We all can’t help but love to discuss our boobs—but, how much do you really know about your set? Believe it or not, your breasts are full of surprises that far exceed what you may or may not have learned in your high school health class. Want to know more? We’ve consulted with Catherine McGinty, a Certified Nurse Practitioner at the Rittenhouse Women's Wellness Center in Philadelphia, and learned the nine set-secrets you need to know:
1. Breasts can get fat (and this fat often causes sagginess)
While we all dream of having a perfectly shaped chest, we know this is not really possible for most women. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc., breasts are made up of fat cells called adipose tissue, lobes and milk ducts.. As you age, more and more fat cells are produced. Rather than causing you to go up in bra size, these fat cells normally end up setting your chest further down (a.k.a. sagging). Don’t stress, collegiettes––this is a naturally process and there is little that can be done to stop it.
2. Extra nipples are not that uncommon
The presence of an extra nipple, properly known as a supernumerary nipple, is actually fairly common. This bonus nipple is usually just a variation in your body’s natural development, or the result of genetics. "The most common abnormality of breast development [from birth], which can be seen in both boys and girls, is an accessory nipple," Catherine says. "Ectopic nipple tissue may occur at any point along the milk stream from the [armpit] to the groin."
If you think you have a supernumerary nipple, don’t feel strange! About 1 in 50 women have a third nipple, according to HealthResearchFunding.org. In most cases, these nipples are falsely identified as moles (or other skin conditions).
However, Catherine says it is still important to be examined by a medical professional. "They have been associated with an increased risk of genitourinary abnormalities and other developmental abnormalities." These nipples can yield more than cosmetic concerns.
3. It is best to get checked the week after your period
So, when is the best time to get your breasts checked out by a doctor? Three to 5 days after your period. During this time, your boobs will be least tender and swollen, making it easiest for your doctor to detect any abnormalities.
"The best time to perform a breast exam is about one week after your menstrual period ends, when the breasts are least lumpy," Catherine says. Although, she notes that not all expert groups recommend having regular breast exams. "'False positive' findings on breast exams (lumps that are not cancers) may lead to unnecessary breast biopsies and associated anxiety," she says.
While Catherine does not necessarily recommend performing breast self-exams, she does say they are a good a way to identify any changes in your own breasts. However, you should still continue to get regular mammograms.
4. You should always opt for a sturdy sports bra––no matter your cup size
We all know the pain and discomfort associated with a shitty sports bra––unnecessary movement is definitely not our friend during a cardio session! The breast has no muscle (a fact that many women fail to realize), so buying the correct sports bra for your chest is absolutely essential in order to avoid sagging.
Wearing a sports bra reduces up to a massive 74 percent of chest movement, according to Sports Injury Clinic. What are some tips for purchasing the perfect one? One band measurement from underneath the breasts and a cup size that fully covers your chest––without spillage.
5. Your set doesn't necessarily come from your mother
Are you flat-chested, but your mom fills out a C-cup naturally? You may want to look to your dad’s side of the family. While your weight affects the size of your breasts, it is genetics that plays the biggest role in determining how big or small your chest will be. However, Catherine says that there is not a lot of information available on how much breast tissue results from your maternal side versus your paternal side.
6. You are most likely wearing the wrong bra size
Wait, WTF!? It is a vicious cycle of customers purchasing the wrong size, and in turn, retailers resupplying the wrong size. If your bra is uncomfortable in any way, it is probably the wrong size. Your bra should make you feel awesome, not constricted! Take the time to get properly fitted––and we don’t just mean running to your local Victoria’s Secret.
7. Breast size fluctuates throughout your lifetime
Many things attribute to changes in the size of your breasts from your age, to your weight, to your menstrual cycle. While these changes may go unnoticed by some women, for others, the experience is no fun.
For Anna*, a junior at The University of Massachusetts Amherst, the constant change in the weight of her breasts often causes her trouble. “I went from an A to a C in eighth grade, then from a C to a double-D once I went on birth control in tenth grade, ” she says. “They can get pretty heavy and I honestly can’t walk around without a bra and not have back pains.”
Anna adds, “Also, kind of weird, but when I eat [junk food] some weeks, all of the weight goes into my boobs, which is totally a pain for wearing the right bra size.” Fluctuating breast size is something that many collegiettes, especially ones who have a larger chest, have to deal with.
8. Nipple-gasms are a real thing
We know it sounds crazy, but it’s true! According to Dr. Justin Lehmiller and a brain research study published by the Journal of Sexual Medicine, nipple stimulation and genital stimulation are processed the same way inside a woman’s brain. Some women can get so turned on that they actually reach orgasm from nipple stimulation alone!
"Women vary in the intensity, type, and duration of stimulation required for orgasm," Catherine says. "Stimulation of other erotically stimulated areas (breast or nipple stimulation) may trigger orgasm." While it is understandable that this will not hold true for every collegiette, it is surprisingly more common than we all thought.
9. Your left is most likely larger than your right
Like most things in life, no two boobs are the same––even when they are a part of the same chest. Whether it is noticeable to you or not, your left breast is most likely bigger than your right.
"Asymmetry may be more pronounced when the breast is developing, but often improves by full maturity," Catherine says. "Despite this, 25 percent of adult women have some degree of breast asymmetry." Previous trauma, injury or infection can also lead to size differences between your breasts.
Just when you thought you had heard it all when it came to your boobs, you’ve been stumped! Maybe it is time to appreciate your breast friends for just how extraordinary they are. Honestly, they are one-of-a-kind!
*Names have been changed.