Overall Breast Health
Some women love their breasts regardless of shape, size or form; others choose to ignore them; a few find them annoying and embarrassing. Our breasts fulfill many roles from providing nourishment to babies to sensory pleasure to just being part of our female anatomy. The aging process changes the breast's appearance which can affect how a woman views not just her breasts but herself as a woman.
Overall breast appearance depends on a number of factors including age, genetics, lifestyle and diet. Some factors can be altered, others cannot. While we cannot change our age, gender or family genes, we can practice behaviors and make wise choices to keep our body, and our breasts, at optimal health.
Studies on breast health indicate a number of ways women can maintain healthy breasts.
- Regular, low impact exercise
- Consuming a healthy diet including fruits and vegetables while limiting processed sugar, alcohol and tobacco and increasing Omega 3's.
- Performing regular self exams
- Limiting stress and anxiety
- Getting regular, uninterrupted sleep every night
Each woman is the best advocate for her own health. Making healthy lifestyle choices, being aware of changes, and seeking medical help for questions or concerns is a wise and healthy way to care for yourself and your body.
Changes in the Breast
Many factors can and do influence how the female breast changes throughout a woman's lifetime. Genetics play an important part, as do overall health, lifestyle habits and the inevitable changes that come with aging.
Some women find, as they age, that their breasts become smaller while others see growth. Breasts will sag over the years, sometimes seemingly overnight - gravity affects breast shape as does lessening elasticity of the skin.
While changes in texture and feel can cause a sense of alarm, often those changes are simply due to the aging process. This is why it is essential for every woman to be familiar with her breasts through all stages of life. Sudden changes (such as a lump, dimpling of the skin or nipple discharge) should always be taken seriously and discussed with a medical professional. Even minor concerns should be addressed. A woman's state of mind affects her overall health, so sharing every concern, no matter how small it may seem, is the best way to maintain for both physical and emotional well-being.
While most women have heard that performing regular breast self-exams is important, many choose not to for a variety of reasons. Some don't know how, some are uncomfortable with the idea, and some just forget. If a woman chooses not to do a monthly self-exam, she should be sure to have an exam with a medical practitioner on a regular basis.
Studies show that women who perform regular self-exams find the vast majority of breast masses. Knowing the unique contours and normal feel of her breasts is essential to allow a women to discover changes more quickly. Breasts change over a woman's lifetime - in size, shape feel, so it is important to stay in tune with these changes, and discuss them with a medical professional.
A new pain in the breast, unrelated to the menstrual cycle, is not something to panic over but it is reason to check with a medical professional. Cysts are fluid-filled sacs which can appear suddenly and may be painful. They are common during perimenopause (the years leading up to menopause) and should be checked out by your physician.