Center for Young Women's Health

Normal Breast Development

 

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My breasts are uneven. Is this normal?

It's very common for your breasts to grow at different rates while they’re developing. Usually, they'll look about the same size by the time they're done growing. If the size difference bothers you, you can try foam or gel inserts that fit into your bra or bathing suit. These inserts are sold at specialty bra and lingerie shops.

 

Sometimes breasts can still be really uneven (different by more than a cup size) after they’re done developing. It takes about 3-5 years for breasts to finish developing. If you are unhappy about the difference in your breasts' sizes, you can talk with your primary care provider about the benefits and risks of cosmetic surgery.

 

My breasts are very large, and they make my back hurt because they’re so heavy. It’s also hard to exercise, because I get sore breasts. What can I do?

Some girls feel that their breasts are too large. Often, they’re not worried about how they look, but they’re bothered by breast pain, back pain, shoulder pain, dents in the shoulders from bra straps, rashes, skin problems under the breasts, or difficulties with exercising. Girls can also feel badly or self-conscious if they are teased about their large breasts.

 

If your breasts are very large, there are some options that can help.

Is it normal to have hair around my nipples?

Some girls have hair around their nipples. This is completely normal. If the hair bothers you, it's best to cut it with small scissors. Plucking or shaving the hair can cause infection.

 

My nipples point inward instead of out. Is this normal?

If your nipples point inward instead of out, you have “inverted nipples.” Between 10%-20% of all girls have inverted nipples on at least one breast. This is normal and will not affect your health in any way. If you have inverted nipples, it's important to keep them clean to avoid getting an infection in the folds of skin around your nipple.

 

If your nipples used to point out but have suddenly turned in, you should make an appointment with your primary care provider.

 

What are stretch marks? Are they normal?

Stretch marks are red spoke-like lines that appear on the skin during times of rapid physical growth (such as puberty or pregnancy). During puberty, stretch marks on the breasts are very common and completely normal. Other common places for stretch marks are on the hips and thighs. Over time, the stretch marks will fade to match your normal skin color.

 

If I have a rash around the nipple area on my breasts, does that mean that my breasts are infected?

Usually, yes. A rash can be a sign of an infection, especially if one breast is swollen and tender, if there’s a discharge, or if you have a fever. You can also get a rash on the skin under your breasts, which is usually either a heat rash or a yeast infection. If any of these signs of infection are present, call your primary care provider. Sometimes a hair root around your nipple area can become infected. When this happens, one or more tiny red bumps appear. The tiny red bumps are called folliculitis.

 

Is breast pain or tenderness normal?

You may feel a tingling or aching in your chest when your breast buds start developing. After you start to get your periods you may notice that your breasts become tender or sore a few days before you get your period each month. Not everyone has soreness. If you're having pain, check with your primary care provider, who may suggest taking medicine (such as ibuprofen) to help with the symptoms.

 

What if I have a discharge coming from my breasts?

A discharge from your breast(s) could mean that your breast(s) are infected, that a breast duct is dilated (widened), or that you have a hormone imbalance. The discharge may be on just one side or from both breasts. When a milky discharge comes from a young woman's breast when she is not breast feeding, it's called galactorrhea. This condition can result from taking certain medications such as birth control pills or anti-depressants, from being pregnant or recently being pregnant, from low thyroid hormone levels, or rarely from a small benign (not cancerous) pituitary tumor. Your body may be making extra amounts of prolactin, which can cause this white discharge from your nipples. A brown or bloody discharge may come from dilated breast ducts or small polyps in the breast ducts. A small amount of yellow discharge sometimes occurs around the time a girl starts her period. You should see your primary care provider if you have any kind of breast discharge.

 

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Written and reviewed by the CYWH Staff at Boston Children's Hospital

 

Updated: 2/27/2014

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