If you are a human with breasts, then you've probably wondered if your boobs are normal and healthy. I bet you've worried about their size, how even they are (or aren't), as well as how much they stick out or hang down. And that's OK. We've all pondered our boobs to one degree or another, even though it can get a bit overwhelming at times. But you know what? Boobs definitely deserve this much attention — especially since they play such a large role in our health.
So yes, you should be eyeing them in the mirror. And yes, you should be checking them regularly for signs of breast cancer. "It's a good idea to perform self-exams once a month, preferably right after your period has ended," Dr. Pamela Marcus, a radiologist who specializes in women's imaging, tells Bustle. "That's when your breasts tend to be the least naturally lumpy and painful, and that way you get a sense for how your breasts feel at the same time in your cycle."
With that said, you shouldn't spend too much time wondering if your shape and size is "normal." With so many breast shapes out there, it's safe to assume yours are a-OK. But, just to be sure, read on for some breast shapes that are perfectly healthy, as well as others that may indicate a health issues. If anything seems out of the ordinary, definitely talk to your doctor ASAP.
1. Normal: Tiny Breasts And Big Breasts
If you've been wondering if your breast size is normal, never fear. Unless your doctor has expressed concern due to larger breast size (and perhaps resulting back problems), there is no right or wrong when it comes to size. "Breasts can come in any size: small, medium, or large," says Marcus. Whatever yours are, it's likely they're perfectly normal.
2. Normal: Various Perkiness Levels
While you may have been conditioned over the years to think perky boobs are best, it's certainly only a matter of opinion and has nothing to do with health — or what's "normal." As Marcus says, "Some are soft and heavy, others are firm and perky ... All of those differences are completely normal."
3. Normal: Breasts That Are Wide Apart
You may also have preconceived ideas about the amount of space that "should" be between your boobs. But again, there are many varying, perfectly healthy, degrees. "Some breasts are set wider, others are set close together — some breasts are even slightly asymmetrical," says Marcus. And none of those traits are anything you should worry about.
4. Normal: Cup Sizes That Don't Match
Most women's breasts aren't perfectly identical, so don't be concerned if one of your boobs has always been bigger than the other. As Mihye Choi, MD, an associate professor in the Hansjörg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery at NYU tells me, if yours don't match, you have what are called "asymmetrical" breasts. And it's perfectly healthy.
5. Normal: Long, Thin Breasts
Since so many people think breasts have to be round, it may cause some concern if yours are bit more constricted. "One variant I see as a plastic surgeon is the tuberous breast, similarly shaped to a potato, where the base of the breast is constricted," says Dr. Joshua D. Zuckerman, MD, FACS, a board-certified plastic surgeon practicing in New York. While it's not an unhealthy condition, many women talk with their doctors just to make sure.
6. Normal: Smaller Athletic Breasts
Again, most sizes and shapes are considered healthy. "Regarding breast shape, there is a tremendous degree of variability within what is considered healthy and normal," Zuckerman says. "Breasts can range from high and round, to small and athletic with more muscle." If you're the owner of smaller boobs, know that your size is totally OK.
7. Normal: Deflated Or Saggy Boobs
If you've recently lost weight or breastfed, then you might have saggy boobs. These are what's known as "ptotic" boobs, and they're also perfectly normal. As Zuckerman says, "Ptosis, or sag, can be more or less severe and comes in three grades depending on how low the nipple is placed." For some women, the nipple is at the lowest point of the breast mound.
8. Normal: Nipples Of All Shapes And Sizes
As with boob size, there seems to be an endless list of nipple shapes and sizes. And most are considered healthy. "Nipples and areolae can also exhibit a wide degree of variability in position, diameter, and protuberance," Zuckerman says. Do yours stick out? Are they inverted? If so, know that you and your nipples are not alone.
9. Normal: Larger, Heavy Breasts
If your breasts feel extra heavy, you might be wondering what's up, or if they are too big. As Choi tells me, larger heavy breasts might not be considered "normal," but they certainly fall in the healthy range. And unless they're causing you pain, are generally a-OK.
10. Not Normal: A Lump In Your Breast
This should go without saying, but if you find or see a lump in your breast, definitely get it checked out. While it may be due to a perfectly normal hormonal fluctuation before your period, it could also be a sign of cancer. As Choi says, "If a breast develops a lump, has an open wound, is draining or crusting from the nipple, it can be a sign of a disease such as breast cancer."
11. Not Normal: Sudden Changes In Size Or Shape
As with your other body parts, it's important to note any changes and tell your doctor ASAP, especially since any sudden changes may be a sign of cancer. "Other signs include one breast getting large compared to the other side, breast skin developing rash, or dimpling," Choi says. "A new nipple retraction or newly inverted nipple can be a sign of problem."
To help catch issues before they get worse, do those monthly breast exams. And be sure to tell your doctor if you notice anything out of the ordinary. It's always better to ask questions and be safe than sorry.
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