6 things that happen to your breasts as you age
Most women experience changes in their breasts caused by their monthly cycle, and during pregnancy and the times when they are breastfeeding. You can also expect your breasts to change as you get older. Here’s what’s likely to happen:
They lose firmness
It’s normal that hormone changes make your breast tissue less glandular and more fatty as you get older. This will make them feel less firm and full from perimenopause onwards.
They may develop lumps
As you age, it’s possible that you will develop abnormal growths in your breasts. They are often harmless, such as cysts, but they might also be a sign of something more serious, such as breast cancer.
Especially around the time of your menopause, it’s common to develop cysts. These are harmless lumps filled with fluid. However, if you do find a lump, don’t wait to be offered your routine screening: visit your GP to rule out breast cancer.
They change size
Some women will notice that there’s a wider space between their breasts and that the breasts themselves have shrunk in size. Other women will find that their breasts get bigger if they put on weight.
It is a good idea to get measured when you buy a new bra, as your size might have changed considerably. It’s not unusual to go up or down a whole cup size.
They change shape
Falling oestrogen levels at the menopause make breast tissue dehydrated and less elastic, so breasts can lose their rounded shape and begin to sag. The change in shape can leave you with nipples that point downwards. You may find your breasts start to look different by becoming elongated, stretched or having a flatter appearance.
While some change is very likely, it’s also a good idea to make sure you have a well-fitting sports bra if you are doing exercise to help prevent sagging.
They stop having their monthly changes
On the plus side, as menopause brings your monthly cycle of hormonal changes to an end, you will stop having any of the regular premenstrual breast lumps, pain or nipple discharge that you used to have.
They get screened
Between the ages of 50 and 70, you will be invited every three years for a routine mammogram to screen for breast cancer. At this screening, your breasts will be x-rayed one at a time and the results sent to you and your GP within two weeks.
However, it’s also important to continue with regular breast checks and be aware of any changes that you need to get checked out by a doctor.
Warning signs include:
Swollen or red breasts
If you are worried about the health of your breasts, visit your GP. Alternatively, Benenden members can speak to a GP around the clock for advice. Find out more.