Despite our collective fascination with boobs, there’s a lot we don’t know about them. There are of course straight-up, textbook facts we’re taught during health and science classes, but what about those casual, seemingly true statements people occasionally make about boobs? Are they accurate?
As a matter of fact, there are a ton of lies about boobs that have been posing as facts and fooling us all. (Not cool, boob lies. Not cool). Now, it’s time for us to put our detective gear on and find out the truth.
Lie: Certain boob/nipple shapes aren’t normal.
“Many people may not see what normal natural breasts look like, and influenced by media images, think that the ideal is a big and perky breast with a small nipple and areola. Many women may even consider surgery to ‘correct’ their breasts, when they are normal all along! The reality is that breasts and nipples come in all shapes and sizes, and as someone who examines women’s breasts all day, every day I can confirm that the variations in normal breasts and nipples are endless.” – specialist breast and oncoplastic surgeon Dr. Jane O’Brien, AKA our hero.
Lie: Estrogen-rich foods (like soy milk and garlic) will make your boobs bigger.
Lie: Having lots of sex will also make your boobs bigger.
Lie: Bras cause breast cancer.
Here’s the deal: people are worried about bras constricting the natural flow of lymph fluid, which helps carry white blood cells and flushes out our bodies’ toxins. According to Dr. Amber Guth, there would be other signs if bras actually did this. Breasts would be swollen and there would be changes in the shape/size of lymph nodes (which you would feel during a routine breast exam). While scientists are still studying breast cancer indicators, many doubt that bras would have any effect on such an issue.
Lie: You can’t breastfeed your baby if you have flat or inverted nipples.
According to International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Becky Flora, “Babies breastfeed, not ‘nipple-feed’, and if a baby is able to take in a good mouthful of breast, most types of inverted or flat nipples will not cause a problem during breastfeeding.” With that being said, certain types of nipples may be harder for babies to latch on to, but persistence, patience, and learning a proper latch-on technique often help in the long run.
Lie: Exercise and diet can alter your boobs.
For those who want to work their way to different boobs – though all boobs are beautiful, in every form – Dr. O’ Brien has this to say: “There’s nothing we can do to make our breasts grow bigger or smaller – or change their shape. But don’t forget that breasts will constantly change while they are developing.”
Lie: Your breasts are destined to be the same size as your mom’s.
The truth: “Breast size, like other physical characteristics, can be genetic,” Dr. Guth revealed, “but not necessarily a direct inheritance from your mother.” In other words: you don’t only get your genes from your mom, so there are many other relatives (and ancestors) who could have an effect on the size of your boobs.
Lie: Your boobs will stop changing at [insert age here].
Every single one of us is a unique human being, which means that our bodies all progress at their own pace. At age 9 to 11, boobs typically begin to grow and are normally fully developed by age 17. However, it’s totally okay if your growth period starts before or after this time. “Your breasts will change at different times of your life – when you have your period, if you have a baby, and when you get older and your periods stop,” explains Dr. O’Brien.
Lie: Sleeping on your side will cause uneven breasts.
Breast asymmetry is actually super common. According to Dr. Arpana M. Naik, “No one really knows what causes breasts to develop differently from one another, but possible contributors include hormonal changes or traumatic injuries.” A skeletal condition such as scoliosis and deformities in the chest wall can also cause breasts to be uneven.
If your breast size suddenly changes (and you were led to believe that sleeping on your side has something to do with it), then you should seek a doctor’s opinion ASAP.
Lie: Your stretch marks will never go away.
If your breasts develop fast, you may get stretch marks (those lines that appear on the skin). However, this is a common occurrence and you definitely aren’t alone. Over time, according to Dr. O’Brien, these markings will fade and blend in to the rest of your skin.
Lie: Sleeping in a bra will definitely keep your boobs perky.
If you’re currently wearing a bra at night, then you know that this can be one uncomfortable feat (or hey, maybe you prefer it). However, Dr. Amber Guth states, “There is certainly no evidence that sleeping in bras is either helpful or harmful. Sagging or changes in the breast are due to a number of factors: Pregnancy and breastfeeding being the most common causes, along with time and gravity.”
Then again, if you like sleeping in your bra, that’s okay, too! Just make sure you’re wearing the right kind of bra! Professional bra fitter, Linda Becker, explains that women “should never sleep in a bra with a wire, it should be a soft-cup bra. Sleeping in a bra with a wire can give you cysts or irritate your breasts.”
To sum up everything we learned: all boobs are beautiful in their own special way.
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