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23 Things Everyone With Boobs Needs To Know

It's the breast thing you'll read all day. Sorry.

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1. Most people have lumpy, bumpy boobs.

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The fancy medical term for this is fibrocystic breast changes, and it refers to breast tissue that's particularly lumpy, with little fluid-filled cysts. It used to be called fibrocystic breast disease, but it's actually something that affects more than half of women at some point, so doctors dropped the word "disease," Dr. Sandhya Pruthi, an internist specializing in breast cancer prevention research at the Mayo Clinic, tells BuzzFeed Life.

You'll probably notice more lumps, breast pain, and tenderness as you approach your period, and it's most common between the ages of 20 and 50 (it usually calms down after menopause). Basically, it's totally normal and nothing to worry about. But if the pain gets worse or you notice new lumps that feel hard, irregular, and immovable, check it out with your doctor.

2. Coffee can make your boobs more sensitive.

3. Your workout could give you boob pain.

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That achy breast pain might actually be muscle soreness behind your boob, says Pruthi. So if you've been doing lots of pushups or chest exercises, it could be your pectoral muscles that are really hurting.

4. Or your boobs could hurt for tons of different reasons.

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Hormones are the common cause — whether it's a normal fluctuation from your cycle or pregnancy or a sensitivity to the estrogen in birth control pills or hormone therapy, says Pruthi. Some people are more sensitive to estrogen's effects than others, so it really depends on the person.

But boob pain can also be caused by a lot of movement with an unsupportive bra, or you might be mistaking breast tenderness for pain on the chest wall or ribcage, says Pruthi. If it persists, gets worse, or only occurs in one breast, check that out with your doctor.

5. Nipplegasms exist.

6. Boob size is pretty much all genetics and weight.

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Whether you're an A cup or DD cup typically comes down to DNA and overall body size, says Pruhti. Since breasts contain fatty tissue, their size tends to go up and down when you gain and lose weight.

7. Anyone with breast tissue can get breast cancer.

8. More than 80% of people who get breast cancer don't have any family history.

9. Nipples and areolae can come in all shapes, colors, and sizes.

10. Your boobs won't automatically get bigger with birth control.

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Some people notice an increase in size while others stay the same, says Pruthi. Again, it depends on your weight, genetics, and how sensitive you are to the effects of the hormones in your birth control (or if your birth control method contains hormones at all).

11. Your boobs are made up of a few different things.

12. Your breast density is the relative amount of functioning tissue to fatty tissue.

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You've probably heard of dense breasts, which can be harder to read with a mammogram. This means that there's more functioning tissue (like milk ducts, lobules, and connective tissue) than fatty tissue. And your breasts actually become less dense as you get older, since you're producing less estrogen, says Pruthi. There's no way to know your breast density without a mammogram, but your doctor should tell you if you have them.

13. Saggy boobs are pretty much unavoidable.

14. Breast augmentations are still the top cosmetic surgery procedures.

15. Breastfeeding isn't always super easy and chill.

16. Your nipples can leak even if you're not breastfeeding.

17. Knowing what your normal boobs feel like is more important than a monthly self check.

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there's no evidence that monthly breast self-exams are effective in screening for breast cancer. BUT most breast cancer experts strongly suggest feeling yourself up to know what your normal is. This is called breast self-awareness, and it's all about knowing what your boobs typically look and feel like throughout the day and throughout your menstrual cycle.

There are a few ways to do this, but Pruthi suggests making a sweeping motion towards your nipple in a clock-face pattern. So starting at your collarbone (which would be 12 o'clock) and sweeping down to your nipple, then 1 o'clock, 2 o'clock, etc. The best way to stay on top of what's normal is to get familiar with your boobs once a month, ideally a week after your period (so you're not dealing with more fibrocystic breast changes).

You're typically just going to be getting used to your boobs so you know when something is off. But if you happen to feel something hard, irregularly shaped, or fixed (it's not moving with your breast tissue but staying in one place), tell your doctor. Remember: These aren't hard and fast rules, says Port, but they may help you distinguish when something is off.

18. Chest exercises won't actually give you a perkier pair.

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Sure, this could build up the pectoral muscles, which sit behind your breasts. This ~could~ lift the chest wall (and maybe make your set appear a little larger), but there's no proof that it can actually affect perkiness, says Pruthi.

19. The side of your boob could be more sensitive than your nipples.

20. Most people with breasts should start getting mammograms at age 40, but that's not always the case.

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The American Cancer Society, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network all recommend annual mammograms for women 40 and older. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force does not recommend regular screening before age 50, but suggests making an individual decision with your doctor about when to begin screening. They do recommend mammograms every other year starting at age 50.

So why all the contradictions and controversy? Well, some people worry that too many mammograms lead to unnecessary anxiety and false positives, while others value the added emphasis on early detection. Pruthi says she goes along with the recommendation to screen annually starting at 40, but she makes sure to counsel patients on the risks and limitations of mammograms — like that they don't find everything, and they could possibly lead to false positives or unnecessary biopsies.

Some people at a higher risk of breast cancer may need to be screened even earlier. If you have a first-degree relative (mom, dad, sister, brother) with breast cancer, it's recommended that you start getting mammograms 10 years before the age that they were when they were diagnosed. (So if your mom was 45 when she got breast cancer, get screened at 35.)

NOTE: There are not explicit recommendations for transgender individuals, but if you have breasts or you're taking hormones to transition to a woman, talk to your doctor about how often you should be screened.

21. Breast cancer screening isn't always done by mammograms.

22. Drinking less alcohol and maintaining a healthy weight are two major ways to cut your risk of breast cancer.

23. Most boobs aren't the exact same size.

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