How long do we spend looking at our boobaloobas in the shower and wondering if they are normal? We asked our resident GP, Dr Sharon O’Donnell to answer some of the questions that we are often afraid to ask…
Boobs, jugs, knockers, tits, mammary glands- whatever you call them your breasts are yours to keep and are unique to you.
Breast problems are quite common in young girls. They start to develop between age 8 and 13 and are usually the first sign of puberty … but can appear anytime up to age 18. It’s not at all unusual for breasts to grow at different rates and so be unequal in shape or size and lots of women have mis-matching breasts! Big or small size is usually determined by genetics and body weight. Breasts are made up of mainly fatty tissue with some glands. Nipples are usually pink in white skin or darker and brown in darker skin. Nipple colour gets darker in pregnancy too.
Up to a quarter of girls have some hair around their nipples and this can be perfectly normal. Some girls have inverted nipples which mean they don’t point out. This may come and go in some girls or be permanent in others but is perfectly normal. The size of your breasts really doesn’t affect anything ie it doesn’t affect whether or not you can breast feed or change the risk of breast cancer.
Breast pain or discomfort (mastalgia) is common before a period and simple measures can help like evening primrose oil supplements, reducing caffeine and wearing a good supportive bra. Pain other than soreness before a period should be reported to your doctor. Lumps in the breast are never normal but can be lots of non worrying things. If you have a sore breast lump with some redness over the skin and feel a little flu- like it’s very likely you have mastitis or an infection or abscess in your breast which will need antibiotic treatment. If you find a small mobile smooth round breast lump it’s probably a benign fibroadenoma which won’t cause any problems. Breast cancer is very rare in young women but not impossible. It may be associated with other things like puckering of the skin or nipple discharge or new nipple inversion.
Always see your doctor with any worries or lumps or changes in your breast that may cause you worry.
We advise all young women to be ‘ Breast aware’. This means getting to know your own breasts, checking them on a regular basis the week after a period and then reporting any changes or lumps.