Breasts undergo changes as a woman grows older. Here is a comprehensive breast health guide at different ages.
Healthy breasts are very important for overall well being of a woman. Breasts start budding as a girl enters her teens and with time, they grow larger. Different phases such as pregnancy, the breastfeeding months and menopause bring a lot of changes in the breasts. Here is an overview of breasts at different ages.
Through the 20s and 30s
In her 20s, a woman's breasts are well toned, have good elasticity and are firm. Tissues constitute a major part of breasts and there is very little fat. As a woman progresses towards her 30s, she enters a phase of life which is characterized by childbirth and subsequently breastfeeding.
Breast Health Trivia:
Studies have shown that 1 in every 37 women stand the risk of being affected with breast cancer after the age of 50
Right breast is always slightly larger than the left breast. This is common in all women
During pregnancy, breast size increases because the mammary glands are enlarged and active. Breasts remain large during the breastfeeding months as well. Once the baby is weaned and breasts undergo involution, they shrink. Extra hormones which are produced in the body during pregnancy and breastfeeding time may cause the tenderness and soreness in the breasts.
During these two decades, women might feel lumpiness or some kind of fibrocystic growth. Usually, these are benign and happen due to the heavy hormonal changes. The probability of breast cancer before the age of forty is very low. However, baseline mammogram and annual breast checkups should be done after the age of 35.
Sagging of breasts could be a problem during and after the breastfeeding months. Usually, with exercise and loss of weight gained during pregnancy, breasts regain their firmness up to some extent. However, some sagging is experienced afterwards.
Through the 40s
As a woman enters her 40s, tissue content begins to decrease and fat content begins to increase in the breasts. Sagging or drooping is more pronounced after 40 because breasts begin to lose their elasticity. Also, breasts cysts are very common during this decade.
Fluid filled sacs feel like lumps and might cause pain. However, a mammogram is necessary in order to distinguish between a benign cyst and a cancerous lump. The chances of breast cancer increases during this decade and annual mammograms are compulsory. Breast Ultrasound might also be recommended by doctors because an ultrasound gives a much better picture of the cysts.
Every woman should perform her personal monthly breast examinations. Another common problem during this period is atypical ductal hyperplasia. If a woman is diagnosed with this condition, she needs to be doubly guarded against breast cancer.
Through the 50s and 60s
Her 50s are the years when a woman undergoes menopause. The hormonal activity causes tissues to decline drastically and breasts become fattier. As a result, breasts shrink in size and they lose their elasticity. The risk of cancer is the highest in this age. Any lump or cyst should not go un-investigated. Women who come from families with cancer history should be very careful right from their early forties.
Another important aspect is to keep weight under check. Women who maintain normal body mass index are safer from the risk of breast cancer as compared to obese and overweight women.
While tenderness and soreness in breasts in the week following menstruation is normal in younger women, more attention needs to be paid on such problems as women get older. It is vital to understand one's breasts and be guarded against diseases such as breast cancer or tumor.