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Facts About Your Breasts: From Lumps, Nipple Sizes and Shapes

by in Lifestyle on 1st April, 2019

*This is a series dedicated to helping us understand our bodies a little more. It is so important to honour and look after our bodies as women, as they do so much. Our bodies are an Amanah entrusted to us from Allah and a gift. That is why it is incredibly important to enlighten ourselves, educate, and learn the ins and outs no matter how embarrassing or uncomfortable. Our health must always come first.*

As a Muslim woman, breasts have always been uncomfortable for me to discuss. I used to think it was part of modesty to never speak about them, understand them or even look at them. Mostly because no one told me it was ok to ask questions and to observe my own body, and talk about my body. But growing up, my sudden adolescent breast development, helped me to understand the importance of getting to know our bodies, as 1 we can start to freak out about medical issues that are not really there, 2 it is normal if your breasts look different, breasts have different sizes and shapes, and it doesn’t make you any less beautiful if your breasts don’t look like the ones you might have seen on tv.  Even after adolescent breast development mine never truly ‘came in’ how I wanted them to. They were humble to me, so much so, I was ashamed of going into women’s underwear shops like Ann Summers, as I felt like I simply didn’t belong, as I had to use cup bras and relied on padding and support. It made me feel like less of a woman.

Why is it important to know the shape, feel and size of our breasts and nipples? Because, self-diagnosis and worry as a result of not being educated on our bodies, can lead to a lot of unnecessary stress. Likewise, lack of awareness and knowledge surrounding our bodies can also lead to illnesses if they are not treated. I remember finding a lump in my breast once, I was very worried about it, so I booked an appointment with my GP to check my breast. It turned out I was still growing, and my breasts were quite lumpy during the time. My GP told me to take a feel of them, to understand that this was just the way my breasts were at the time, so as to not worry myself in the future about any lumps I might feel.

During the 60’s in the medical profession, women’s breasts were a key identifier in learning more about her health in general. However, this was abolished later on, due to the fact that women had many different sizes, colours, and shapes of breasts, therefore,  a single unifying canonical assessment couldn’t possibly take place.

Breast shape

Breasts are defined as either of the pair of mammary glands extending from the front of the chest in pubescent and adult females (1). In adolescents, breast growth is primarily caused by the secretion of estrogen from ovaries.”

According to the research of Claire McWeeney, content manager at Clue, there are said to be 9 key breast shapes, defined by experts at Thirdlove a startup in San Fransisco that set up a dictionary that defines breast shapes to help women identify theirs.  I am sure this list is a starting basis,as many women may deviate from this, as Allah created us uniquely. So do not fret if you cannot relate.

9 breast shapes

  • Asymmetrical: breasts are not the same size
  • Athletic: wider and muscly
  • Bell shape: thinner top, rounder bottom
  • East-west: nipples point outwards
  • Relaxed: hang downwards
  • Round: fully circular
  • Side set: further apart outwards
  • Slender: narrow and hang downwards
  • Teardrop: slightly more round at the bottom

“The nipples are said to be defined as the “protuberance of a mammary gland which in the female the lactiferous ducts open and milk can be drawn” (2). It is surrounded by the areola, a ring of pigmented skin.

4- 8 nipple types

The main definitions for nipple shape are said to be divided first into 4

  • flat
  • protruding
  • inverted
  • unclassified (multiple or divided).
  • It’s also possible to have one breast with a protruding nipple and the other with an inverted.

So dermatologist and paediatrician Dr. Tsipporta Shainhouse, did an interview with Seventeen magazine, she identified the following types of nipples.

  • Bumpy: montgomery glands are prevalent
  • Flat: nipples blend into the areolas
  • Hairy: hair growth on areolas
  • Inverted†: nipples retract inward to the areola
  • Protruding: nipples extend outwards from areolas
  • Puffy: the nipple and areolas form a unison raised mound
  • Supernumerary: extra nipple
  • Unilateral inverted: one nipple retracts inward to the areola

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Key facts to take into consideration

  • It is normal to have nipple hair
  • The average nipple only grows as large as a ladybird
  • Nipple pain is common amongst women
  • Nipples can change in size particularly during pregnancy
  • Report abnormal nipple discharge, discharge from nipples can indicate bad health, it can mean concerns like:  hypothyroidism and cysts, as well as things like medication changes. If you get a bloody discharge make sure to consult your doctor as it may be something more serious.
  • There is a rare condition called athelia which can cause someone to be born without nipples.
  • It is possible to have multiple nipples, this is called supernumerary nipples,  and 1 in 18 people may have it.
  • Nipples can and do chafe, and crack.
  • your nipples can change colour
  • you should have little bumps around your nipples, these are called Montgomery glands, and they produce a secretion called lipoid fluid to help keep the entire areola and nipple area more lubricated and comfortable.
  • Breastfeeding women may spontaneously leak milk when thinking about or even hearing their babies.

Breast lumps what should I be looking for?

  • According to breast cancernow.org, pain in your breasts are not normally a sign of breast cancer, but it can be if it is associated with other symptoms.
  • If you find any lumps that are not or have not been there before it is worthwhile to investigate a little more.
  • If you can feel a lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest or armpit, you may not necessarily see it.
  • Look for any change or shape in the breast, bare in mind if you are still growing, this may not necessarily apply to you.
  • Change to skin texture, like puckering or dimpling in the skin
  • Change in colour, your breast may look red or inflamed
  • Nipple change, like all of a sudden they become inverted
  • Rash or crusting of the nipple
  • Nipple discharge

How often should I check them?

Check your breast regularly, there is no hard and fast in how often you should be checking them. This could range from every month or every few months, just make sure you do check them. This ensures that if there is anything wrong, doctors can act quickly and hopefully can treat you before it develops further. The main thing is, this is your body look after it, understand it, and help it when it is giving you signs that something is not right, you are in control.

I hope these tips were helpful, remember to do research responsibly, to speak to your doctor directly, as every body is different, and try to stay calm at all times.

Amaliah Anonymous

Amaliah Anonymous

This piece was written by a member of the Amaliah community. If you would like to contribute anonymously, drop us an email us on [email protected]