Thursday, January 24, 2013
Are your breasts normal?
Ever feel like your breasts have a mind of their own? Hold on to your bra straps-we uncover what's normal and what's not.
If you're like most chicks, you have a love/hate relationship with your rack. The hate part comes in when your boobs act all wacko - for example, they itch at inconvenient times or your headlights go on high alert. These situations cause you embarrassment or, worse, to stress about their health. If that assessment describes you, you're not alone. When Cosmo asked readers if they had any breast issues they needed help solving, we were flooded with responses. Check out the top distressing set situations we uncovered, plus the A, B, C, and DDs of how to deal.
"It's obvious through my clothes that my breasts are two different sizes."
No one has a perfectly matching pair, but a small number of women develop visibly unbalanced breasts, says ob-gyn Christiane Northrup, author of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom. Correct it by buying bras that fit the larger boob, then insert a foam or silicone-gel pad into the smaller cup. A more permanent solution (and one that comes with a huge price tag and possible scarring) is plastic surgery. "You can get the larger breast reduced, put an implant in the smaller one, or do a combo of the two," says surgeon Andrew Da Lio, associate professor of plastic surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
Related: Experts no longer recommend Breast Self Examination as a monitoring tool for cancer
"Sometimes my chest gets incredibly itchy, and I have to scratch - even in public."
First, slather your set with body lotion after you shower. This will keep your skin moisturized, which reduces dryness-induced itching. Next, look for moisture-wicking fabric and breathable microfibers, which are less irritating. Itching plus redness can be a sign of a skin allergy. If you notice this, ease the discomfort with a cortisone cream, and then switch detergent and soap brands to see if that makes a difference. Should you detect a patch of red, scaly skin, you may have a skin yeast infection. Apply an OTC antifungal cream to kill the yeast. But if a scaly sore appears on your nipple and doesn't heal, visit your MD. It can indicate a very rare form of breast cancer.
"My boobs are really saggy and squishy."
With so many chicks sporting gravity-defying bras and up-to-their-chin implants, it's easy to forget that breasts are supposed to sag and feel squishy. But if yours are especially floppy, it probably means that you have a lot more fat in your breasts than glandular tissue, which helps maintain firmness. Another cause: The ligaments that support your set may have become stretched out…kind of like old underwear. Other droop-inducers include breast-feeding and weight loss. And jogging without proper support also may result in sag (not to mention a lot of pain). Since sag is normal, not much can stave it off. Wearing a bra made with adjustable straps and (if you're at least a B cup) underwire will take excess weight off the ligaments. When you work out, put on a sports bra with molded cups to prevent bounce, says Susan Nethero, author of Bra Talk and founder of Intimacy lingerie stores. A better solution: Focus not on how saggy your breasts look but how sexy they make you feel. Wear ultrahot push-up bras, and in bed, enjoy sex positions that let your man stimulate your twins but don't leave them so visually exposed, such as doggie-style or spooning.
"My breasts are shaped funny, like cones."
As with faces and bodies, breasts come in a ton of different shapes, and there's nada you can do to change them permanently. But you can alter their appearance by investing in the right bra. "A slightly padded contour bra that reshapes the breasts by pushing them up or creating cleavage can mask whatever shape issue you're uncomfortable with," says Nethero. For conical boobs, try on bra styles that come with molded cups, which will make your twins look more spherical.
"I worry that my areolae are too big and dark."
Areolae are the bull's-eye-like darker patches of skin that surround your nipples. Just like breast size and shape, their appearance varies a lot. They can be as small as a quarter or as wide as a drink coaster. Some are pink, some red, some brown, and some almost black. "The darker your skin tone, the darker your areolae will be," says Dr. Greene. Pregnancy hormones also turn them dark, and they may stay that way after the birth. If you're self-conscious about their size, there's a type of surgery - areola reduction - that can make them smaller, but not without such side effects as scarring and possible problems breast-feeding. But instead of adjusting your areolae, you may want to adjust your attitude. Truth is, most men find areolae of any shape and size to be a turn-on.
Related: Breast milk still best for babies
"My breasts feel so lumpy that I cringe when they're touched."
All boobs are a bit lumpy. It's more pronounced during your preperiod week, especially if you have fibrocystic breast disease, a condition triggered by hormone changes that causes your breasts to swell, get tender, and ache, says Miriam Greene, MD, clinical assistant professor of ob-gyn at NYU School of Medicine. Caffeine makes you retain fluid, so cutting back before your period may help reduce swelling. Watch your salt intake too: Sodium makes you hold in water. But if you detect a lump in a fixed spot that doesn't change with your cycle, see your gyno. It's rare, but it may signal breast cancer.
"I hate looking at my breasts - I have stretch marks."
Stretch marks are thin red or whitish streaks that often appear when the skin on your twins has been stretched by a growth spurt, such as during puberty and pregnancy or after gaining weight. Most women get them, but how many you develop depends on your skin's elasticity and genetics. The bad news: They never go away, though studies say using a Retin-A cream daily for a few months will help reduce the redness of new marks. Luckily, over the years, they will fade closer to your normal pigment. And don't get too worked up about your guy noticing them; men aren't exactly known for being detail-oriented. When you take off your top, his eyes most likely widen at the big-picture sight of your rack…not the pencil-thin lines etched on the skin.
Boobs and clothes don't always coexist well. Here, how to help them get along better.
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You fall out of low-cut tops.
Either the cups are too shallow to contain your girls or the band isn't tight enough and, therefore, rides up your back, causing the cups to dip and your breasts to fly free. A pro at a lingerie shop can fit you and suggest styles.
Your nipples stand at attention.
Hide them (if you wish) inside a light contour bra, which has thinly lined cups to cover up nipple erections. Or try silicone covers that adhere to your peaks and keep headlights under wraps.
Your breasts pop the buttons on your blouse.
Your boobs may be proportionally bigger than your torso, so tops that fit your body don't fit your breasts. If that's the case, button-down shirts are not your best pick. If you must wear them, apply double-sided sticky tape from the inside.