore about a week before you get your period each month. This soreness not happen to everyone. If you are having pain, check with your health care provider who may suggest taking medications such as ibuprofen to help with the symptoms.

What if I have a discharge coming from my breasts?

A discharge from your breast(s) could mean that your breast(s) are infected, that a breast duct is dilated (widened), or that you have a hormone imbalance. The discharge may be on just one side or from both breasts. When a milky discharge comes from a young woman's breast when she is not breast feeding, it's called galactorrhea. This condition can result from taking certain medications such as birth control pills or anti-depressants, from being pregnant or recently being pregnant, low thyroid levels, or rarely from a small benign (not cancerous) pituitary tumor. Your body may be making extra amounts of prolactin, which can cause this white discharge from your nipples. A brown or bloody discharge may come from dilated breast duct or small polyps in the breast ducts. A small amount of yellow discharge sometimes occurs around the time a girl starts her period. Your health care provider should always check any breast discharge.

Lumps & Bumps back to top

Is it normal to have lumpy breasts?

Normal breasts can be smooth or lumpy. Most lumps are due to normal changes in breast tissue that occur during development. Your breasts may also feel different or lumpy around the time of your period. If you do notice that a new lump appears in your breast and does not disappear after your period, you should contact your health care provider.

What if I notice a new lump or something different about my breasts?

Most lumps or changes in your breasts that occur when you are a teen or young woman are due to normal changes in the breast tissue. If you find a lump it could be because of hormonal changes, a bump from an injury, a breast cyst filled with fluid from a blocked mammary gland (milk-producing gland), an infection, or a benign (not cancerous) tumor called a fibroadenoma. If the lump is sore or the skin over it is red, you may have an infection and you should contact your health care provider. If your breast just feels lumpy, check it again three to four days after your next period, since your breasts may feel different or lumpy to touch around the time of your period. If the lump does not disappear after you finish your period, see your health care provider. Your health care provider may order an ultrasound of your breast to figure out what kind of lump you have. If you have a fibroadenoma, your doctor will discuss whether it can just be regularly examined or if you need surgery to remove it.

What if I notice a hard lump and redness on my breast?

A hard lump and redness could mean you have a breast abscess, especially if you also have pain and a fever too. Although a breast abscess is more often a complication from breastfeeding, other things can cause an infection, such as shaving, tweezing, or plucking hairs around the nipple area; sexual play that causes trauma; or getting a cut on the breast. Abcesses can also occur because of a blocked duct during breast development or an infection caused by bacteria getting into the nipple. It is best to try to prevent a breast infection by avoiding things that could cause trauma or cuts to your breast(s). If you are breastfeeding, keep your nipples clean and dry.

If you think you or a friend might have a breast abscess, don't wait! Make an appointment to see your health care provider to start antibiotics right away.

What if I have a bump on my breast(s) from a sports injury or fall?

Treat your injury as you would treat any injury on any other part of your body. If the lump is sore and black and blue, it is probably from the injury. If you feel a lump but you don't remember injuring yourself, or if the lump is still present after a week, see your health care provider. But don't worry-there is no link between breast injury and breast cancer.

Self Breast Exam back to top

How do I take care of my breasts?

It's important to know how your breasts normally look and feel, so you'll be able to tell if there are changes later. You should start doing breast self-examinations once a month in your late teen years (18 to 20 years old). This will help you know your breasts. You will then be able to notice any new or different lumps. Remember, some lumps are normal, but if you are concerned, talk to your health care provider.

You should do breast self-exams at the same time every month. Right after your menstrual period ends is the best time. Another great time to do an examination is the day after you have seen your health care provider for a check-up, and he or she has said that your breasts are healthy. Then you'll know that all the "lumps" you feel in your breasts are just normal glands. Breast self-exams are a great way to keep track of the health of your breasts. Here's how to do a 3 part breast self-exam that takes only a few minutes.

Lying down:
self exam - woman lying down
self exam - diagram of circular and up-and-down motion
Before a Mirror:
self exam - woman in front of a mirror
In the Shower:
self exam - woman in shower

Your health care provider will perform a breast exam once a year. While you may find this a little embarrassing, a breast exam is an important way for your health care provider to learn what is normal for your breasts and to find any lumps that aren't normal.

Breast Cancer Risks back to top

Who is at risk for breast cancer?

Women with certain conditions, habits, or traits (referred to as "risk factors") may be more likely than other women to get cancer. However, having risk factors does not mean you will get breast cancer. Most women who develop breast cancer have no risk factors at all. But overall, you are at a higher risk for developing breast cancer if you:

How can I lower my risk for breast cancer?

You can lower your risk for breast cancer by not smoking, limiting alcohol, exercising regularly, following a healthy diet, and having regular checkups with your health care provider.

Do I need to have a mammogram?

Teenagers don't need to get mammograms. In fact, it's difficult to get a clear picture with a mammogram because young women have thick breast tissue. A mammogram is an x-ray of your breasts and most women start having mammograms when they are 40 years old. Mammograms are important for older women because they can help find breast cancer early. Some women younger than 40 years old have mammograms if they have a family history of breast cancer or if they have had radiation treatment for cancer.

Learning to care for your breasts when you're a teenager is an important way to make sure that your whole body stays healthy when you're older! Although breast cancer is very uncommon in women under the age of 35, if you become familiar with the normal look and feel of your breasts now, you will be taking an important step toward good general health for the future.

Glossary back to top

Areola: The skin around your nipple that is slightly darker in color than the rest of your breast.

Breast abscess: A breast abscess is an area of the breast that has become infected and filled with pus. A breast abscess looks like a hard breast lump that is red, tender, and painful. Often if a woman has a breast abscess, she has a fever and generally doesn't feel very well either. It is very important to be evaluated by a health care provider. Treatment usually includes antibiotics, warm soaks, and in severe cases, surgery to drain the abscess.

Breast cyst: a closed sac or pouch, sometimes found in the breast(s), that contains fluid (part liquid and part solid) or a solid material.

Breast duct: Breast tissue contains many milk ducts, which are small tubes used to transport fluids through the breast. When a woman is breast feeding, milk travels through the dilated (widened) milk ducts in her breasts and out through a small hole in her nipple.

Fibroadenoma: a non-cancerous lump commonly found in the breast(s), made up of fibrous tissue that can be as small as a pea or as large as a lemon. Fibroadenomas are generally found in teenagers and women in their early twenties, but they can occur at any age. In most cases, fibroadenomas do not need to be removed unless they are large, painful, or increasing in size. Usually they shrink on their own. Often, young women who have or have had fibroadenomas are advised by their doctor to have regular check-ups and an ultrasound when necessary.

Folliculitis: Folliculitis of the breast is an inflammation of the hair follicles around the nipple area. A hair root becomes infected, which can be a mild infection or a chronic problem. Usually tiny red bumps appear. The bumps are often itchy and can become filled with pus. If the condition lasts for more than a few days, see your health care provider. Treatment usually includes warm soaks and often an oral antibiotic or ointment.

Galactorrhea: a milky discharge from a woman's nipple other than breast milk. This can be caused by high levels of the hormone prolactin.

Gland: an organ in the body that releases a fluid that is used by the body at another location.

Hereditary: usually refers to a disease or characteristic that more than one family member or blood relative has. Eye color, height, and weight are some hereditary traits that you can inherit from family members.

Hormone: a chemical messenger that is released by an organ or gland and sent through the bloodstream to another part of the body.

Hormone imbalance: a condition that occurs when someone has either too much or too little of certain hormones.

Mammary gland: A mammary gland is a body part or structure that is found inside a woman's breast. Mammary glands are shaped like lobes. These glands have an important function when a woman breastfeeds her baby because they work to secrete breastmilk.

Menstruation: the monthly release of blood from a woman's uterus.

Prolactin: a hormone made by the pituitary gland that causes breast milk production.

Ultrasound: a way to take pictures of your breast tissue. Pictures produced using ultrasound are very similar to x-ray photographs. However, when ultrasound is used, the images are produced using sound waves instead of x-rays. Ultrasound is a good way to examine breast lumps.

Yeast infection: an infection that is caused by the overgrowth of a fungus, which can cause a rash under your breast(s).

Buying a Bra back to top

What should I know before I buy a bra?

A bra supports your breasts. While some girls don't wear one, others like to wear them, especially when they play sports. All bras are shaped to fit around both your chest and your breasts. Some bras are sized small, medium, or large. Bras sized this way fit snugly but comfortably. Many sport bras are sized this way. More fitted bras have both a breast cup size-from AA (smallest) to EE (largest)-and a chest size-from about 30 inches to 40 inches (this is the number of inches around your chest at the fullest part of your bust).

You or a clerk at the store can measure you for the right size bra. You should try on many bras to find the most comfortable size and style.

Measuring for a Bra back to top

Why do I need to measure for a bra…and how do I do it?

If you're ready to buy your first bra or your breast size has changed, you may be wondering what size to buy. This can be tricky unless you do your homework first. This guide will help you measure for the size you will need (Chest Size and Cup Size). This will be important when buying your bra as well as other clothing that uses bra or cup measurements such as bathing suits. Of course, trying on bras is always necessary, since different brands and styles fit differently.

Figuring out your Bra size:

If you are about to buy your first bra, it's best to go to a department store that has a special department that sells bras and underwear. This department is usually called the "lingerie department." Ask to be fitted by a "lingerie specialist" (a professional who has special training in fitting bras). There is no charge for this service and having it done by a professional will make sure that your bra fits correctly. You will still need to try on different styles in the size that's right for you because not all bras fit the same way. By doing this, you will find the bra that feels the best and also looks the best under your clothes.

figure of girl with bustline and chest measurement instructions

If you decide you would feel more comfortable figuring out your bra size at home, the following information will guide you through the steps of measuring yourself.

Chest Size:

Place a cloth measuring tape under your breasts. Wrap the tape around your chest so the tape measure meets the beginning part of the tape. When you have the measurement number, add 5 inches.

For example: your measurement around your chest is: 27"
  + 5"
This means that your Chest Size is 32.  

If your measurement ends up to be an ODD number, you will need to go up to the next EVEN number to figure out your size.

For example: your measurement around your chest is: 28"
  + 5"
This means that your Chest Size is 34.  

Cup Size:

Next, you will measure around your chest at the largest or fullest part of your breasts, called your "bustline." You need to measure with your arms straight down, so ask someone you feel comfortable with to help you (like your mom, sister, or friend).

Your Bustline Measurement will be higher than your chest ("under the breast") measurement. Your Cup Size is the difference between your Chest Size and your Bustline Measurement.

For example: Your Chest Size is 32" (27" + 5").
Your Bust Measurement at the fullest part of your bust is 34.
The difference is 2 inches.
In this case, your Cup Size would be a "B cup"


Guide to Figuring out Bra Cup Size
Cup Size Difference
AA Cup ½ inch
A Cup 1 inch
B Cup 2 inch
C Cup 3 inch
D Cup 4 inch

Updated: 6/28/06

PDF icon printer-friendly PDF
(requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Related Information:

Breast Health A Guide for Teens


Breast development during pregnancy

Breasts grow in size considerably during pregnancy because of further growth of the milk ducts and milk producing glands.  Teenagers breasts are mostly fat, but during pregnancy that fat gradually disappears and gives space for the milk-producing system.

Also the areola enlargens and becomes darker, as if really pointing out where the 'nutrition center' (nipple) is.  Thus the breasts will be fully mature and ready for their job, producing milk for the child.

Changes during menopause

In menopause, the milk producing system - ducts and milk glands - shrink, and are replaced by fat.  That makes the breasts softer.  Also the connective tissue loses strength, which makes the breasts sag more.


Teens worry if their breasts are normal

As the following comments sent to this website show, teenagers do worry a lot about their breast size/shape/development, and many teen girls wish for bigger breasts:

wVisitor comments:

"hii..i am 15yrs old .. my breast has started growing but not like my other friends.can you plz give me a solution to make it bigger."


"i feel that the size of my breasts are too big which gives me a bad figure what should i do to reduce it.My age is 20,what should i do?"

"thanx for your site i'm 10 years old and i thought i had normal breasts but all the other girls make fun of me. only one other girl has breasts but not like me. they say my breasts are to big for me (i'm 4'8 and 84 pounds) and now i wear sweaters alot to hide it. when is the normal age to have breasts and will they get smaller again? i like your site but i dont see any pics of women that look like me :'("

"thank you so much. i was very concerned about my developemend. but i am still unsure, i am 16 years old and one of my breasts is larger than the other one. is this normal?"

"My niece is 9 and only one of her breast is starting to develop. Is this normal or should both start developing at the same time. My sister is a little concerned that it might be som type of deformity. Can you give me any answers? Thank you."

"I'm a 16 year old who is still in high school. I was embarassed all the time because I have small breasts. It runs in my family, and all my friends have large breasts. I was afraid to wear bathing suits, dresses, tank tops, and pretty much and cute shirt. But because of this site I have a new confidence in myself. I play volleyball, soccer, surf, snowboard, and love dancing. But my small breasts held me back, and yes I did think ALL THE TIME about getting implants. All the girls on my teams had nice large breasts and they bragged about them and showed them off in revealing shirts. Now that I really think about it, it is the people who mark you for your breast size who need to grow up. THANKS!

First of all, it is very normal and usual for one breast to bud before the other, or the breasts to develop at different rate so that they are lopsided for a while.  They usually even out eventually for the most part so that the uneven sizes are not real noticeable.  However, a big portion of adult women do have different size breasts, usually one is just slightly bigger than the other, or maybe has a different shape.

Secondly, many teenagers get concerned when they see their friends' breasts growing and theirs are not.  There is usually absolutely NO REASON TO WORRY because the timing varies greatly from girl to girl.  Some start developing breasts as early as 8 years old, some as late as 18, though in most girls the breasts start budding between 9 and 12 years.  In any case, your breasts WILL develop in time for their purpose of feeding your baby!

"I'm scared my boobs are tubular or whatever. They dont really look like the boobs you have in the picture you have of tubular breasts, but the nipples on mine are really weird. like they form a second little mound. its really hard to tell though, cause my boobs are a 32a so they're incredibly puny which makes me depressed but anyway, when they're erect they look normal but when they're not they look weird.

"my breasts are kinda small..but are starting to take a round shape..however they are still pointier than those of my nipples are always seem to be puffy and look like the photos form "mound on mound stage of puberty.." but im 17 and ...have had my period for a long timem...i don think it is puberty.... they are always puffy and swollen looking one big mound rather than that of a nipple and its areola...any ideas?"

These are describing a certain stage of breast development, 'mound on mound' look. Development should continue from this so the breast takes on a rounder shape. When the nipple is not erect, it's called a flat nipple. That is fairly common and more so among teenagers. Nothing to worry about. Most flat nipples start sticking out during pregnancy. See also the links on our nipples page.

"I'm 13 and in my school girls have big breasts and it seemes that im the only one flat chested. People say that i still hae time to grow. And this site has helped me see that I do have time to grow."

"Wow- this site sure helped me feel a bit better and more informed!
I am 18 and never really had any breasts. All the fat cells that I would love to have in the right place went to the hips and butt.
But you helped me realize that medium big and perky just isn't the norm."

In fact, you might be lucky if you develop later!  It used to be that the average age of beginning of menstruation (menarche) in the 1800s was 16-17 years, whereas now it is between 12-13 years.  So girls are maturing much earlier than they used to.  Something in modern life has made this change, and probably the girls in ages past were better off.  It is easier to deal with the raging hormones and other changes of puberty when your mind has had time to develop.

We also get lots of requests for help from girls who have A-cup size breasts:

"im 12 and i had my period i think as 11 yrs. old my breast are hard around the nipple and are a 32a barilly what can i do to make them bigger everyone else has bigger ones my cousin is 2 months young than me and she is an 36a no problem im scared because im small still and she young but bigger breast pplease help me !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! im inbarressed to wear a bathing suit i weigh 101 and i dont know what i can do to make them bigger!!!! please help me asap!!!!!!!!!!!"

"I am 14 yrs. old and had just gotton my period 2 months ago. I have gotton signs of puberty such as pubic hair, growth spert (im 5'9"), and mild acne. The only thing is my breasts DON'T GROW!!!!! I barely fit into a 32A!!!! I heard that you should look at your relatives but it's confusing. My mom and oldest sister are C's, my 2nd oldest sister in a DD, and my aunt is an A!!!!! I am so confused! Puberty seems like it is working except it is skipping the breast stage! Will my breasts get bigger and how much longer do I have until they stop growing? PLEASE HELP!!!! Katie

i'm a 32a and i got my period back in 7th grade (i'm going into 10th now) and im sick of it. my boobs are all pointy but round underneath. its weird, and the nipples are puffy and they make this little mound above my boob except when its cold then they look normal. i got these sports bra tops from target the other day and i dont even fill those out...and it was a size small for crying out loud!!! i really want breast implants and it doesnt matter if it messes up my breastfeeding things or whatever because guys hate me and they'll never talk to me much less get me pregnant or marry me or even like me. they hate me. i just want some self esteem with having bigger boobs. not to impress guys since they hate me and never want to talk to me. so do you have any tips on how to make boobs bigger or something before i go all the way and have surgery.

(Actually those puffy nipples that look 'normal' in the cold are flat nipples that become erect when cold... that is normal.)

Since these girls have gotten their period already, it sounds like they are going to be small-breasted as adults. Or, if they are skinny, they may get somewhat fuller and rounder breasts later when they gain a little weight. But why is it such a catastrophy to have an A-cup as breast size? It is normal, many women have it (otherwise we wouldn't get so many emails about this very situation). It only seems distressing when the media has brainwashed us into believing that "breasts make a woman" or that breast size is the main thing that makes a girl attractive to guys.

Not so. While guys usually do want to see breasts - they are often just plain curious about it, since they are kept so well hidden from their view - they are far less concerned about breast size than girls and women are! Remember, what makes a woman attractive is her general appearance, behavior, personality, attitudes, sense of humor... and that can include a lot of variety in the actual physical attributes. Read also What do guys really think of the size of girl's boobs? (that web page's discussion about Brava system is somewhat inaccurate, though. Please see BRAV-ARGH! before believing in BRAVA system.)

And if you're worried about clothes fitting - if you have some special occasion to wear some special dress for example - check this link about Small bust can be beautiful! - an example how a bra is used to create a fuller look.

And next, if you have large breasts, it is very normal that they start 'sagging' or drooping some already during your teen years.  It is a natural process that happens to everybody at some point, and there really isn't anything you can do to prevent it - for example bras won't keep breasts from sagging (except while you wear them).  Below you can see what comments some teens have left on our breast gallery page about this fact.  If you're teen and have sagging breasts, you are NOT alone!

I normally thought I was abnormal as at the age of sixteen I have sagging breats. But now I know that I am normal.
thank u
pooh bear

Is there anyway that you can prevent your boobs from sagging when your around 13

I'm 18 and my breasts are already pretty saggy. They resemble the breasts of a 40 year old mother of two. Although, I appreciated seeing normal breasts, I was wondering if it is common to have overly saggy breast at this young an age?

i have a question, i'm 15 years old and i'm at a D bra now and my breast without my bra are sagging or i think they are sagging. how do i know if they are sagging when they are so big and what can i do about it?

I am only 16 but I worry about my breasts. I have natural size c-cup breasts and I have worries that are are too big, already. My breasts have already began to sag and it worries me but I'm beginning to see that breasts of all sizes are normal and this site has helped me to see this.

Thank you. Until I saw this website I was convinced that my saggy, lopsided breasts were absolutely abnormal and hideously ugly. Working on a college campus, I'm surrounded by the perky breasts of girls in their late teens and early 20's and this has distorted my perception of "normal." Growing up overweight, my breasts developed (and began to sag) earlier than most. I never experienced "perky", or at least was too young and asexual at that point to enjoy them. Thank you for helping me understand and appreciate my body for what it is. :o)

I think this web site is great, i am 19 and being a 32H they are sagging a bit and thought i was too young for this to start happening to me, but seeing these picutres of other people it has made me feel alot better about my self, thank you.

Sometimes you may think you have sagging breasts when in reality you really don't, or it is very minimal. You can read What causes sagging breasts? to find out more about droopy breasts.

Breast size

Breast size is determined by your genes. You can look to your mom and other female relatives and get somewhat of an idea of what your breast size might end up being, though this is NOT a guarantee.

Another factor in breast size is how skinny/fat you are. As mentioned already, breasts have a lot of fat in them. The skinnier you are, the less fat your breasts contain and smaller they are. When you gain weight (or fat) in general, some of that fat will get deposited in your breasts, so that is why obese people will have bigger breasts. And if you lose weight (fat) from your body, some of that fat will be lost from your breasts, too. This explains why athletic girls often have small breasts - their body's fat content is fairly small. The same is of course true for anorexic girls.

Unfortunately, when you lose weight and your breasts will be smaller, they often end up sagging more, as the skin is already streched but now there is less 'stuff' to fill it. There is no sure way to prevent this but try studying into which nutrients best preserve skin elasticity.

Exercise won't make breasts bigger because breasts don't have any muscles. Nor will sleeping position, wearing bras or not wearing them, milk or any other foods - but of course it is important to eat a healthy diet so your body can develop as it is supposed to.

There are no reliable means of increasing your breast size other than breast implants.  But you should know those carry with them very serious health risks.

Some girls end up being flat-chested - for reasons we do not know. Flat-chested girls lack the fat in breasts but they have the milk producing system in there and can breastfeed. Please read our page about being flat-chested to learn more. Being flat-chested doesn't mean you have to get worried - but if you don't get your period by age 15, that is a sign of delayed puberty.

Read also our breast questions page fo r more details and links about what affects breast size and about herbal breast enhancement pills.

We hope knowing these facts will ease your mind off from worrying.  You may have heard or read these same facts about breast development elsewhere, too.  They are commonly known and commonly noted.  So the chances are you are developing just normally and there's no reason to be concerned.

this is such a good site. it has made me feel so much better. i used to think i was abnormal. now i know... i'm normal :)
a teenager

I am 21 years old and ever since my teens I have thought my breasts were ugly and deformed. I have recently tried to commit suicide and as a result was a patient in a mental health ward, all due to the way I perceive my breasts. This site has helped me to understand that I am a normal woman. I hope it will stop other women from suffering the way I have over the years.


Anorexia and breasts

Anorexia, bulimia, or severe dieting will cause the fat to disappear from breasts, and that is why breasts of an anorexic girl will look very small, or shrunken.

When such a girl is recovering and gaining weight again, fat gets deposited back to the breasts. However, it won't always be the same amount of fat as was there before.

The milk ducts and glands shouldn't be affected - if they had already developed! But if anorexia hits while the breasts are growing ducts and glands, then that development will stop since the starved body will stop producing hormones that drive that growth.

With anorexia, it is hard to say how things will go afterwards. Most girls become fertile again and resume menstruation, or continue their pubertal development if it wasn't finished, but some girls never gain their menstruation and fertility back even after recovery.

The following letters show how after anorexia, breasts won't necessarily be the same size as before:

Hi. I stared my period when I was 9 years old. Sadly, during 8th grade, I was anorexic and lost my breast fat. I am not anorexic anymore and am healthy so my breasts grew back. I am worried that I won't grow big as they are supposed to grow. Right now, the size of my breasts are the same size when I was in 7th grade...

I am an 18 year old female I just turned 18 about 4 mnths ago and I got my period when I was 14 , but then when I was about 16 years old I was anorexic for about a year, then I lost all the breat tissue I had and now I'm back to being healthy but I'm a 32 B , Is there anyway my breasts will still grow? My mom and every woman in my family had a 36B or bigger breasts, yet somehow I don't think mine will grow or they are taking long, or do you think my anorexia a while back had an effect on their growth?

hello! I'm 15 years old, and i'm really worried about my breasts. I started my period at age 9 and by that time my breasts were developing and also pubic hair. However pple teased me because i was overweight and i got depression and i felt very bad about myself. So by the time i got to middle school i decided to stop eating. At the time i was about 13 almost 14. I wouldn't eat much for a time then i stopped and only drank water. I was afraid to eat and I became anorexic.I would read the food labels and keep note of how many calories i consumed. I quit that after i began to feel numb and nearly had a heart attack and had to go to the hospital twice. Now i'm eating better and i feel better. Except, i don't know if not eating well for half a year could have affected my breasts and i'm worried that they won't grow anymore. I'm a 32A . When i had anorexia, my period did stop. But now that i started to eat again, it's back again.It's been about 8 months now that i have gotten my period. Will my breast continue to grow, or am I done? please help me i would really like to know.

When I was 14 I became anorexic. The anorexia stopped when I was 17. I noticed that my breast size went from a 34C to a 32A. I'm now 19 and am now at the high end of normal weight. However, I have a problem which is that the weight has gone to my bum, and not back to my breasts. Why are my breasts not growing back? and what can I do in order to help them get back the way they were. I don't want to put on any more weight as i'm at the high end of my normal weight range; any more and i'll become obesse.

Mostly this difference compared to earlier breast size would be because the breasts now have less fat. Unfortunately, it's hard to tell if the breasts will gain their previous size, or not, and if the duct and gland development was completed. However, if and when these girls get pregnant, the breast development during pregnancy will quite likely be normal.

If you have a story to tell about this, or have more information on how breasts are affected by eating disorders, please click here - scroll down to fill the form.

Why do teenagers worry so much about breasts?

But it might be worth your while still consider this one thing: WHY is it that teenage girls worry so extremely about their breasts?  Is it just normal human nature?  Do you worry equally much about the shape of your lips or eyes?  Usually not.  So something else enters the picture.

The culture that surrouds you - especially magazines, TV, music videos, internet - has influenced your (and your friends' and your parents') thinking.  The media images leave the impression that normal kind of breasts are fairly big and perky with small areola - the ones you see supermodels have. But remember that those photos in magazines are retouched - THE PHOTOS ARE NOT REAL!

Hollywood has promoted a "big breast" image to the modern world - BUT it was also Hollywood that in the 1920s was promoting the flat-chested look.  Women in that time tried to bind their breasts to make them look smaller.

So what you see in media does NOT reflect the reality of women's breasts!  Female breast is the one body part that varies most of any body parts in size and shape.  You can be smarter than to fall into this trap and think for yourself!  There is NO precise rule as to what is "normal" when it comes to breasts.

The North American culture also makes breasts to be primarily a sexual body part, and does not emphasize their feeding function.  Remember, breasts are for breastfeeding, and when the time comes, your baby will LOVE your milk and the closeness of being held next to mom's bosom no matter what size or shape your breasts or areola or nipple are.

The best thing to do is just try to learn to be GLAD YOU ARE YOU, instead of trying to copy other people.  When/if the time comes that you find yourself a husband someday, he will hopefully fall for YOU - and not some Hollywood stereotype!!!!!!!!

im 15 years old and i already have incredibly saggy breasts. i reckon its due to large fluctuation in my weight over the last 6 years, cause i used to be fat and have FF cups, now i'm a D cup.
i feel so ugly and awful naked!

and all my other friends have perfect boobs cause ive seen them and they are all starting to have relationships with boys
but i cant! because im getting so held back by my breasts!

if i did show them to boys, they would either laugh in my face, or be disgusted and puke! cause i know i was if i was a boy, i would.

so i'm at the stage now thinking, should i just show them to this boy that i'm seeing? or should i forget all about him and stay away from relationships altogether because if he saw them he wouldnt like me anymore

and maybe everbody would find out and i'd get teased by everybody! :'-(

and i know that advice would probbly, be to wait for ther right person to love you for who you are, but face it! at 15 years old, no-ones gonna want a girl with the breast of 60 year old! :( !

i just dont know what to do!

obviously i would like to have surgery as soon as possible, but i dont know anything about the costs or age limits!

please help me, im really desperate :(


Hello there,

It sounds to me that you are a victim of two things:
a) peer pressure, and
b) magazine/media influence.

Those two things often take over control in young people's lives, and young people therefore stop thinking for themselves.

Consider! Isn't life more than sex?

What could you do with your life that is worth something to others? Imagine that suddenly there was no more school and you wouldn't see your classmates anymore. What would you start doing or learning? Think about it.

When you encounter a true love in your life, then these sort of things get forgotten; they won't matter. And you can feel being loved, being accepted as you are.

On surgery stuff, please check links at the bottom of this article.

Other people's comments

Disclaimer: Information here is not medical advice. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease, nor to replace the advice you could get from a health professional. If you are in doubt, please see a doctor (or several). So if you're in doubt, and especially if you have some other symptoms, please see a doctor.

The following comments are from various visitors to, and may or may not agree with the viewpoints presented on this website. The comments are posted here because they might further help and encourage men and women who visit this website; however 007 Breasts is not responsible for this content or any loss/damage caused by reading these.

my breasts were really small untill this past year. i am 14 and i have 32c's. last year i was a not even a, but you young girls need to know that just cuase your small now doesn't mean you are always going to be that way. you have support from me and just so you know you are beautiful without big breasts!


I am an 18 year old female with asymmetrical breasts. I don't mind that my breasts are small, and I don't mind that they are uneven. However, I have become very insecure with my body because my breasts do not look like fully developed breasts. My areola is very large and it protrudes away from my chest. It basically looks like I have small mounds. There is little or no breast development around my areola. I don't know if this makes sense. But I don't know how else to describe my breasts. Do you think I am a late bloomer? My breasts look like they just stopped developing before it ever got the chance to finish. They have looked like this for about 5 years and I also got my period when I was 12. Do you think my breasts will continue to develop or am I stuck with my little uneven nubs?

It sounds like all is well and normal.

Your breasts probably developed just fine and finished developing back years ago. This 'mound' thing is very common and normal, nothing to worry about. I'm guessing your nipples are flat. Go look at the pics on our gallery page and see the VARIETY. Maybe yours are the size of someone else there, and have nipples that look like somebody's nipples there. Don't worry. All it is, is the media images make us think that breasts are supposed to look 'this' way, whereas in reality there is a LOT of variation.

I'm thirteen and I was afraid my breasts were deformed.... I thought they were small, but besides that, well let's just say there was some hair there. Thanks to your site, I've learned that a few hairs were ok. I feel so much more confident about my breasts too. I mean, I'm not scared or afraid of them being small or my friends laughing at them. I'm not very tall (4'11") plus I'm not done growing yet, so I know my breasts will mature as I do. I can't thank you enough!

I'm an 18-year-old with small, sagging breasts and large areolas, and I always thought that there was something wrong with my breasts sagging so early in my life. I never seemed to match what the media told me was "normal" for girls my age and even women older than me. We girls get few chances to see what other girls' breasts look like (in normal settings), so we have to see what is normal for women with what is available - super-models and actresses, which can foster the belief that that there is something wrong with girls like me. So, thank you again for having your site, with pictures, so that I now know that there is nothing wrong with my breasts. This had greatly boosted my self-confidence, so, thanks again!

I was feeling really low about my breasts and my body image, i had lost a lot of weight and i was more miserable then ever because of my breasts. I had always had this vision growing up and having a perfect little body like my mother enjoyed in her youth or having perky breast like my friends, but when i looked at my own, i thought something had gone terribly wrong. Since the only breast i'd ever seen were those of my young friends, i had no idea, until i saw your web-site that i am perfectly normal. I have a much more possitive body image now, and even though my breasts may be bigger and sagging for someone of a young age, they are mine, given to me to feed an nuture my children and i won't trade them.

Thanks a lot!!!! I'm 13 years old and I'm a 34A. My breasts are starting to get rounder but are still a bit pointy. I was really worried that the *pointyness* wasn't normal until I found your site and started reading. Now I know that it is normal and know that they will continue to get fuller and rounder!! Thx again!!!
Keep up the good work.


Hi there!
I am a 21 year old female with 32D breasts (sounds big but they're not, really) and large areolas, I'm only 5'2" and I have an hourglass figure. I also have a strong upper body because I'm a glassblower (the amount of jokes I've heard about that. All from men. Funny that.). I went to the gym once to see what the fuss was about and HATED it so I never went back. I do not count calories and I do not do fad diets! I love curvy women and think that skinny women need a cheeseburger.

When I read some of the problems some girls - particularly young teenagers - have about their breasts it made me so sad I felt compelled to write you a story:

I had never been embarrassed about my body: I always believed the human body is a beautiful thing. After I split with my first love (because of distance) when I was 18 I went out with this guy as a rebound who turned out to be a complete punk. He put me down in anything I did and the most horrible thing he said to me was my breasts were ugly, that my nipples were too big and my actual breasts were a horrible shape. I won't even tell you what else he said about the rest of my body. Anyway after I got rid of that guy I met someone else, a friend I had known for a long time. I told him what that guy had said to me and he looked puzzled.What he said next made me cry:

He told me I was a goddess, that I had the most perfect body he had ever seen and my breasts were amazing. After that my confidence came back and I just soared. Now I have no inhibitions about nudity: I've got what I've got and I have a man I love that thinks I'm the most beautiful woman in the world.

What I'm trying to say is that as long as you have confidence, anything you do is beautiful. Never EVER think you're not beautiful and NEVER let anyone tell you otherwise. Anyone who tries to belittle the way you look are just taking their own insecurities out on you. Give them a slap and tell them to grow up and deal with it. That's what I did - literally! ;)

I hope this helps. Thank you for such a great site!

Kira x x

hey, im 14 and my breasts are diffrernt sizes. i would understand if they were not obvious but they is like a 34b and the other a 32c i am really worried. will they grow to be the same? shall i change my diet to help the other one grow? please help me!

I understand you can feel worried with your situation. I really don't know if they will grow to be the same or not. Only time will tell. They may end up being about how they are now - it just happens to some women. Or, the difference may even out somewhat but not completely.

Diet will not help, because anything you'd try do, would affect the other breast also. Plus, there really isn't much you could do anyway, as far as diet goes.

You can study into gel inserts people put into bras if you wish to hide this from others. But, it's best for your OWN mental health if you can accept your body as it is - I'm afraid the situation with your breasts will not go away completely. Why feel unhappy about it? It's your life, your body. You will feel better if you accept the situation even if you don't "like" it - see most of us have something about our body we don't like. Live your life, be happy about other things, and try not think too much about this one thing.

Thank you for such a wonderful site! The pictures are good to see, but for me it was wonderful to read the comments, to know that there are so many other women like me with a deep, painful insecurity about their breasts but who are still strong enough not to go through surgery. I have always been a 34AA (training bra size) and am now 20 years old. I spent my entire teenage years waiting for my breasts to grow, wishing and crying and thinking I was ugly or unwomanly. To all you young girls out there who have gone through this or are going through it now, you are beautiful in so many ways, and no guy who wants a girl for her boobs, or who complains about your chest size, is EVER worth it. I am now going out with a wonderful, attractive man, and my small chest does not bother him. And once guys and girls get past their hormone driven immaturity, there are few people who judge you on the size of your chest, and those who do are still not worth your time.


help i'm 14 i'm only 8 stone and slim, i'm a dancer and very fit but i'm coming up with stretch marks all over my bum and thighs, i have put on a stone within the last year could this be why? what shall i do i'm so self concoius about it

i just notieced stretch marks on my boobs... im a 34B.... 16 yrs old.... they have [not] "grown" suddenly, nor have i been pregnant/gained a great deal of weight suddenly..... great nutrition as well... so whats the deal!? how can i make them go away??? katie

Hi Katie, I'm not sure why the stretch marks have come. Please bear in mind that the tendency to get stretch marks is largely hereditary, though diet plays a role too. Also people with dry skin get them easier. Stretch marks typically appear if the skin stretches in short period of time, like during rapid growth. Once you get them, they don't go away but they do fade a lot over time and can become practically invisible in untanned skin. Please read also the page Picture of stretch marks on breasts & links to other resources.



If you mean bumps on the skin of your breasts, those are no different than bumps on skin in other parts of your body. Good diet with antioxidants and good fats and avoidance of junk food and trans fats might help. But if you mean 'bumps' on your areola, those are called Montgomery glands, and they produce a special oil that lubricates the nipple/areola complex. Montgomery glands will become even more visible during pregnancy. You certainly need them and wouldn't want to get rid of them!

I had my son at 18 and even though all the young moms I knew formula feed I was determined to never have a bottle touch my son's lips.
When my son was born he was small and didn't take to the breast that easily, everyone for the exception of my husband wanted me to give up and formula feed. But it was my strong will that made it happen and now my son is 2 years old and loves his boo-boos as he so calls them.
I never once had complications with my breast and I must admit now that he is weaning away from them I begin to miss that comfortable feeling of having him on them.
It is amazing on the strong bond you feel when nurishing your child, I wouldn't trade it for the world and I know for a fact any other children I have will always be breastfeed.


is it alright to wear a bra to bed? I dont want to make my breasts smaller because there already small but what exercises should i avoid so my boobs dont get smaller? oh yeah does sleeping on your stomach or with a bra make your boobs bigger?

my friend stuffs her bra and i was wondering does that slow down or stop her breast from growing? really important!

hi ! i'm 19 and i'm really worried about my breast size they are one cup and i don't know what to do! i really have lost my confidence in myself i'm a nervous person and always sad because of this!!! is it true if a girl doesn't wear a bra then the breasts grow better or bigger? or when wearing bra while sleeping will increaze their size??? is all that true? please help me! do you think am normal so? am i attractive this way?? and what kind of food will maybe increase their size or be good to breast ??? there must be some food, please name some.

These are just myths. Exercising or not should not make any difference in breast size or development. Of course it is good to exercise for your general health's sake. You can sleep whatever way is comfortable to you.

Bra wearing or not also should not affect breast development at all, or stuffing your bra or not. Now, it is good not to wear a bra to bed and at home so that your breasts will get some free time so the lymph can flow freely within the breasts. If you wear bras, they should not be tight anywhere, and you should preferaly get them fitted with a professional.

In general, you should eat a healthy diet and avoid junk foods so your body has all the building blocks it needs for its development, but otherwise normal foods or normal eating doesn't affect breast development. It is determined by your genes. See also the answer about milk and breast growth.

Cup size one (or size A) is just fine and normal! Your breasts are fine and there's NOTHING wrong with them. Some women have cup size A, some have B, some have C, some have D. Breasts come in all different sizes, just like some people are tall and some are short. The final breast size is determined by your genes and there's nothing you can do about it. And, breasts of all sizes produce milk!

Every girl can be attractive - regardless of breast size. Attractiveness has a lot to do about being happy and joyful, helpful, showing positive attitudes to others. It's that kind of persons that other people like to be around. And many men actually think small-breasted women are attractive. But if a man ONLY likes you because of your breast size (small or big), and doesn't really care about YOU, what you are inside, then he's not worth it - and is likely to dump you oh so soon when something changes about your breasts (like during pregnancy).

hi my name is kaitlyn and I have a question! I was wondering if it is normal that I have basically no breasts (size AA34). I am 13 years old and have not started my period yet. I was wondering how long it would take for them to grow and how much time I have left! My mom is kinda overweight and I only weigh 70 pounds. I dont think that I will look a thing like my mom I am really skinny and short (4'6"). I get really embarassed about my breats and wearing a swimming suit because everyone makes fun of me. I really like this site!! Thank you!


It can be normal that you don't have any breasts yet. Breast growth can take 5 years or longer total, and the development continues for several years AFTER you start your period. You don't mention if you have any signs of puberty (pubic hair or breast buds). It sounds like you haven't yet started the puberty growth spurt though. It is recommended to see a doctor if a girl doesn't have ANY signs of puberty by 14 years. See also Puberty - What happens When?.

im 13 years old and my breasts are 38 inches. they are much bigger than my sisters and she is 16. im afraid they are going to get too big and are going to sag A LOT when im older.


I want to know about most girls my age. I am gonna be 12 in september... School is going to start, and I already know the girls are going to have breasts. Not me... I feel left out, I get asked out by boys, lol, but I get told ALL the time about breasts. Everytime one of my friends that I hanged out with last year, and on and off this year, they talk about that.

Girls vary a lot as to when their breasts develop. You are not behind in development because NOT everyone develops at the same time. There is a variation: some start early, some later, some in between and everyone is developing in their own time. It depends on your genes and you cannot change it. You may time your development somewhat by asking when your mom started breast development and when she had her first menstrual period. Typically girls develop in the same age range as their mom or a little earlier.

You didn't mention if you have pubic hair or if your breast development has already started. These are the first signs of puberty. Puberty in girls typically starts anywhere between 9 and 13 years of age.

The breast deveopment starts with a 'bud' stage, which is that your nipples are enlarged or 'swollen' and there is a small elevation of the breast from the surrounding skin. Breast development typically takes 4-5 years or even more. see also Budding Breasts in Females

So don't worry about your development as compared to others - it will happen in its time whether you worry or not.



Yes, itching is usually a sign of skin streching, so sounds like your breasts are starting to develop. Just eat healthy foods (unless allergic) like whole grains, vegetables, some omega-3 fats, fish, low-fat meat, eggs, fruits, nuts, olive oil, and other natural foods, and avoid candy, pop, french fries and other junk food, and refined foods like sugar and white bread and margarine, and processed ready-made foods, so you will have plenty of good nutrients as the 'building blocks' for your body, and wait.
I cannot tell if your weight is a problem, but if you think so, you could see a nutritionist. But please do not try to increase your weight with junk food or sugary foods; those foods will lack minerals and vitamins, and have instead harmful substances in them.

i'm 16 and my breasts are really flat not even the size of 32 a.. can i use any method lk drinking papaya milk shake can make my breast bigger.. i heard ppl say 16 is the last stage...

No, you can't make your breasts bigger with any specific foods. But it is important to eat a healthy, balanced diet, and avoid sugar and junk foods, so your body will have all the nutrients it needs when it's growing.

well i am 13 and i have a little breast and i want to know well they grow over the summer or during the summer

Your breasts are probably still developing and will probably grow with time.

I know I'm only fourteen years old and all but are my breasts going to get any bigger? I wear a 34A but I also haven't started my period yet and I stopped growing in height as much as I used to. Is this normal? Have my breasts stopped grwoing for good?

if you haven't started your period yet, then your breasts will still develop for several years from now.

Hi I'm 15 years old, my boobs are not very big at all and I was getting really worried, but when I came to this page I started feeling much better. I went to this one site that said that you should have your adult breast by 15, and it had me really freaked out cause mine ain't big right now. But it says on here that the normal age is between 16-17 and I really hope it's right. (but I think it is). I am just slow thats all. And all the things I have read on here about sagging, I am sort of glad I ain't getting them fast. So I am really just giving a thank you to this site
bye bye


hi my name is steph and i've looked through your site and i haven't been able to find the information to stop me from worrying about my breasts. this is probably like most questions you get and i don't know if you'll be able to help me or not...

lately i have been worrying a lot about the rate of development of my breasts, i have very large swollen areola areas that have been this size for about a year. i am getting worried that no fat will start to build up around this area nd my breats will stay this shape, the picture of the tubular hypoplastic breats look a lot like mine. i am 15 years old and i have had my period for 2-3 years, as well as pubic hair, only my breasts haven't developed at all. it's stupid that i'm feeling quite depressed about this, i know, but seeing girls much younger than me with fully developed breasts makes me feel like a child, and i hate not being able to fill out any bra properly or not being able to wear certain clothing. i am too embarassed to ask my mum when she started develping, and i am not close enough to any other female family members to ask them. please can you reassure me that my breasts will start to fill out soon, otherwise i will seriously consider plastic surgery.

If I understood you right, you said your breasts look a lot like the pic of tubular hypoplastic breasts. In other words you are not flat-chested but just would like your breasts to be rounder and fatter in shape, right?

Well, like mentioned many times on the site, many girls do get a 'rounder' and more feminine curvy look OVERALL, everywhere in their body, around their early 20s. So your breasts may round out at that time.

Clothing... Try dress up in clothing that de-emphasizes the chest area. That can still be stylish. You don't have to follow the latest trends in fashion to be stylish, do you? Find your own style! Like one woman commented on our page, she had found the flapper style from the 20s to suit her real well. And as you can imagine, flat-chested women can feel even more frustrated with bras and clothing in today's world. Not that it would need to be so- it is just that women feel pressured to dress as everybody else, or follow the same fashions everybody else instead of wearing what is comfortable and looks good on them. See Selecting fashions that present you at your best
SoYouWanna dress properly for your body type (for women)?

And if your breasts should stay that way.... Try to imagine what is the worst possible scenario for your life because of that. What would that cause? Is it going to keep you from college? Or from your favorite hobby? Or from getting a husband someday? Or from having children? Or from getting a job?

Your breasts per say won't do any of those things, but your mental attitude can have a devastating effect on your life. If the idea of plastic surgery soothes you, so to speak, go ahead and consider it as a (remote) possibility in your mind. You can't really get it done anyway till you're 18 or 20, depending on the surgeon's opinion. And in the meantime (you have three years till you hit 18, right?), try to live your life. You don't want to WASTE three full years of your life, right, thinking about your chest, when there are so many other, more important and more interesting things to do!


teenage girls breasts
One pair of teen breasts

Check also the article ONE SMALL STEP FOR TOPFREEDOM by a 14-year old girl.


Normal adult breast pictures
- see how varied they are!

woman's breasts that sag

immature breasts of young woman

mature breasts of woman

lactating breasts

breastfeeding woman's breasts

small breasts of young woman

breasts with stretch marks

flat chested woman

breasts with tanline

asymmetrical female breasts

sagging breasts

female breasts

See BREAST GALLERY for more breast pictures

This Spanish webpage has many breast pics of 19-year old girls:
Pautas Saludables para sus Mamas - Encuesta Fotográfica - 19 años


baby is ready for breastfeeding
An older baby is often distracted from nursing by whatever is going around her.

breastfeeding doll
Every girl should have a breastfeeding doll instead of them skinny barbies.

Nursing an 1-month old infant

breastfeeding after birth
This mom is nursing her newborn right after giving birth - just like all moms should!

nursing a baby
My small baby preferred to nurse sitting up.



How do boobs develop in a young girl?
The development of boobs in a young girl usually starts about a year before the beginning of the menstrual period as part of puberty, along with the first appearance of pubic hair. The whole development process spans several years, with a lot of individual variation. The main development stages are:
Stage 1: During childhood the breasts are flat.

Stage 2: Breast Bud Stage:
In this stage three main changes happen, all due to the early formation of milk ducts and fatty breast tissue:

  • the breast becomes ever so slightly raised (but still sometimes barely visible),
  • and the nipple becomes slightly puffy
  • the areola begins to enlarge.

Stage 3: There is further growth in this stage, beginning in a conical shape, later in a more and more round shape. It is during this stage that the areola begins to darken.

Stage 4:
The nipple and the areola now form a separate structure or secondary mound within the developing breast area, although not all girls go through this stage. A girl's period usually starts about two years after reaching this stage.

Stage 5:
The breast now completes its growth during puberty into a round shaped structure.

And breasts change in terms of both shape and composition over the years. The breast in a teen girl is usually hemispherical, rounded and equally full in all areas, but as a woman gets older, the topside of the breast tissue begins to settle to a lower position and the skin stretches and so the shape of the breast changes. Then after menopause, with it's decrease of hormonal activity, the composition itself of the breast changes: the amount of glandular tissue decreases and while fat and ductal tissue become the predominant components. Continued reduction in what's called glandular volume results in further looseness of the breast skin. But remember that at any stage, given widespread variability there is no single concept of a "normal" breast either in terms of size or shape: click here - Normal Breasts Photo Gallery - to see a gallery of normal breasts spanning every size and shape, courtesy of 007 Breasts (warning: candid images but not pornographic)..

For more information, check out the Breast Questions (to go straight there, click on the "Breast Questions" icon) section of the Cool Nurse site (to go to home page of Cool Nurse, click on Cool Nurse icon); this is an excellent site with authoritative health information, founded and run by Amy, an RN (Registered Nurse); also great sections on Gyn Stuff, and Teen Health Topics (for mature teens).

And for more information about girls and body image, also check out the section of links for Girls on the new, a smart new feminist resource directory, growing rapidly in size and scope (some content may be appropriate only for more mature teens).

Girlistic already includes links to three great resources:

(1) The nonprofit youth organization celebrating girlhood, Girls, Inc., with a discussion forum on Body Image.
(2) Teen Voices Online, the web edition of the national magazine publishing poems, stories, what teens really have to say; also includes some good Body Image resources for teens.
(3) New Moon Magazine, a multi-cultural magazine for girls ages 8-14: as they say "the magazine for every girl who wants her voice heard and her dreams taken serious", with poetry, fiction, letters, art, educational resources, and lots more.

Just three fab resources from; check back frequently to the site as they continue to add more great links.


How long does it usually take for your boobs to fully develop?
From the early breast bud stage (stage 2) until stage 5 typically takes about 3 - 5 years, but it may take take close to 10 years, and sometimes even more, in some girls - individual variation here is wide. And the beginning point is also variable, with some girls showing breast development as early as when 8 years old, with others starting as late as when 13 years old. (Since breast buds and pubic hair are the first signs of puberty, the general advice is that if these don't start to develop by age 14, a doctor showed be consulted). And although it is often said - without substantial scientific verification - that a young women's breast size is largely determined by age 19, there is so much variability here too that it is known that for some breasts continue to develop into the your 20's or 30's, changing in both size and shape, depending and a complex brew of genetics, hormonal levels and other body chemistries and other factors of maturation not wholly understood.

Why do teens worry so much about their boobs and body image?

Puberty and boobs: Teenage years, or puberty, is the time of many changes, and of course for girls, one of those changes, developing breasts, is one of the many stormy and dramatic - but wonderful - changes young girls go through in puberty, and because breasts and breast size are visible and easily noticeable under clothes and because of broad cultural emphasis by media along with the enhanced attention by teen boys, many teenage girls begin worrying about their breasts not developing early or fast enough, possibly compared with friends and possibly compared also with the idealized images seen in magazines, on TV, and in movies.

Up front about boobs: And unlike the development of pubic hair at puberty, boobs are "out there" for all to notice and sometimes remark on, not always with sensitivity to the feelings of the owner (there is a famous book by Meema Spadola entitled "Breasts: Our Most Public Private Parts). Sure, teen boys sometimes worry about the size and growth of their penises, but unlike boobs a penis is usually not as visible under at least everyday clothing, so teen boys tend not to have quite the same level of pressure and anxiety. Furthermore and perhaps unfortunately for girls, society often defines females as the "objects of desire" and so focuses more attention on female looks and anatomy. If you're thinking: not fair!, most health professionals would agree. Studies on body image have consistently found that boys are significantly less critical of their appearance than young girls/teens, and in one study, normal-weight girls expressed considerably more anxiety about their looks not only compared to normal-weight boys, but even compared to boys who were obese. So there is no doubt that society and other factors take far more of a toll with respect to body image on young girls than on young boys, and scientific studies confirm this. So, definitely, not fair!

A higher standard for females and boobs: In most societies, females young and older are judged on appearance far more than men, and standards of female beauty, attractiveness and sexuality are not only considerably higher but also far more inflexible. Females constantly are reminded by society of images of the "ideal" figure, and it is well-known that constant exposure to such idealized images of female beauty tend to make it appear that exceptional good are normal, so to fall short of such largely unattainable perfection may be considered abnormal. And since boobs are by and large the most visible "feminine" aspect of the female body, disproportionate attention to an idealized female figure often translates to disproportionate emphasis on boobs and their value in female beauty and sexuality.

Boob worry: Concern over body image can easily therefore become a source of anxiety and stress, with some girls feeling
embarrassed and uncomfortable during breast development, sometimes avoiding undressing in front of other girls or even their moms. Such concerns are however natural and in America a virtually unavoidable part of growing up female: there's probably a single American female living who hasn't worried about her appearance and attractiveness in general, and her boobs in particular. Again, studies confirm this: by age thirteen, 53 percent of American girls are unhappy with their bodies, but in worse, by age seventeen, 78 percent are dissatisfied - that's about 4 out of every five girls! And this continues in adulthood, where it was found that by far the majority of adult American women are not happy with their boobs in one way or another. Remember the trends:

Good Reads for Mature Teens:
On this issue, check out How can you tell if a person is booby-trapped? and you can take a quiz to see if You Are Booby-Trapped? (from Dr. Nili Sachs who wrote the book Booby-Trapped: How to Feel Normal in a breast-Obsessed World about America's obsession with females' breasts.

And there's Deal with It!: A Whole New Approach to Your Body, Brain, and Life as a gURL, which grew out of the famous Deal with It! interactive question/answer online service from the folks at gURL, one of the best online communities for teenage girls, with stories, games, interactive content, and great discussions of the issues that affect the lives of girls age 13 and up (For mature teens: frank talk on sexuality, emotions, and body image). The book, like the online community, gives girls the goods on sexuality, their bodies and growing up as a young female in general. And if you're at least thirteen, of course check out the hip and fun yet very informative gURL
itself, created by by Esther Drill, Heather McDonald and Rebecca Odes: it's got evereything - Help Me Heather where you can ask anything and get expert advice back, Shout Out Boards which are discussion boards where you can you can shout out to other gURLs or leave a message for the gURL staff, gURL Rooms where you can create your very own personal room to both get and give advice, make new friends,or publsih anything, cool gURL Games and gURL Quizzes, and a free gURL Newletter!

Society, culture and boobs:
But to scientists this is not surprising: magazine ads, media and television parade images where most women are shown as slim and typically with well-developed if not downright oversized boobs, and these model-image women are represented - and misrepresented would be more accurate - as uniquely attractive to male attention largely because of their typically large boobs, and new media forms like MTV video often go further, often only representing hypersexualized and overdeveloped girls and women. So with females bombarded by these images daily in so many different forms and outlets, it is not surprising that most girls and women - and large segments of the not wholly mature male population - begin to internalize (largely subconsciously) such images as the ideal form of the female body to be striven for. The subversive and confidance-undermining implicit message is "boobs make the woman", ridiculously reducing the amazing complexity of a female to one anatomical part.

Boobs elsewhere and at other times: And few teens reflect on how artificial such a narrow and immature concept of female body image and female attractiveness and sexuality is and how it has been promoted, distorted, and enhanced by media-oriented society. In such media boobs - the larger the better is the claim - are always shown as something every guy desperately yearns to see and fondle, even though in cultures and societies outside of the U.S., boobs are not the holy grail of female attractiveness: so in much of Europe topless women at beaches are normal and don't inspire half-crazed male attention, very public and open breastfeeding does not raise an eyebrow (this at least is beginning to be the case here also), and French television has for years customarily shown bare-breasted women in commercials on standard programs. In addition, societal attitudes about breast size are often influenced by fashion, so that in the Flapper days of the 1920s, small boobs were definitely in, and this was also true in the l960s when fashion focused on an ultra-thin sometimes emaciated body image with even a relatively flat-chested look being promoted. In fact, flat chest were so "in" during the 1920's that fuller busted girls resorted to bandaging their breasts flat! (check out: The Flat Chest of the Twenties). Then attitudes, fashions and style shifted again in complex and for not wholly understood reasons - and synchronized with the the arrival of the first Wonder Bra and similar enhancement aids - larger boobs became fashionable again, although even today there is a lot of variability among and within economic, racial and ethnic (and sometimes geographical) subcultures, regions and groups. (For a funny romp through the history of boobs and boob fashion, see The Strapless, Heaving, Revealing History of Boobs)

And beginning in the sixties and continuing to today, women have sometimes taken their boobs into the political protest arena, with the "Boobs Not Bombs" and "Breasts Not Bombs" antiwar campaigns, and also in the anti-fur and anti-animal cruelty campaigns with the topless protestors of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). And in a famous law case of 2004 - 2005, a Florida woman, Elizabeth Book, was judged by a Florida court to be within her legal rights when she went topless during a political protest as part of Bike Week: both a city and state ordinance allows an exemption to its anti-nudity law as long as the nudity is restricted to the upper part of a women's body and is part of a political protest or other constitutionally protected issue, establishing the now widely-recognized legality of topless political protest in public.

The Good news: What do guys really think about a girl's boobs and the size of her boobs

Well, it turns out that real men's (not those depicted in TV and movies) attitudes towards boobs are more complicated than previously thought.
Phil Hilton, former editor of Men's Health magazine, said in an interview with newspaper The Independent that "Men are far less discerning than women take them for. Men think all breasts are good and are delighted to have access to any at all. The idea that they are connoisseurs is inaccurate" (as quoted on So: men would be more than happy with whatever they got, and for men, proportion and shape in the female form is often the determining factor - bodies in proportion are often considered far more attractive, so if you're a small frame, you would look out-of-proportion with massive boobs. It seems from surveys that men love the curvaceous shape of breasts more than their size and volume, and look for a female body image with appealing proportions. And it is known from other research and surveys that teen boys actually find natural breasts fascinating and sexy in any and all shapes or sizes. Indeed, recent Internet surveys of males seeking adult content shows an amazingly high interest in sites that specifically depict small-breasted females - as sexually attractive and erotic to males. But in the last analysis, remember (see also below) that boobs are only one aspect of female beauty and don't trump other factors.

[A techie note: Studies by Singh and Young (Ethology and Sociobiology, 1995), Furnham and co-researchers (Personality and Individual Differences, 1998), and many others after that found that, rather than being an independent criterion of sexual attractiveness, the desirability of any particular breast size was a function of both total body weight and the waist-hip ratio. And in the study by Horvath (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 1981), although females associated both small and medium-sized breasts with attractiveness, males did not associate a particular breast size with attractiveness! There's hope yet!]

Boys are from Mars, Girls are from Venus: Now, you could ask: why is there such a divergence between on the one hand what boys (and many males) really think about boobs, and on the other both:
(1) what girls think about boobs and
(2) what girls think boys think about boobs?
One problem is of course that girls rarely consult boys - or any male for that matter - on the subject of boobs, getting most of their feedback in the dark as it were, from other girls. And another related problem is that girls deduce most of what boys think about boobs from male teen public behavior in peer groups - from teen boys in groups at school and elsewhere and how they behave in public around girls; but male teen public behavior is highly subject to peer pressure and what they perceive as societal and cultural expectations of public male behavior towards girls and their boobs, often taking their cues from popular media and culture, and this is not the same as what an individual teen boy feels in private, especially when confronted with a real girl he likes independent of her boob size and shape.

Putting boobs in perspective:
So sure boobs are a very feminine body part (along with things like long hair, curved hips, and maybe also shapely legs, etc.) but a female's attractiveness, sexuality and appeal can't be reduced to a sum of body parts, and other subtle factors of character and personality, self-confidence, grace and elegance in movement and comportment, sense of humor, sensitivity, clothes, fashion and color style, among many others are at least as important as the size and shape of her breasts in determining what makes a girl or woman attractive and desirable to men (and - at least as important - to herself!).
Your own attitude about accepting your own unique body and boobs - whatever size and shape - plays a vital role in projecting your own confidence and comfort with your appearance.
It's important not only to not let society and culture measure your worth by the size of your boobs, but also to not let yourself equate your own self-worth and value with just your anatomy - have those who matter like, love, want and respect you for who you are, your unique persona and character, not your bra size.

And to promote a positive and assertive attitude to boobs
one company, I Like My Boobs
, sells various t-shirts, tote bags, buttons, mugs, even a cool I Like My Boobs mousepad! (shown here on left and above - click on mousepad to go to their site).

My boobs are small - is there any way I can make them bigger or grow faster without surgery?
Boobs come in all sizes and shapes and as we said above, anxiety about boob size is a natural and very common concern among young girls and especially teens, and unfortunately there are a lot of misconceptions and myths surrounding this issue, especially in popular media and on the Internet, and sometimes even among health professionals. For example:

Myth 1: Your boobs are fully developed by age 19 or so and won't grow any further.
Truth: As we note above, this is incorrect:
some breasts continue to develop into the your 20's or 30's, changing in both size and shape.
Myth 2: There's nothing non-surgical (that is, short of implants or breast augmentation surgery) a girl can do about having small boobs.
Truth: There are several safe and effective things a girl can do short of surgery to achieve a modest boost in the size of her boobs - and we discuss all of these in this section.

So here's what every young girl needs to know:

Boob size and what determines it:
If you read the sections above, you already understand that breast development is highly variable and everyone's boobs grow at different rates, both in terms of stages (and when they occur), and in terms of size and shape at any point in time. Many factors influence all this and your ultimate breast size, including:

(1) your estrogen levels,
(2) physical health and body mass, and
(3) genetics/heredity - your own personal DNA programming,
(4) certain drugs (mainly the antidepressant paroxitene Paxil, mirtapazine (Remeron) and certain other agents in the same category)
(5) other less well-understood factors and influences,
and later in life, pregnancy, menopause, and body weight continue to influence fluctuating breast size.

It is commonly thought that heredity plays the largest but by no means not exclusive role.

So what works (+), what doesn't (-):

(1) Estrogens and Phytoestrogens (-):
Of the three major hormones affecting the breast, estrogen, progesterone and prolactin, estrogen appears to have the greatest influence, but manipulating hormones to influence breast size is simply neither safe nor practical given well-established concerns about stimulating excessive cell growth and hence potentially increasing the risk of breast cancer (see our Breast Cancer Watch for more information on estrogen and breast cancer risk). Note this is true both of estrogen and its various derivatives itself, as well as of phytoestrogens - plant and plant-like substances with potential hormonal activity (like soy, isoflavones and others).

(2) Progesterones (-):
Many herbal breast enhancement products are pitched on the basis of their claimed effect on the hormone progesterone. And it is true that when taken as a pill, progesterone does increase breast size, and fairly safely (see the scientific review of Breast Enhancement undertaken by the well-respected
ConsumerLab). There are two problems with this approach, however: first, progesterone works its magic on breasts by stimulating the growth and development of milk-producing breast cells, and second, although it may be possible to adjust preparation and/or dose to avoid inappropriate effects in non-nursing females, there is to date no scientific evidence that any product has accomplished this. Furthermore, it was found that despite vendor clams, Mexican yam, a natural product claiming to either contain or stimulate progesterone, does not in fact raise progesterone levels at all, and to date there is a similar lack of scientific evidence for yam creams, and other so-called natural progesterones, although there is some evidence for the use of the herb chaste berry, a powerful progesterone stimulant, currently being used to address certain breast disorders in adult women, but it is still too early to determine whether the stimulation of progesterone actually leads to clinical significant breast tissue growth without inducing undesirable lactation.

(3) Certain Antidepressants (-):
Although we noted that certain drugs (especially certain antidepressants) may as a side effect of their primary usage cause a modest increase in bust size, probably secondary to their causing general body weight gain, it is not considered rational or prudent to exploit such powerful and systemic agents in this way - to leverage an unintended side effect, and many of these same drugs are controversial in use and safety in adolescence, so they cannot be recommended.

(4) The BRAVA System (+) - The "Vacuum Bra":
Despite many claims to the contrary even in the medical literature, there is one FDA-approved (as what's called a nonregulated medical device) non-surgical therapy for breast enhancement: the BRAVA System (from Brava LLC). This is a vest-like enclosure of two plastic domes connected to a suction device (it is sometimes humorously referred to as the first and only vacuum bra), and to gain any benefit it must be worn at least 10 hours a day for approximately 10 weeks; most patients can adapt to sleeping in it, but this requires sleeping on one's back (to see pics of the device and learn a lot more about it, click here: BRAVA and to see before and after pics of what to expect, click here: BRAVA Before and After Images).

What can it do for that fairly demanding requirement and major commitment? - possibly increase breasts by one cup, as demonstrated in a well-controlled scientific study of the system, by mechanical force stimulation of a female's own breast issue,technically called "tension induced tissue growth". In the underground of real clinical practice, my associates confirm that many women use BRAVA for an unofficial use of addressing ptosis (the medical term for sagging or drooping boobs), as it is apparently effective in this "off-label" use independent of increasing cup size, providing some "lift" and enhanced firmness and fullness (see the doctor comments at: BRAVA Success Stories: What Leading Doctors Say and ABCNews's Can Vacuum Bra Double Breast Size Without Surgery?). The manufacturer is clear on the fact that the product is designed and targeted for small-breasted women who may succeed in taking size AA boobs to a full A bordering on small B, or A or B, so typically about one cup size gain (it is certainly not intended for anyone who is already has a full C-cup or more). Although initially there may be an apparently larger gain, that is mainly from some temporary swelling but once that swelling declines, about half the initial gain sets in and is kept for at least two years, and MRI scans confirm that the gain is from true breast tissue growth yielding about one cup increase.

There appear to be few real side effects - some temporary skin irritation (contact dermatitis) is possible but fairly directly addressable with mild corticosteroid cream or similar agent, and not everyone can feel comfortable enough for 10+ hours using the device, but to date compliance appears to be not a deal-breaker for most motivated females with reasonable expectations of what it can do, and who are under proper medical supervision of a trained and skilled - and patient and caring - health professional. It may be possible in some cases to arrange for a short-term trial to allow someone to decide if they can really commit and accommodate to the device's requirements of use. Sensibly, the provider recommends it for females of 18 years or older/ See their Is It Right For Me? page and definitely check out the Unofficial BRAVA Support Group Site, with real world experiences and tips and techniques that many BRAVA users learned about or devised to help compliance and benefit. Currently the average cost of a BRAVA System is between $2000 - $2500 and is available through select plastic surgeons, gynecologists and cosmetic dermatologists who have been company-trained in how to properly use and supervise the system.

(5) Increasing Body Mass (+):
To simplify greatly, breasts are made of fat, glands, milk ducts,
connective tissue, blood vessels, and some sensory nerves, but the major composition is good old fatty tissue, and this accounts for the fact that weight gain - if personally and aesthetically acceptable - is a well-known and scientifically verified dependable and relatively safe (if not overdone) means of increasing breast size (and so as women loss weight their breast on an average tend so become smaller too, although individuals vary in how much proportionately they lose from various body areas).

But what does it take to gain a significant degree of growth in the breast? Well, here it is: to increase bust size by one cup, about 200 cc's (centimeters, a unit of volume) of extra breast tissue would be needed. And this means a proportionate gain in the rest of the body, known to entail between no less than 15 pounds weight gain to more typically about 20 pounds weight increase - for going from one cup size to the next, a one cup size gain.

Now although this is not trivial, some young girls seeking to enhance the size of their boobs modestly and reasonably from an AA-cup to a full A-cup, or from A to B-cup can exercise this option, aseptically if they are not already overweight, and given that many girls most concerned about their bust size may be thin or even underweight to some degree, this turns out to be a relatively easily implemented, safe and cost-effective (essentially free) technique for enhancing their boobs (usually in an aesthetically satisfactory manner assuming no original obesity). And the math is easy: to gain about a cup-and-a-half in bust size, approx. 30 lbs. weight gain would be required, and so on, and if care is taken to gain the weight in an nutritionally sensible fashion (ie., a well-balance sound diet of higher caloric intake rather than one whose extra calories derive from an excessively fatty regimen), this can be an enabling option for some girls who can scale their expectations to accept a modest gain of a cup or slightly more in breast size. And to put it into perspective, the only FDA-approved device for gaining one cup size growth is the BRAVA system costing a couple of thousand dollars and a serious commitment of wearing the device daily over an extended period of 2 - 3 months (excluding surgery of course).

[Techie note: The exact techie medical definition of a breast is: a mass of glandular fatty, and fibrous tissues (with the capacity for producing milk when stimulated by special hormones), and sensory nerves extending upward from the muscle layer through the breast, highly sensitive, especially in the regions of the nipple and areola, accounting for the sexual responsiveness of most women's breasts and why boobs are considered an erogenous zone of pleasure, positioned over the pectoral muscles of the chest wall and attached to the chest wall by fibrous strands called Cooper’s ligaments, with a layer of fatty tissue surrounding the breast glands and extending throughout the breast. It's this fatty tissue that gives the breast the soft consistency and subtle flowing contour that seems to mesmerize so many males. So that's a boob! For you techies, you can learn more from Imaginis's coverage: Breast Anatomy and Physiology).

(6) Bust Exercises - Good Boob Workouts:
Although exercise by itself without increase in body mass cannot physically increase breast size
, some evidence exists that various bust exercises, by building firm muscle tissue and perhaps promoting more optimal posture, may provide a perception of a firmer more "perky" appearance to the boobs. So, the appearance of firmer boobs can work some visual benefit, and is healthy too.

To learn more about good bust exercises, check out:

1. Breast Enlargement Exercises
(no illustrations of the exercise here, but the explanations are very good, and it's got the most exercises)

2. How to get Perkier Boobs in 12 Hours

3. Bust Exercises from Denise Austin
(and although the illustrations show using an exercise ball and pad, you can still do them just against a wall and floor).


(7) Breast Enhancement Aids (?):
These don't actually increase the size of boobs, just help to enhance the appearance of the bust by physical means, and most girls and young women are in this day and age reasonably savvy about their options: boob booster pads, including gel-filled breast enhancers tucked into the bra, various types of enhanced and strategically padded bras, specially engineered push-up bras that give the perception of extra volume, firmness and/or cleavage, including superboost bras, air bras, and special cleavage-enhancing bras, among many many other marvels of modern boob and bust-engineering in clothes fashion and style. See for instance Cleavage Enhancing Tips from the Experts; sites like
Bravo (makers of Bravopads) offer both small bust and instant cleavage kits, while sites like Wonderful Breast, Flattering Me, and of course the original Wonderbra offer various often quite ingenious bust and bra enhancements, and sites like MaxCleavage are dedicated solely to products providing alternatives to breast enhancement surgery and implants.

And the The Better Boob Job site offers Takeouts, the famous jellylike natural-feeling and natural-looking silicone bra inserts. Takeouts are called "cleavage to go" or "cleavage cupcakes", and even packaged in a pink Chinese food container, just like real "takeout" food! Made of soft, pliable medical-grade silicone, Takeouts are designed to conform to the shape of your bust, and because they appear to add a full cup size to the bust, they're advertised as an "instant boobjob". (Takeouts are reported to have been used by the female cast of "The Stepford Wives" movie remake).

Also consult Support and Advice for the Small Busted, a site offering dedicated advice "for the small-busted" female, along with fun subtopics like silly names for boobs, tasteful jokes, clothing tips, and more. Also fun and informative is My Flatsy Forum for flat-chested women only (from AAA-Cup Alexandra), Adventures in Flatland from SmileAndActNice, IndiaParenting's Bust Size FAQ and their Bust Size Discussion Board, OBGYN.Net's Breast Care FAQ - Breast Size, Shape and Appearance, TeenHealthFX's Dear Asian Breast Concern, and GoAskAlice's Dear Itty Bitty Titties (Must I Have A Bust?).

  For More Mature Teens:
bOObs: A Guide to Your Girls - Hip & Sassy Guide to  BOOBS, from Elisabeth Squires, the bOOb Lady! The bOOb Lady Blog - from Elisabeth Squires, The bOOb LadyTo learn more about boobs, check out the new hip website BOObs: A Guide to Your Girls ("your girls" = your boobs), humorous but very informative, brought to you by Elisabeth Squires ("The Boob Lady"), a freelance writer and daughter of a breast cancer survivor, who admits to being breast obsessed since her early teens, now on a mission to help women appreciate their breasts. The author is writing a book by the same name (bOObs: A Guide to Your Girls, a style guide for breasts, on how to put your "best breast forward" - a smart and sexy book (and site) from the smart and sexy bOOb Lady). With truly useful and practical advice - everything you always wanted to know about boobs, a kind of sassy owner's manual - the site includes a great Mammoirs section which is a collection of candid personal tales of how girls and women feel about their breasts, along with an online Questionnaire if you care to add your own experiences, with sections for "natural flotation devices" (swimwear blues), and "mammaries in motion" (boobs and sports). There's also a really excellent and comprehensive Resources section with the best videos, books, and websites on breasts, breast health, including breast cancer, breast development, breast feeding and cosmetic breast surgery.

bOOb Talk, a place to bare any and all concerns about your breasts -  ask The bOOb Lady! Elisabeth SquiresThe author also runs bOOb TALK, an online discussion forum, described as "a place to bare any and all concerns about your breasts" (click on pic on the left), with campy but intelligent sections on "Defying Gravity" (all about bras), "Saggy and Sexy" (for mature breasts), and "Funny Girls" (on humorous and unexpected things women/girls have done with their breasts), among others. Got questions about boobs? - you can ask anything, anytime at: Ask the bOOb Lady. And there is even a cool blog called The bOOb Lady (click on the sly pic of Elisabeth the bOOb Lady herself, on the right, in the act of checking out her very own).

Do I need to wear a bra? Is there any health reason against going braless?
Myth: Girls should wear bras because otherwise their boobs will start to sag sooner.
In fact, wearing a bra is primarily a matter of personal choice, based on social, aesthetic (your appearance) and comfort factors, and not a health necessity, despite what bra manufacturers would like girls and women to believe. Wearing bras regularly isn't a safeguard for retaining the youthful look of your boobs and avoiding drooping, since all breasts begin to sag to some extent over time as a female gets older, and going braless will not influence when or how much sagging any one female will ultimately experience.

And now we know the opposite may be true: many medical professionals now believe that wearing a bra may actually increase later breast sagging. Why?Well, your breasts are attached to the pectoral muscle on your chest by ligaments, and when wearing a bra, the chest muscles that support breasts are used less because your supported breasts, confined in a bra, do not allow the pectoral muscle to be exercised as much as it otherwise could be, and so it tends to atrophy (weaken and shrink in size) from lack of use, as do also the attaching ligaments. But when you go braless, the natural movements of your arms and upper torso exercise and strengthen your pectoral muscle. And that's good, because the strengthened pectoral muscle can then provide better support for your breasts. So when the chest muscles and breast ligaments are forced to have to bear the weight of the breasts when going braless, muscle tone returns, under the principle of "use it or lose it". And it follows therefore that when you do wear a bra, it's best to choose one that is the least constricting to allow at least some work and exercise to have to be done.

You can get more info from the site, a site designed by Libby to encourage the positive and healthy aspects of body-image on going braless; especially check out her discussion forum and their Breast and Bra Research page, and from the site's discussion of The Purpose of the Bra, where prominent experts like Dr. Susan M. Love (who wrote Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book), Niels H. Lauersen (author of the Complete Book of Breast Care) and many others weigh in on the side of the principle that going braless at least occasionally, in situations (home or elsewhere) where you feel comfortable and it is appropriate, is a healthful, not harmful habit.

So, when should you wear a bra?
Naturally, this is a mainly personal and sometimes emotional issue, and the bottom line is if you're not comfortable going braless in public, although increasingly acceptable socially, then follow your instincts and wear that bra. Because sure, some females may just feel uncomfortable if they're bra-free in certain social contexts, or do not feel comfortable with the possibly unwanted attention to their bouncing breasts and noticeable nipples, especially if more generously endowed, and during certain activities letting boobs hang loose and freely can be downright uncomfortable. And remember that bras can protect the breasts from some trauma during exercise workouts and other vigorous activity by limit jiggling and thus reducing the possibility of breast soreness and discomfort, especially when wearing a properly fitted sports bra. Another case for occasionally wearing a bra is to limit friction between sensitive nipples and certain kinds of clothing in order therefor to prevent possible irritation or soreness. And finally, some females prefer the appearance of their boobs when they're lift or supported by a bra.

But again, the bottom line: there is no medical necessity for wearing a bra, and there is some health benefit to going braless
at least some of the time, as long as you're okay by it!

But what about bras and breast cancer? Does wearing a bra increase your risk of getting breast cancer?
No, there is absolutely no respected scientific evidence linking bra wearing with an increased risk of breast cancer! The rumors seem to have been promoted recently through a book called Dressed to Kill by Singer and Grismaijer, which suggested that bras, especially under-wired bras, cause breast cancer by causing obstruction the lymphatic system, interfering with the normal drainage of the breast tissues, leading to toxin buildup in the breast and resulting in cancer. But this has not been substantiated and has been rejected by further research and virtually all breast cancer experts, including this site's author. (You'd have to wear a bra that was painfully constricting and unbearably tight to have any consequence whatsoever on your lymphatic system, and even then no evidence exists that this really would lead to a greater risk of breast cancer). So bottom line: bras are safe to wear, the decision is yours!

And in terms of selecting the right bra, check out My First Bra (left), a site for girls 8 - 16 years old, with bra basics, an online bra size calculator, tips on measuring bra and cup size, plus a detailed buying guide to training, sports, soft-cup, padded and pusk-up bras.

  For More Mature Teens:
A more adult perspective (with candid but tastleful and intelligent content that may be best appreciated by more mature females) can be gotten from The Breast Views: Daily News & Alternative Views of the Wonderful World of Breasts, a blog compiled by Candaian Sue Richards who is dedicated, as she says, "to stimulating a breast health movement". She founded and runs Breasts of Canada, a fine art photography calendar designed "to inspire you to greater awareness about breast health and breast cancer prevention" by "cultivating a positive body image"; and note that the calendar is a 'good works" project, with net proceeds for the current edition directed to the Canadian Breast Cancer Network.

Another site that promotes breast cancer research in a unique way is the Blogger Bobbie-Thon - Bloggers bare all for breast cancer research! Their motto is "Boobies. Although they come in all shapes and sizes (large, small, saggy and perky), they have one thing in common: The ability to develop cancer". Founded in 2002 by Florida blogger Robyn Pollman, Bobbie-Thon sponsors an annual event in which bloggers from across the globe are invited to submit pictures of either bare and covered breasts to raise money for breast cancer causes (they have raised over $17,000 for breast cancer and blogger-charity causes, with substantial donations going to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation). The money is raised by having covered boobies featured on the site for free, but charging $50 for viewing the bare breasts on a "pay-per-boobie" page. (all photos contributed are anonymous, with no faces shown).

Can teens get breast cancer? Should I be examining my boobs for lumps?
Breast cancer can actually occur in teens, but it's an extremely rare occurrence. Young girls going through puberty sometimes get alarmed when they feel a small button-sized lump under their nipple, but this is almost always the "breast bud", which develops in stage 2 of breast development (see above: How do boobs develop in a young girl?) and being a natural part of the changes that come with early puberty, it's of no concern.

To learn more about breast cancer in young females, check out Yound Women and Breast Cancer from YSC (Young Survival Coalition), an international network of breast cancer survivors and supporters dedicated to the unique concerns and issues of young women and breast cancer. As they note, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in young women ages 15 - 42, and there are more than 250,000 women in the U.S. age 40 and under currently living with breast cancer.

Warning: Adult-only!Another site, this one for Canadians, is Rethink Breast Cancer, a charity that helps young people concerned about and affected by breast cancer, using innovative breast cancer education, research and support programs; the organization teams up with the art, entertainment, fashion and sports worlds to host hip fundraising events to benefit breast cancer awareness and research (like the adult-only CheckOutMyBreasts t-shirt campaign).

And you should definitely check out their quick one-page How to Be Breast Aware, a summary of changes to look out for in your boobs, and their Symptoms, outline the most important symptoms that if they coccur, should be reported immediately to your doctor (as a precaution - these don't mean you do have anything serious, but best to be safe and have a health professional make the decision). And you can clcik on the logo we want you to keep these to learn the top ten things you can do the prevent breast cancer.

What To Do: Feel / Check Your Boobies
So even though the chances of breast cancer are small, still it's a good idea that teen girls to
(1) learn more about breast cancer and
(2) learn how to perform a breast self-examination (BSE)
because any female however young can get breast cancer. By starting to do a breast self-exam early, you learn how your body and boobs normally feel so that you can recognize changes that should be checked out to see if a problem has developed; sometimes non-cancerous breast cysts or benign lumps called fibroadenomas may be discovered this way, in part because breast lumps are fairly common during the radical changes of puberty, probably due to estrogen sensitivity during this developmental phase. Doctors recommend that young girls check their breasts once a month, at the same time each month, on or close to the last day of your menstrual period. Although doctors until recently often advised young women to do breast self-exams (BSE) starting at 20, some healthcare professionals and organizations - including this Breast Watch site - recommend that young women begin breast self-examination in their teens, after they have gone through puberty and have begun regular menstrual cycles.

One good website encouraging young girls and women to do breast self-exams for early detection of breast cancer is Feel Your Boobies, set up by Leigh Hurst, a young breast cancer survivor, "to spread the word about the importance of feeling your boobies"; as she says "Somehow telling young women the importance of "self-breast exams" doesn't quite have the same punch as saying "feel your boobies." So you might laugh at the slogan, but hopefully you'll take it seriously and do it... ". Their slogan is:
"Early detection saves lives -- why not feel your boobies?"
So check it out: Feel Your Boobies - hip, fun, and a great breast cancer awareness program for young females!

And for another really valuable site, go to Check Your Boobies, founded in 2005 by Heike Malakoff, a young Seatlle mother herself diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003, and now on a mission to have every female know get to know her breasts, through educating about breast health in a frank, fun, but fear-free manner, and in this way assist in the prevention and early detection of Breast Cancer. She promotes Check Your Boobies Parties, non-threatening gatherings during which women get to know their own breasts and learn how to perform a breast self-exam (giving you: "the ins and outs, ups and downs, arounds and abouts of self-exams"). And in addition to providing clear instructions on how to best check your bobbies, it also feaures a valuable monthly email "boobie check" reminder (free registration) to help keep you on track!

For more info, Y-ME, a national breast cancer organization, publishes Just for Teens: A Teen Guide to Breast Care (Adobe Acrobat PDF file, so right-click ontitle, and save to download), and also check out At what age should a teenage girl start having breast exams?. And the Susan G. Komen Foundation ( has produced How to Do Breast Self-Exams, a fabulous interactive presentation (Macromedia Flash) with a live subject showing best techniques for self-examination of the breasts; can't be beat as a way to learn how to do the self-exam right!

More Breast Cancer and Breast Health Information for Teens
And for kids who have a parent with cancer, or have lost a parent to cancer, Kids Konnected provide friendship, understanding,education, and support, with a 24-hour hotline, and with chapters acroos the country.

Be good to your boobs: Finally you should know that a study done and reported in 2002 in the Lancet medical journal showed that young women who start smoking within five years of their first menstrual period face a 70% higher risk of developing breast cancer than those who never smoke (see Risk of breast cancer from cigarette smoking greatest for teens, and also a 2005 study Breast Cancer Risk Among Women Who Start Smoking as Teenagers confirmed this). And drinking can increase the risk of breast cancer for females in any age group (see the section on alcohol on our Breast Cancer Prevention Watch site). So common sense says that in order to keep your boobs healthy:

(1) avoid smoking especially, and anything but an occasional drink, and - more than anything -
(2) get to know your boobs early - by performing breast self-exams, and finally
(3) follow a sensible healthy lifestyle of good diet and nutrition, and regular exercise:

and check out our prevention advice on our Breast Cancer Prevention Watch site (for older teens).

If you're feeling peer pressure on drinking, or just want to know more about alcohol use and abuse among teens, check out The Cool Spot, created for kids 11-13 years old by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) to give you skills to resist pressure to drink, and to give you lots of reasons not to drink; another site to check is SADD - Students Against Destructive Decisions,

Then, to learn more about the harms of smoking, how to quit, or how and why to avoid starting, check out: NicotineFreeKids, COST - Children Opposed to Smoking Tobacco, KATS - Kids Against Tobacco Smoking, and Tobacco-Free, which sponsors the yearly KickButtsDay (this year on April 5th).

And even some cosmetic products can pose an extra risk for breast care: many popular cosmetic and beauty products commonly used by teens such as nail polish and nail strengthener products as well as cheek blushes, acne cleansers, hair colors, mascaras, contain ingredients considered to be "reasonably anticipated” as cancer-causing in humans; to learn more about these risks, check out the report Cosmetics Popular with Teenagers Linked to Breast Cancer, Other Serious Health Problems: Adolescents are Especially Vulnerable to Toxic Exposures from Chemical Ingredients from the Breast Cancer Fund. For a rundown of what cosmetics to avoid and info on safer products, see The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics site. And good news: a ground-breaking proposal for safer cosmetics sponsored by the Breast Cancer Fund called the Cosmetics Safety Act of 2005 has now been signed into law by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Also you can go to a great site called Cosmetic Companies and Breast Cancer (from Think Before You Pink, a project of Breast Cancer Action) which gives you a guided tour of the top cosmetics companies and lists the potentially unsafe products each markets. And you can get a list of the products with the highest health concerns in 25 different product categories containing ingredients linked to cancer, pregnancy problems, and other potential health issues, in Skin Deep - Report and Cosmetics and Skin Care: Executive Summary (this is a brief summary, from; see below for the full site).

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has also set up as a public service a great Skin Deep site, a personal care product safety guide with in-depth information on over 14 thousand products, brands and ingredients of common cosmetics like lotions, lip balms, deodorants, sunscreens and other popular products. Skin Deep provides safety ratings and brand-by-brand comparisons that can help consumers choose safer products. And it all online and interactive so you can look up by actual brand, or by product type (like "eye shadow", "lip gloss", "lipstick", "sunscreen", even "toothpaste"! so that you can find out for yourself how safe a product really is, and which ones to buy or avoid. Definitely check out this fabulous service and use only safe cosmetics (click on the Skin Deep logo to the left)!

And remember: a new report, State of the Evidence 2006: What Is the Connection Between the Environment and Breast Cancer? from the Breast Cancer Fund which identifies environmental and other preventable causes of the breast cancer, draws on nearly 350 studies linking breast cancer to synthetic chemicals and to radiation exposure, and finds that as much as half of all breast cancer may be environmental in original and cause! (And there's a shorter and more readable Executive Summary of the report). This finding is especially important because the number of women (and more rarely, men) getting breast cancer has been climbing steadily in both the United States and other industrialized countries, ever since the 1940s, and it now amounts to more than one million cases per year across the world! Just in the United States alone, a woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer has nearly tripled during the past four decades! And remember, although it's extremely rare, breast cancer can actually occur in teens, so make sure to check out the sites we list above and follow the advice we give for the health and safety of your boobs!

Click here for E-Magazine on Breasts


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