We then spoke with board-certified gynecologist Dr. Alyssa Dweck, a New York-based OB-GYN and co-author of The Complete A to Z for Your V (Fair Winds Press, 2017), to get her expert responses on these questions.
*Disclaimer: Age, family history, and other factors are important for any care provider to know in order to give a full and proper diagnosis. And answers to questions may vary depending on your own individual backgrounds. If you have a sudden change with your breasts or other concerns, please see your care provider for a full diagnosis.
1. Does sleeping braless and on one side cause the boob toward the ceiling to stretch and become larger than the other?
“No. Your sleeping position and whether you’re sleeping in a bra or not is based on individual comfort,” Dweck told BuzzFeed. “So, there is no effect whatsoever.”
2. Can you breastfeed after a breast reduction?
“There are some women who are successful with breastfeeding after a reduction and many who are not because the ducts may get affected. It’s always worth a try, but don’t get frustrated if you cannot.”According to this article by board-certified lactation consultant Diana West, “Almost all women who have breast augmentation and reduction surgery will be able to make some milk. But if a significant portion of the lactation system was impaired by the surgery, then the milk supply may not be enough to meet a baby’s entire need.”
3. Does anyone else have flat nipples that only stick out (a very little bit) when hit directly by chilly contact or ~stimulated~? Is this something I should be worried about?
“Nipples come in all sorts of sizes and shapes. Some people have nipples that are flat, some have nipples that stick out whether erect or not, some people have inverted nipples. If the nipples are always flat, then it’s no problem — that’s just your individual variation. But, if all of a sudden they’re sticking out for no apparent reason, then that may be something to get checked out by your care provider.”
4. Is it normal to find black hairs growing on my breasts? They didn’t start showing up until I hit my twenties.
“To get a couple of sparse, stray black hairs is not unusual and usually not a sign of any real pathology. From time to time, rapid, coarse, dark hair grow in strange places and can represent a hormonal imbalance, which can be checked out with blood work and be monitored.”
5. Is it okay for boobs to sag on the sides?
“The architecture of breasts can change based on lots of different things: weight change, pregnancy, nursing, and genetic factors. If this is the way they’ve always been, it’s probably not an issue. When something is happening to both breasts, then that’s less likely an issue compared to a sudden change in the anatomy of one breast.”
6. Is there a way to make my breasts more perky and less saggy that doesn’t require surgery?
“There are lifting bras, like Wonderbra, that can give you a change in appearance under clothing. But the only way to alter or enhance the physique would be to do pectoral exercises. Now, this won’t change the breasts themselves, but it can develop the muscle underneath, which might make them ‘perkier.'”
7. Why do my boobs grow small painful balls that disappear on their own?
“If you’re speaking of cysts, usually the cause is the time in the menstrual cycle. The other thing that may alter the breasts in this way can be caffeine intake. The bigger concern is the ‘balls’ that come and don’t go away and continue to grow or be painful. Those should be checked out.”
8. Is it normal for areolae to get bumps on them? One of the bumps I have has a little bit of ~pus~ that comes out every once in a while.
“Without knowing more or actually seeing this, you might be talking about Montgomery glands (which are a normal part of the anatomy). Sebaceous materials, like whiteheads, can come out of these.”
9. Is it normal to have inverted nipples?
“Yes, this is not unusual. A lot of women have inverted nipples and sometimes they will pop out with stimulation, warmth, or pregnancy. But many times they will remain inverted. Now, if you have always had a nipple that points out and sticks out and all of a sudden it becomes inverted for no apparent reason, that’s worth getting checked out.”
10. Can you breastfeed even if you have very small boobs?
“Absolutely. Milk production is actually regulated by a hormone in the brain (prolactin), not by breast tissue. It really has nothing to do with how big or small your breasts are.”
11. Will my breasts ever go back to normal after I stop breastfeeding or will they always look saggy and deflated?
“Breasts never really go back 100% to how they were pre-nursing. There are architectural changes in breasts after nursing. But there are plenty of women who are very happy with the appearance of their breasts after nursing.”
12. I get weird, deep, blackheads on my boobs that I don’t get anywhere else. Is that normal or am I just gross?
“It’s not unusual to get blackheads that are similar to nipples on the areola. The hair follicle can get ingrown. A blackhead that doesn’t go away in a reasonable time frame should be checked out. Anything that bleeds we usually like to get checked out, too.”
13. Around my areola, it looks like there are a bunch of little holes (they kind of look like deep hair follicles). Is this normal?
“It’s not unusual to have slightly not smooth skin on the areola 24/7. There is erectile tissue on the areola and nipples, so when it fills with blood it may look different. There is something called inflammatory breast cancer (which is very rare and typically seen in older women) makes the skin looks like an orange peel. However, this is not something that suddenly appears. It develops slowly over time.”
14. How common is it to have a lump that’s is/isn’t cancer? I know there are different types and only a few are cancerous, plus the chances of having cancer when you are young are low. But how much should you really worry?
“Most lumps in young women are benign and not cancer. The lifetime risk of breast cancer for women is 1 in 8. But other factors that might increase your risk include family history, genetic propensity, using certain types of hormones might increase the risk of breast cancer, smoking, and increased alcohol use. Again, if there is a sudden change in your breasts, it’s best to get it checked out with your care provider.”
15. Is it common to have larger areolae? It took me some time to finally become comfortable with my breasts and accept the way they look.
“It is not unusual to have different shapes, colors, hues, and proportions in the areola. There is no ‘normal.’ It’s just what’s normal for you.”
16. I have one D cup and one DD cup. Is a size difference that large normal? It’s next to impossible to find bras that fit.
“It is not unusual. Most women are not 100% symmetrical anywhere on their bodies. There are plenty of women who have discrepancy and asymmetry in their breast sizes. The only time to be concerned if this is something that is happening all of a sudden.”
17. Is it normal for your breasts to hurt when you’re not about to have your period?
“Sometimes. There are certain things that can cause breast pain: 1) the time in your cycle, 2) caffeine intake, 3) trauma or muscular discomfort from a workout, and 4) certain lumps, which can cause discomfort especially if they’re large.”
18. What are the qualifications to get a breast reduction? I have a very small frame but I’m a 38G.
“From a medical standpoint, some qualifications could include neck pain, back pain, and altered posture. Some women will get divots in their shoulders from the pulling and pressure on the bra straps. Some women will have mental anguish or have to limit their exercise.”
19. Is dark nipple discharge ever normal?
“The typical reason for a dark nipple discharge is duct ectasia. Women will complain of a greenish, grayish discharge coming from the breast. It’s benign, but a lot of people have surgery to remove that duct. However, a BLOODY nipple discharge is NEVER normal. This must be evaluated, no matter if you’re young or old.”
20. My boobs hurt all the time. Is this normal?
“It is not that unusual. It could be hormonal, related to caffeine intake, or whether your bra is fitting properly. Examine how you carry a bag or purse, because this can cause muscular pain on the breast area as well. However, it’s probably a good idea to get checked out just in case.”
21. When giving yourself a breast exam, how can you tell which bumps and lumps are normal and which ones are cause for concern?
“People get accustomed to what is THEIR normal. It’s important to check your breasts at the same time each month just as your period is ending because that’s when they’ll be the least bumpy and lumpy. Sudden changes that come about that might spark concern.”
22. Is there anything you can do to increase nipple sensitivity in a good way?
“There may be some topical agents that can be used (menthol, peppermint oil). Mindfulness goes a long way when it goes to nipple sensitivity. But there’s nothing on a medical basis that’s available yet.”
23. Is it okay if one of the nipples is bigger than the other?
“If this is baseline, then yes, that’s probably just your individual variation. But, if over time they’re becoming discrepant — that should probably checked out.”