By Brittany Doohan
You might dress to accentuate them. You may spend hundreds of dollars on lacy underthings to support them. You definitely talk about them. And you certainly take good care of them. Your breasts are an important part of your body — but how much do you really know about them? There’s a lot more to your chest than you might think. Here are 14 unusual, interesting and surprising facts about your breasts.
A little foreplay in the bedroom may rev up your sexual desire — and it excites your breasts, too. When you’re aroused, the increased blood flow to your breasts can cause them to swell, making them up to 25 percent larger and very sensitive to the touch. As you continue to get aroused, your breasts start to work for you — and your partner. The apocrine glands located in the areola of the nipples begin to produce chemicals which may subliminally increase your mate’s attraction to you.
If orgasm is eluding you in the bedroom, you might want to tell your partner to head north of the border, instead. It is possible for some women to achieve orgasm solely through breast stimulation. In a 2011 study published by the Journal of Sexual Medicine, female participants were asked to lie inside an fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machine and alternate between stimulating their cervix, clitoris, vagina and nipple for 30 seconds each, with a 30 second rest in between. Researchers discovered that stimulation of the nipple activated a part of the brain called the genital sensory cortex, which is the same brain region activated by the stimulation of the vagina and clitoris — meaning a woman’s brain seems to respond to nipple stimulation in the same way it responds to genital stimulation. Some practiced nipple play from yourself or your partner may be enough to lead to the ultimate happy ending.
Your breasts naturally get fatter and less sensitive to hormonal changes as you age. In your twenties, your breasts are firmer because they are made of lobules (milk-producing glands), milk ducts, fat and connective tissue. These lobules clump together to make larger units of glandular tissue called lobes. As you age, the lobes in your breasts are naturally replaced by more fat. With less glandular tissue and more fatty tissue, your breasts then become softer, less dense and lose support (which can cause sagging).
No two pairs of breasts are the same — your breasts differ in size and shape and even nipple color from every other woman. But did you know that even your own pair is unique from one another? One breast may have a different shape than the other, or even sit a little differently on your chest. And most likely, one of your breasts is larger than the other. “[The size difference] is not usually very much — but it’s enough that you can notice it,” said Elaine Brown, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist. “Nobody’s body is completely symmetrical.”
While it’s normal for your breasts to differ from each other, it is important to pay attention to anything that seems out of the ordinary, as certain changes could be a sign of breast cancer. Call your doctor if: you notice a change in size or shape of your breast, you feel a lump or increased firmness in your under arm or breast, you have skin changes (like itchiness, scaling, redness, dimples or puckers) or you notice any nipple changes or unusual discharge.
If you notice a few hairs growing around the areola (nipple), don’t be alarmed — it’s common! About 1 in 6 women have nipple hair — especially during times when your hormones are shifting (like during pregnancy, your period, menopause or when starting a new birth control).
The color of nipple hair is usually close to your natural hair color (like pubic hair). The more hair you have on your body, the more you may have on your nipples. These hairs are normal, but if you don’t like the sight of them, say “hasta la vista” with a quick tweeze, laser or shave!
What’s not normal: If you notice an irregular growth of hair on the chest or on the nipple itself, or if you’ve never had nipple hair before and it grows suddenly, have your doctor check it out.
Are they real? If breast augmentation rates keep climbing, chances are many boobs won’t be. Breast augmentation (a surgery that costs about $3,400 in the U.S.) has been the top cosmetic surgical procedure in the country since 2006, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. In 2011, approximately 307,000 breast augmentation surgeries were performed, a four-percent jump from the previous year.
So how much of a boost are women looking for? In a 2012 survey of 125 augmentation procedures, the most popular implant size was 400 cc, which is about a two cup size increase (so if you’re an A cup, a 400 cc implant would boost you up to a full C cup). The second most popular was 350 cc, and the third was 450 cc.
Breast implants can hide some breast tissue, which can make it difficult for a radiologist to detect any abnormalities in your mammogram. Women over 40 who have breast implants should talk to their doctor to determine how frequently they should receive mammograms, and should let the mammogram technician or radiologist know that they have implants. It’s important to make sure your radiologist has experience reading mammograms of women with breast implants to ensure that they see as much breast tissue as possible in your mammogram.