My Breasts and I: What’s normal and what’s abnormal…

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As ladies our breasts go through changes when we have our period, when we’re pregnant or breastfeeding, and when we go through puberty and its flip side, menopause. But outside of these times, what’s normal and when should you check in with your doctor?

See Also: 5 Best and Worst Things to Eat while Breastfeeding

Nipple Discharge

This includes any fluid that comes out of your nipple. It can happen during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It can even continue up to 2 years past the time you stop nursing. This is all normal.

A milky-white leakage from both breasts can also happen before menopause. This is due to hormones. It’s not uncommon.

But if the discharge is bloody, greenish, or clear, or if it affects only one breast, if there’s a lump, or if it happens without prodding, see your doctor, whether you’re in menopause or not. The cause could be an infection, a sac filled with fluid called a cyst, other lumps that aren’t cancer (such as fibroadenomas), or cancer.

Lumps

Try not to worry. But do see your doctor to find out what it is. This is especially important if you notice large lumps in your armpit or if the bumpy area doesn’t go away after 6 weeks.

Most breast lumps — more than 80% — aren’t cancer. Most of the time, they show up when you have your period or are nearing menopause. They can be small or large in size and feel hard or squishy. Many are harmless cysts filled with fluid.

See Also: The Breast Struggle

Colour and Texture Changes

If the skin around your breasts becomes dimpled, itchy, scaly, or red, you should check in with your doctor. She may just keep on eye on this or order a biopsy — removing a small piece of tissue — to make sure everything is OK.

Soreness and Tenderness

It could just be “that” time of the month. A lot of women feel this way before or during their periods. This is normal and usually, the pain goes away on its own. You should get it checked out if the pain gets worse, or if it’s in one specific area of your chest, or if it affects your daily routine (like working out or picking up your kids).

Things that can cause breast pain include birth control pills, large cup size, and hormones. During your exam, your doctor may consider whether it might help to change the type of birth control pills (if you’re on them), or adjust your hormone therapy (if you take it for menopause symptoms). For some types of breast pain, it may help to cut down on caffeine.

 

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