Are Your Boobs Normal? We Asked An Expert

Yerin Kim
Photo credit: Margaret Flatley

From Seventeen

Chances are, the answer is yes - you have normal boobs! Luckily, most seemingly ~weird~ things about your boobs are totally fine. But maybe you can't help but wonder if that little bump or tiny hair on your boob is concerning.

First things first: breasts come in all different shapes and sizes, and all kinds are beautiful. (Same goes for your nipples!) So for the most part, your boobs are probably fine. But if you still have questions about what is and isn't normal (and we understand why you would), we have answers. Seventeen chatted with Dr. Natasha Bhuyan, family physician at One Medical, about everything you've been wondering about your boobs.

"It's human nature to assume the worst," says Dr. Bhuyan. "But the reality is that breast changes are just a normal part of the human body."

You have sore boobs

Yes! In fact, Dr. Bhuyan says soreness of the breasts is one of her female patients' most common concerns. But before you completely rule out any issues, check if both of your breasts are sore, or if it's just one. "It's more concerning if just one breast is sore," Dr. Bhuyan says.

She also explains that causes for sore breasts can range anywhere from a fluctuation in hormones, change in diet and exercise, an ill-fitting bra, to even caffeine. And since your hormones levels fluctuate during your period, it's common to experience breast pain around that time. In addition, hormonal birth control or too much coffee can cause tenderness in your boobs.

But regardless of the cause, it's probably a good idea to check in with your doc. "If you have sore breasts, it is important to see your PCP (primary care provider) to find out what the cause is and deduce the seriousness of it," says Dr. Bhuyan.

You have lumpy boobs

It depends! You may have heard that finding a lump in your breast could mean breast cancer, but that's not necessarily the case. "When people see changes in their breasts, a common tendency is to think that they could have breast cancer," says Dr. Bhuyan. "Breast cancer can present itself in a lot of different ways and most of the time, it's not breast cancer, but it's still nice to see your PCP just to get that reassurance."

If both of your breasts feel lumpy or ropey and you've always noticed this, your breasts are likely perfectly normal. "Most women do have variation in their breast tissue that just causes lumps and bumps," Dr. Bhuyan says. "Lumps can also mean harmless cysts."

So when should you be concerned? If you feel a new lump that you haven't felt before, you should see a doctor to figure out what it might be, says Dr. Bhuyan.

One boob is larger than the other

YES! According to Dr. Bhuyan, virtually all women have one breast that is larger than the other, and that's completely OK. It's just how our bodies are designed!

But if you notice a sudden change in your breast size, you should see someone to figure out why, Dr. Bhuyan says. "A sudden change can mean that there's an infection, or it could just mean harmless fatty tissues or cysts."

The shape of your boobs is different from what you've seen

There are so many different boob shapes out there - in fact, according to bra company ThirdLove's breast shape dictionary, women have one of nine different sets of breasts. But the bottom line is, the shape of your boobs is exactly the way it's supposed to be.

Photo credit: Sade Adeyina/Seventeen

If you notice your boobs are a little more droopy than others', yes, that's common, too. Dr. Bhuyan says the shape of our breasts is actually genetic. "Some people have breast tissue that's more dense or some people might have more fatty tissue - it's all normal," she says.

You have bumps on your boobs

For the most part, yes. Around your nipple area (aka the areola), you'll probably see some tiny bumps. These are just natural bumps from hair follicles on your breasts. "Those bumps can change as we get older or throughout the month with our hormonal cycle," Dr. Bhuyan says. "If that area looks different, it's not alarming because it's just part of our natural hormonal changes."

But if you have a new, different bump on your breast, it could be a cyst. Cysts are also harmless - they're just fluid-filled collections that are right underneath your skin, says Dr. Bhuyan. But even though they're super common, it's a good idea to get them treated by a doc. And as tempting as it might be, don't try to squeeze or pop those cysts! If there's an infection inside those bumps or cysts, it can go deeper into your skin.

You should also see your doc if you notice a single solitary bump on your breast skin, or any kind of new bump you haven't seen before, as those bumps could be a sign of breast cancer.

You have nipple discharge

While it's super common for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding to experience nipple discharge, if you don't fall into either category, you should pay a visit to your doctor to find out why.

The causes of nipple discharge can range anywhere from hormonal changes to breast infections or even cancer. However, Dr. Bhuyan says the discharge can come from a lot of unexpected reasons.

"If you have milky nipple discharge or a thin, clear nipple discharge, it's usually a reason that's less concerning," she says. "But if you have bloody nipple discharge, you should immediately see someone to get that evaluated."

You have skin changes on your boobs

If you see skin changes such as puckering skin that looks like dimples or redness in the breasts, you should see your doc to address those issues. Dr. Bhuyan says for young women, the way breast cancer presents itself is usually through pain, skin changes, and redness in the breast area.

Though it's possible you might just have a rash or eczema, which are both pretty harmless BTW, according to Dr. Bhuyan, dimpling or pitting of your skin is a pretty concerning finding. If you see this, make sure to see a doc.

You have skin discoloration on your boobs

It can be. One of the main reasons for discoloration in your skin is an infection. "You can get skin infections anywhere, not just on your breast," Dr. Bhuyan says. "While infections are common, discoloration could also be an underlying cause of breast cancer." So if you see discoloration or inflammation in your breast skin, it can be helpful to see your doctor.

You have boob hair

Absolutely! Hormones or genetics are usually what cause hair to grow on your breasts, and certain medical conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can cause excessive hair growth as well. But Dr. Bhuyan reassures that it's not anything to worry about.

And if you want to tweeze or shave those hairs, it's completely safe to do so. But if you want to leave them as they are, that's fine, too.

Bottom line: if you're worried about something going on with your boobs, it's totally OK to chat with your doctor to feel comfortable about your body and give yourself reassurance!

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