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Breast Health for Women

Updated on February 16, 2008

Love Those Boobs!

We live in a society that is obsessed with boobs. The ideal woman seems to have two perfectly matched, erect, bouncy, and, at least, C cup breasts. And, no way do they have stretch marks. Women who don't live up to these expectations (which happens to be most women) might feel like something is wrong with them.

The truth is that every woman has a unique set of breasts; and, each one of those breasts is unique. Our breasts are diverse in shape and size. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having boobs that are different sizes, have stretch marks, or don't stick firmly out.

It does happen that a woman will have a size discrepancy that is striking—which can cause some psychological pain. Other women have such large breasts that it causes back pain and discomfort. These can lead to healthy decisions for breast surgery. However, many women choose to have surgery because they want to live up to this ideal image of how women should look.

Why Do Breasts Exist?

Many women think their breasts exist for the pleasure and benefit of someone else. Have you ever heard someone tell a woman not to breast feed because it will “ruin her breasts”? Symbolically, breasts represent nurturing. The act of nurturing is about giving and taking; yet, when women find that their breasts aren’t bringing them any pleasure, but only there for the pleasure of others, women miss out on a powerful relationship they can have with their bodies. While it is perfectly normal and acceptable for women to allow others to take pleasure in their breasts, it is even more important for women to find pleasure in their own breasts.

Women tend to be givers. But, when women give all the time without taking the time to care for themselves, they begin to feel stressed. Research has associated women who suffer from stress (whether it is from job loss, divorce, or bereavement) with an increased risk for breast cancer.

So, why do breasts exist? They exist for the pleasure and benefit of the women they belong to. Offering them to others for pleasure can also bring pleasure to the women they belong to.

Anatomy of Breasts

Breasts are glandular organs that are sensitive to hormonal changes in the body. They undergo cyclical changes that synchronize with a woman’s menstrual cycle. The female breast is designed to provide nourishment to babies. A woman’s breasts also provide sexual pleasure for the woman. In fact, breasts are connected with the female genital system.

Breasts and nipples come in all sizes as shapes. And, most women have one breast that is slightly smaller than the other—that’s right, it’s totally normal.

How to Do a Partner Self Breast Exam

Breast Self-Exams

Self exams are very important for every woman to perform on a regular basis because you need to learn how your breasts feel. If you are familiar with your breasts, it will be easier to recognize when something changes.

The best time to do a self-exam is right after your menstrual period ends. If you feel uncomfortable doing a self-exam, ask your doctor to talk you through it at your next appointment. You will feel more confident about doing it if you have had some professional guidance.

Self-exams are a must do for every woman, but don’t let them give you a false sense of security. You still need to visit your doctor regularly for optimum health.

Benign Breast Symptoms

If you notice a lump, cyst, or nipple discharge, you need to consult with your doctor. Remember that finding something like this does not mean you have breast cancer. Many lumps and cysts are benign. A lot of women go to their doctor because of pain in their breasts. Cyclic mastalgia is breast pain that comes and goes with the menstrual cycle. It is often caused by hormonal fluctuations, excessive caffeine intake, or stress. Cyclic mastalgia is not a risk factor for breast cancer.

Breasts are sensitive to hormonal changes, but women are encouraged to tell their doctors about any lumps they find.

Fibrocystic Breast Disease

In the 1970s and 1980s, there were studies that suggested women with fibrocystic breast disease were two to three times more at risk for breast cancer. However, the National Cancer Association Consensus Committee discovered in 1985 that this is not true. In fact, most of what is called fibrocystic breast disease is actually the normal changes in breast anatomy—it is not associated with breast cancer.

Breasts are composed of fat and tissue. The ratio of tissue to fat changes, so some areas of the breast will seem more dense than others. Most women experience fibrocystic changes in their breasts. Bear in mind that it isn’t really classified a disease, and many doctors now refer to it as fibrocystic breast changes.

Nipple Discharge

It might sound odd, but nipple discharge is not necessarily something to worry about. Nipple discharge mostly occurs after nipple stimulation, and it isn’t dangerous. As a gland, your breast can naturally produce fluid. The kind of discharge can vary depending on the situation. You should be sure to note down the details—thick or watery; the color; whether it happens on its own, or when you squeeze it; etc.—so your doctor can have all of the information.

Remember that nipple discharge is rarely a sign of serious illness, but don’t hesitate to have anything checked out by your doctor.

Breast Cysts

Breast cysts are fluid-filled lumps. Cysts can’t be identified by an exam alone. Your doctor will perform a procedure called FNA, where the fluid is drawn out with a thin needle. If the fluid looks bloody, your doctor may choose to have the fluid further analyzed. If blood is not present, the fluid is discarded. The lump caused by the cyst will most likely disappear on its own after the liquid has been aspirated. If the lump returns, be sure to contact your doctor.

Cysts will come and go with your periods, often resolving on their own.

Bra Size Chart

Courtesy of
Courtesy of

What You Can Do to Help Relieve Breast Pain

There are definitely things you can do help alleviate breast pain. Don’t feel as though you have to do all of the suggestions listed below—the last thing you want is to add any stress to your life. Do what feels right. Above all, include your doctor in any decision you make.

Eliminate Caffeine

Caffeine can cause overstimulation of breast tissue for some women. Eliminating, or even cutting back, can help relieve some of your breast pain symptoms. However, this varies from woman to woman, so do a trial run (for one menstrual cycle) to see if it affects you.

Eliminate Dairy Products

Like the elimination of caffeine, do a trial run for this (but not at the same time as the caffeine trial) to see if it works for you. If you find that it hasn’t helped after a month, go ahead and reintroduce dairy into your diet.

Minimize Estrogen

Breast tissue is sensitive to high-fat, high-carb diets, which raise estrogen levels. High estrogen levels stimulate breast tissue, causing breast pain for some women. Soluble fiber from vegetable sources can help your body get rid of excess estrogen. Making changes to your diet, adding cruciferous vegetables, like kale, cabbage, and broccoli, and soy foods, like tofu, miso, and tempeh, can reduce breast pain, tenderness, and swelling.


There is debate about the effectiveness of supplements. Again, be sure to try it out, see if it helps, and consult your doctor.

Evening Primrose oil and gamma linolenic acid may help breast tenderness by stemming the inflammation.

Omega-3 fatty acids, like fish oil, walnut oil, flaxseed oil, and sesame oil, should help with breast pain.

Change Bras

Make sure your bras fit properly. A bra that is too tight, not providing enough support, or an underwire that cuts off circulation can create a lot of breast pain. Go get fitted!

Castor Oil Packs

Applying castor oil packs to the breasts a few times a week for one hour can reduce or eliminate breast pain. After the first two or three months, maintain this treatment by using the pack once a week.

Know Your Breasts

Monthly self-exams will keep you familiar with your boobs. Keep a calendar, noting differences or changes you experience. Be sure to track your menstrual cycle as well so you can recognize any patterns.

A Message to Women

Love yourself. Love your breasts. And, respect your body. You deserve it. There are things that are out of our control, but we can make the best out of the things we can control. So, don’t forget to nourish yourself. You may be a giver, but remember to give to yourself too. Breast health is important, but so is your psychological health.


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    • profile image

      Andre 4 years ago

      Breast cancer aenerawss programs are everywhere but are they working and if they are working, do we need them anymore? This article explains why breast cancer aenerawss programs might be self-limiting.

    • profile image

      angelica 5 years ago

      hi ! im angelica 18 years of age . i want to ask is there any herbal medicine that can cure breast cyst ?? it si painful .. i cant concentrate to my studies beacause of this problem.

    • profile image

      lovevinis 6 years ago

      very gud informative hub.women all over world shud read this info

    • profile image

      Breast Reduction Sydney 7 years ago

      Fantastic advice and message for women all over the world! In some instances there can be complications and problems caused by overbearing pendulous breasts that have negative effects on your health. In these instances it can be worthwhile to look into breast reduction surgery as a way to prolong good health.

    • profile image

      Ann, acne no more specialist 7 years ago

      Women need to be aware of their breasts. Breast cancer can happen to anyone. Be sure to conduct a breast self examination every month if you can. A week after your menstruation would be the best time to do it. Another thing, breastfeeding is good for the baby. It gives babies a lot of nutrients they need.

    • profile image

      frazier crabtree 7 years ago

      since we found your site with this chart on it my girlfriend has felt better becasuse she got fitted and she went from 44C to 44D and she has let me touch them a lot more

    • profile image

      BHAVYA 7 years ago

      I m having pain on my breast,like yellow ,white and water will come from my nipple, and iot enlarge why? i m not yet married ?

    • profile image

      nthmost 7 years ago

      Good article, but you do NOT want to recommend soy foods to women who are having problems with breast soreness. Soy contains potent phytoestrogens that act just like the estrogen you are telling people to minimize!

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Thanks for the great information. I have cystic breast and it if often hard to determine an unnatural lump.

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Thanks you so much for this important hub on breast health.

    • brandyBachmann profile image

      brandyBachmann 8 years ago

      great information you have here and thanks for sharing what you know. it's much better when we, women take extra care and precaution in taking care of our bodies especially the breasts.

    • fits4life profile image

      Cherri Brown-Jett 8 years ago from Richmond

      This is a very informative hub. Everyone should take a look at this. Early detection is the secret to fighting breast cancer. You also have other great resources here. Nice job, and thank you for sharing this.

    • profile image

      luckyboy4321 8 years ago from Karachi

      your article is very nice. i like it and i also join your followers.

    • stranded07 profile image

      stranded07 8 years ago from Quezon City, Philippines

      Nice hub. We should love our own breast more!

    • profile image 8 years ago from

      A nice flow of information regarding anatomy and health of breast. Breasts are really meant for nurturing the world beside being a source of sexual pleasure. Every women including men should do their breast exam as breast cancer can attack anyone without discriminating the sex and age groups. Despite of lots of breast awareness campaign the breast cancer is still a major cause death in women all over the world. The only remedy is to have a proper awareness about the breast cancer.