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Breast development in girls begins around 10 to 11 years of age although sometimes it might be earlier or later. They are essentially made up of milk producing glands and ducts that carry the milk to the nipple. These glands and ducts are supported by a framework of fat and fibrous tissue which give the shape and contour to the breast. The ovaries produce a hormone called oestrogen and progesterone, which contribute to the development of milk producing glands and ducts with the supporting fat.

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions over what is a normal breast.

The breasts naturally come in many different shapes and sizes. Like no two individuals are alike (except probably twins) no two pairs of breasts are identical.

During pregnancy, a woman’s breasts will get much bigger and may double in size, as the milk producing cells multiply and the ducts develop and expand. The nipples get darker in colour and all these changes happen in response to various hormones that are produced when she is pregnant. As we age, all our body tissues begin to lose their elasticity, and the breasts tend to sag.

During a woman’s lifetime there are many disorders that affect breast. In the younger age group, lumps that are called fibroadenomas are very common. During breast feeding, breast infections like mastitis or breast abscess may form. As the woman gets older, she may develop cysts which come and go, particularly around the menopausal age or develop a breast cancer. A healthy awareness about one’s own breast is important. What it means in practice is getting used to the appearance and texture of one’s own breast. When you know what is normal, then abnormal becomes easy to spot.