The best way to familiarize yourself with the changes of your breasts would be to do a self exam each month. By performing the monthly self exam on your breasts, you will get to know the area better than, say, your health care provider – this will help you to be able to spot any changes. It is also important that you have a regular annual appointment scheduled in order to document your breast health. Between puberty and menopause, a woman is going to spot a large amount of changes in their breasts. The changes are affected by exercise, hormones and diet. Most of the changes are completely natural and healthy.
Puberty (Teen Years)
During the teen years, a monthly cycle will begin as the body starts to enter the maturing process. During this time, you may notice some changes in your skin and you will start to develop curves. The hair may even change the color and/or texture. Also, during this time, the breast tissue is developing and to start with, it may be firm and dense, especially if you are small-breasted.
It is never too early to know the health history of your family. Ask your female relatives, such as your grandmother, aunts and sisters if they have ever had any problems with their breasts or regular cysts. If they say “yes,’ it is likely that you may experience this as well. Don’t worry, cysts are benign, but you will need to know where they are and if they come and go.
After your body has prepared itself for motherhood, if you have children and also, if you breastfeed them, more changes will start to appear in your breasts along with the rest of your body. During pregnancy, your breasts may swell up and become tender.
During menopause, you will experience more changes in your breasts. Your estrogen and progesterone levels are going down, so your breast tissue may not feel as firm. Don’t forget to continue your breast exams during this time. Breast tissue that is less dense may have more bumps and lumps, but just remember – 90% of those lumps are benign.
In the end, no matter what age you are, don’t forget to do a monthly breast self exam. This is not something you should do only when you feel like it – you need to keep the exams on a schedule. This really is a matter of life or death.