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6 stages when there is a change in your breasts’ size and shape

Here's how your breasts' size and shape change naturally throughout your life and why it's a normal process.

Written by Anuradha Varanasi |Updated : September 12, 2016 2:07 PM IST

It s a known fact that a woman s breast size and shape can completely change with the help of plastic surgery or inserting breast implants. However, even without any surgical intervention, your breasts undergo changes at different stages with age. These include changes in both the size and shape of your breasts and any sensations that are unusual or different. While one reason why you're noticing changes in your breasts could be breast cancer, here's how to a breast self-examination to check for cancer.

So, how do you know when to expect some changes in your breasts once breast cancer has been ruled out? Dr Uma Vaidyanathan, Gynaecologist and Unit Head at Max hospital, New Delhi, says these are six stages when it is normal for every woman s breasts to undergo some amount of change throughout her life.

1. Puberty

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During puberty, the body undergoes several changes including the growth of pubic hair and armpit hair. Women experience changes in their breasts as a small bump starts developing under the nipple. Along with that, your breasts will also feel tender, sore, itchy and sensitive especially during your periods. A woman s breasts start developing by the time she is nine to 11 years old though it can vary according to one s body structure and production of hormones. Hormones like estrogen, progesterone and prolactin play a major role during puberty for breast development and cause an increase the size of your breasts. These are the causes of early puberty and what to do about it.

2. Pregnancy

Following puberty, pregnancy is known to cause several changes as your body prepares itself to nourish the baby. Several women complain of breast tenderness or experiencing sore breasts during the first trimester of pregnancy. This is due to increasing levels of estrogen and progesterone. Your breast size also increases by at least a cup and your breasts will feel itchy due to stretching of the skin. Other than your breasts, the size of your nipples also increases and they also become darker. These are the six changes that take place in your breasts during pregnancy.

3. Breastfeeding

During breastfeeding, many women complain of sore and cracked nipples along with breast engorgement or fullness in the breasts. As the breasts become full with milk post delivery, they become heavy and swollen. Some women also experience hardening of the breasts along with a throbbing pain. Here is how to can avoid breast engorgement while breastfeeding. These are the things you should never do while breastfeeding.

4. Birth control pills

Other than pregnancy and breastfeeding, if you re on birth control or oral contraceptive pills, Dr Vaidyanathan says a very common side-effect is water retention, weight gain and even bloating. This is because birth control pills contain hormones like estrogen and progesterone and once you start taking them at first, you might experience some changes in your breast size. This is only due to fluid retention or weight gain and these changes are temporary. After a few weeks or a month, your breasts size will return to normal. Here s how to prevent weight gain when you are on birth control pills.

5. Menstruation

Even if you are not taking oral contraceptive pills, you could still experience bloating and water retention. Before and even during periods, your breasts feel tender, swollen and in some cases even painful. During the premenstrual stage, it is completely normal to experience swelling and it is one of the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. This is mainly due to hormonal fluctuations as estrogen makes the breast ducts enlarge. On the other hand, progesterone causes swelling of milk glands. Here are tips on how to deal with premenstrual syndrome.

6. Ageing

During menopause, every woman experiences hormonal fluctuations. Due to low estrogen levels, the breasts start sagging as it causes a reduction in glandular tissues of your breasts. These are the symptoms that signal the onset of menopause.

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