Breasts are some of the most celebrated and talked about parts of the female form, and it can be easy to forget that your breasts serve a purpose. They were designed to feed your offspring and while this may seem like a simple task, what is going on beneath the surface is actually quite complicated. And with this complexity comes the potential for illness.
It is likely that you receive a very cursory breast exam when you head to the doctor for a check up and you've probably been doing self-exams at home. This is great as these methods do often detect the bumps and lumps that can be a sign of cancer, but there is so much more to breast health. With a better understanding of your breasts' function, you can better take care of them, and yourself, keeping you in perfect health from top to bottom.
Here are just a few ways your breasts can affect your health:
1. Your boobs feel pain.
Some of you may be lucky enough to not experience it, but your breasts can feel pain, especially during or before your period. Known as mastalgia, it can be treated with over-the-counter pain meds, but it may continue to be an issue for as long as you menstruate. If you are on the pill, try switching to a different one. If you have random pain that is not linked to your cycle, it is worth mentioning to your doctor.
2. Your boobs can become infected.
Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue common in lactating women. Bacteria enters the breast through the nipple, breeds and causes infection. With mastitis, the breast becomes swollen and engorged, and you may have aches, chills or a fever. If you suspect mastitis, go see your doctor right away since you will likely require antibiotics.
3. Nipple stimulation releases oxytocin.
Oxytocin is a hormone related to feelings of care and bonding. This, no doubt, goes a long way to helping nursing mothers bond with their babies, but it can have a bonding impact in s*xual scenarios as well. Oxytocin has been shown to reduce anxiety and promote attachment, so perhaps you want to consider giving your nipples a little more love!
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4. Your bra can aggravate breast-area lymph nodes.
Wearing a bra does not cause cancer. However, the tight strap and wire may prevent drainage of the lymph nodes located in your armpits. You can alleviate this situation by going without a bra more often or opting for a looser fit, or wireless bra.
5. Your breasts might produce discharge.
You may not know this, but it is not uncommon for breasts to produce discharge. It can range in colour from white, clear, yellow, green and brown. If you only produce discharge from your nipple when you are being touched, it is likely normal. But if you are noticing your nipples oozing discharge on their own, talk to your doctor so you can rule out a thyroid problem or a benign or malignant tumor as the reason.
6. Breastfeeding has positive effects.
Breastfeeding has a whole host of positive health effects. It can reduce your risk of both cancer and diabetes. While these effects are not dramatic, they are certainly worth keeping in mind if you are trying to decide between breast or bottle.
7. Don't stress. Breast lumps are common.
Benign, non-cancerous, breast lumps are incredibly common in young women. You should certainly tell your doctor right away and have it examined, but try not to stress out about it. The stress of worrying about it is probably far worse for you than the lump itself.
Are you surprised by any of these breast health tidbits?