How much do you really know about breasts? Yes, they come in many different sizes and we have many different names for them but thanks to Cosmopolitan Magazine here are a few facts you may not know:
1. Breasts get fat. In your 20s, your boobs are made up of fat, milk glands and collagen -- the connective tissue that keeps them firm. "But as you age, the glands and collagen shrink and are replaced by more and more fat," explains Laurie A. Casas, a plastic surgeon and associate professor of surgery at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine. Instead of making your bra size go up, however, the added flab can send breasts down, closer to the floor, if you catch our drift. Wearing an underwire bra (whether you're an A-cup or a D) can help fight sagging over time.
2. But they weigh less than you think. That surge in the scale isn't your set's fault: An A-cup clocks in at only a quarter pound; a B, about half a pound; a C, three-quarters of a pound; and a D, around one pound.
3. They're thin-skinned. "Because they were stretched as you developed, breasts have thinner skin than the rest of your body, leaving them susceptible to dryness," says Laurie Polis, a dermatologist in New York City. Keep your pair supple by moisturizing them with a firming cream that stimulates collagen and elastin growth and has UV protection and retinol to prevent wrinkling. Don't ignore your nipples either; they're also prone to dryness. Give them a daily dose of a superemollient moisturizer, like Vaseline or Aquaphor.
4. Stray strands are normal. Almost all women have some degree of nipple hair. "Having 2 to 15 dark, straight strands growing at one time is extremely common," explains Debra Jaliman, M.D., a clinical instructor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. The general rule is, the darker your skin and the hair on your head, the more nipple hair you'll have. If the hair bothers you, waxing it away is fine. But if you have only a few strands, it's easier to tweeze: Clean the area with alcohol, pluck each hair, then wipe down the affected skin with an antibacterial lotion to prevent infection. That should give you a week or two before you have to break out the tweezers again.
5. Each pair has its own point. Not only do nipples come in varying sizes, they also point in different directions. "Whether your nipples go up, down, left or right depends on their structure and where the areolae sit on the breasts," says Dr. Casas. "Some areolae rest a little higher, which can angle the nipples upward. Others rest lower or are closer to the edges of the breasts." Some women even sport a pair that aim in opposing directions.
6. They have their own monthly cycle. "Fluctuating hormones cause your breast tissue to change week by week," explains Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University. In the days after your period, breast tissue feels smoothest, thanks to even hormone levels. Midcycle, your nipples may become more sexually sensitive, due to increased estrogen levels. Finally, the week before and during your period, extra progesterone may leave your set swollen, bumpy and tender. Popping an OTC painkiller and cutting back on caffeine can help quell the ache.
7. There's a right time to take them to the doctor. Because your boobs are at their smoothest and least tender the week after your period, it's the best time to have your gyno check out any unusual lumpiness or swelling. "Your doc will have an easier time diagnosing the problem because it'll be easier to detect something abnormal," says Dr. Hutcherson.
8. Four million of them are fake. About two million women in the United States have breast implants, with 250,000 going under the knife each year. But if you think it's mostly Jenna Jameson wannabes getting boob jobs, read on: The average age of a woman who gets implants is 34, and 90 percent do it after they have had kids. "Most women increase two cup sizes," says Leroy Young, M.D., chair of the breast surgery committee of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. No, they're not always happy with the results: Six percent of women who sport a fake set return for a size adjustment or to have them taken out altogether.
9. But implants still pose health risks. Though research hasn't conclusively linked implants to serious health ills like immune-system disorders or an increased risk of cancer, both silicone (which has been unavailable to most women in the U.S. since 1992) and the far more common saline type can still cause side effects. "In less than 10 percent of cases, either kind can deflate, leak or become wrinkled, requiring another operation to replace the damaged implant," says Dr. Casas. Another complication is called capsular contracture, which is when the scar tissue that naturally forms around implants tightens, causing the breast to feel hard. "This also requires another procedure to fix," she adds. And as with any operation, there's the small but dangerous risk of infection and excessive bleeding.
10. They can get sunburned even if you're not topless. "Bathing suit fabric can be pretty sheer. Your bikini top probably provides only a paltry SPF 5 or 7," says Dr. Jaliman. So slather your girls with sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15 plus UVA and UVB protection each time you hit the great outdoors in your bathing suit. Without it, you'll rack up sun damage such as premature wrinkling and brown spots.
11. They have a T zone. The area above and between your breasts is loaded with oil glands, leaving it especially prone to blackheads and pimples. Also, the larger your set, the more sweat collects, creating an ideal environment for the bacteria that cause blemishes, says Dr. Jaliman. Keep pores perspiration-free by using an absorbent powder under and between your breasts to keep your skin dry. Also, clean your T zone daily and after a workout with antibacterial wipes and apply a toner with a mild salicylic acid. And of course, never sit around in a sweaty sports bra -- it'll trap moisture and cause breakouts.
12. Cleavage has many components. It's not the size of your set that determines your cleavage; breast shape and their position on your torso also count. "Two women can have the same cup size, but one woman's breasts might be fuller in the middle, giving her greater cleavage," says Dr. Casas. Another woman might be only an A or B, but if her boobs are naturally set close together, she'll have deeper décolletage. The width of your torso also affects your depth. If your body is narrow below your shoulders, you'll have an easier time creating a deeper valley between your peaks.
13. Sleep affects your shape. Hitting the sack facedown won't completely deflate your twins, but it can make them misshapen over time. "Pressing your breasts against a mattress all night can, after at least a few years, change their shape," says Dr. Polis. The best snooze style: on your side, with a pillow under them for support as you sleep.
14. They hate jogging as much as you do. Cardio workouts like running and aerobics can cause your breasts to bounce around in a standard spandex sports bra. After a few washings, spandex starts to lose its elasticity, leaving you without adequate support. The solution: Wear a sturdier sports bra that has underwire and molded cups, no matter what your size. It'll minimize bouncing, not to mention breast pain the next day.
15. But the right exercise can give them a little lift. Because breasts contain no muscle, all the workouts in the world won't change your cup size or create killer cleavage. Regularly exercising the pectoral muscle in your chest, however, can strengthen the "box spring" upon which your boobs sit, which will perk up your peaks and create the illusion of cleavage. Push-ups and chest presses are your best boosting bets.
16. Nipples can come in threes. It's not all that freaky for a woman (or a man) to have an extra headlight. This nonfunctioning nipple is usually smaller and located lower on the body than the main pair, and it rarely develops or produces milk (it generally looks more like a freckle than a nipple, which is why many people who have one don't even know it). So how did it sprout? Early in fetal development, many "breast buds" form a U-shaped arc along the chest. Over time, these buds disappear, except for the two that turn into your main pair, says Dr. Casas. Star Mark Wahlberg is rumored to have a third nipple -- which was airbrushed out of his early '90s Calvin Klein underwear ads.
17. Pregnancy can darken nipple pigment. The shift in shade is Mother Nature's way of making sure a baby gets fed, says Alexander Swistel, M.D., director of the Weill-Cornell Breast Center in New York City. "Newborn infants are color-blind, so the darker color serves as a can't-miss bull's-eye for the baby to find its food source." Once you cease breast-feeding, nipples stay darker forever.
18. You get your set from either parent. Can't figure out why you ended up a basic B while your mom barely fills an A-cup and your sister is busting out with a double-D? Check both your parents' family trees. "You have an equal chance of inheriting your shape from either your maternal or paternal side," says Dr. Swistel.
19. The left is usually larger. Like hands, feet and other paired-up body parts, no two breasts are exactly the same size. And though experts aren't sure why, it's your left one that usually has the size advantage, says Dr. Swistel. "The left breast tends to have more tissue. Sometimes it's obvious, but often the difference is so slight, you'd never notice."
20. They grow past puberty. Though your peaks do most of their growing when you're in your teens, "breasts don't reach their full size until a woman is in her early 20s," explains Dr. Swistel. After the quarter-century mark, however, your boobs won't get bigger unless you gain weight, get pregnant (though the increase isn't likely to last) or in some cases, go on the Pill. "Only certain birth-control pill formulations cause breast swelling, and even then you'd have to be especially sensitive to estrogen to experience a change," adds Dr. Swistel.