5 Myths & Facts About Increasing Breast Size

by JR Thorpe
Shot of a trendy young woman covering her chest against a city background
Delmaine Donson/E+/Getty Images

The ideal breast size has ricocheted back and forth across the spectrum for decades (and, indeed, centuries). From the flat androgynous look of the 1990s, we went into full Pamela Anderson Playboy Bunny mode, and the current fashion appears to be a battle between the Amber Roses and the Karlie Klosses. If this tells you anything, it's that the notion of "perfect" breasts is an absolute illusion created by external forces, and that nothing should pressure you to inflate or decrease your natural breasts out of shame or aesthetic dismay. The mania for bigger boobs, in particular, has attracted a lot of bizarre theories about "easy" ways to grow your breasts, and they need debunking. Now.

Breast implants are, obviously, the one no-nonsense absolutely guaranteed way to increase your bust size, but beyond that, advice abounds on climbing the A-cup ladder. Putting aside the simple fact that there is nothing wrong with small boobs , misinformation about the female body and how we interact with it is a problem. If we don't fully understand how hormones, contraception, exercise, and weight loss change our breasts, we're less capable of tracking them and noticing if something peculiar happens. Pay attention to your breasts, people. Love and cherish them.

So next time anybody mentions something incorrect about changing breast size, whack them with the truth. And if they're suggesting it about your beautiful bosom, perhaps straight-up whack them.

Claim #1: "Working Out Pectoral Muscles Will Increase Your Bust Size"

Status: Complicated

If you're familiar with Judy Blume's now-famous "I must, I must, increase my bust" mantra from Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret, you'll be aware of a long tradition of ideas about musculature in the chest and whether it can be harnessed to increase breast size. The truth, however, is considerably more complicated than just doing a push-up or two to go up a few cup classifications.

Breasts themselves don't contain any muscular tissue; they're not capable of being "toned" or raised in the same way as a muscle in, say, your thigh. Muscular breast-increase techniques focus on developing the pectoral muscles, which cross the ribs underneath, proclaiming that increasing their size could boost overall breast size.

The reality, however, is more complicated: putting on muscle mass underneath breasts is tricky, and will likely not be significant enough to make an impact on your overall breast size. Plus, large amounts of exercise may reduce the amount of weight you carry, including in your breasts. The one way exercise may definitely help is by improving posture, which will push breasts further forward and make them appear firmer or fuller.

Claim #2: "Weight Gain & Loss Affects Your Bust"

Status: True

If you believe that weight gain goes straight to your breasts, you're likely right. The structure of the breast is made of a combination of fatty tissue and a system of glands and ducts, which are designed to produce milk for babies. The system of ducts is pretty one-size-fits-all, but the fatty tissue can be extremely sensitive to weight loss and gain, meaning that size is very tied to body fat percentage. Weight gain is not localized, however; if you gain fat, you gain it across your entire body, not just in your breasts.

That said, the connection between weight shifts and breast size is so entrenched that repeat dieting and yo-yoing can have a real effect on the composition and appearance of breasts, because rapid weight loss can have a detrimental impact on the collagen and elastin that keep boobs perky.

Claim #3: "Birth Control Makes Your Boobs Bigger"

Status: Partially True

This claim is actually largely a hangover from the early days of the Pill, which had a different composition than today's contraceptive options. To review, modern contraceptive pills usually come in two forms: the combined pill, which contains both estrogen and progesterone, and the mini-pill, which is progesterone-only. Early versions of the Pill in the 1960s carried high levels of estrogen, which led to significant side effects for the takers, including a rise in breast size. Since then, contraceptive pills have altered their composition significantly, and the combined pill contains a much lower concentration of estrogen, so the breast-swelling impact is smaller.

Nowadays, a small increase in breast size is expected when a woman begins taking the combined pill, partially due to its impact on her fluid retention, but it's also predicted to fade away after several cycles on the contraceptive. Temporarily larger breasts are associated with other hormonal forms of birth control as well, so it's something to discuss with your doctor or gynecologist if you're thinking of switching methods.

Claim #4: "Your Breasts Are Biggest Before Your Period"

Status: True

Hormones are possibly the most reliable cause of shifts in breast size, including everything from the basic menstrual cycle to pregnancy and menopause. Shape magazine explains that breasts gain and lose fullness throughout your cycle due to hormonal shifts; breast density and size is at its greatest in the luteal phase, the period following ovulation, as estrogen and progesterone levels peak.

Pregnancy is also a well-known situation in which breast size can increase, due to huge boosts in hormones and a steady increase in prolactin levels as the body prepares to breastfeed. Breastfeeding itself can mean breast size goes up because of milk production, though some women go through an entire pregnancy and childbirth cycle without either of these symptoms.

Claim #5: "Creams And Massage Can Boost Breast Size"

Status: Myth

People have been trying various methods to increase their breast size "naturally" for thousands of years. When I say humans have tried everything, I promise I mean everything. From cold-water massages to cold dairy cream, the breast-increase market has been perpetually hopeful about the possibility of a new cup size or two without the need for surgery, but the scientific truth is that the only guaranteed ways of increasing your bust are weight gain, hormonal fluctuation, or surgery.

Unfortunately, just because science says most of these methods are busted, doesn't mean the market is going to die away. Products are still being sold proclaiming that they can enhance blood flow, increase fat cells or water retention in your breasts, and all manner of other vaguely realistic-sounding consequences.

The Bottom Line

If you're unhappy with your current breast size, creams and pills claiming to increase your bust are only going to be a waste of money and time (and probably stain remover, if you get all that cream on your clothes).

My advice? Remember your boobs are fantastic just the way you are; don't let a charlatan make money off your body. Instead, try to get to know and appreciate your boobs. Look at any medical issues that arise with them with a doctor, sunbathe gloriously topless, and give your breasts the love they deserve.

Images: Delmaine Donson/E+/Getty Images; Giphy