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The Life cycle of your Breast


Discussions on "The Life cycle of your Breast" in "Gynaecology Problems" forum.


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    The Life cycle of your Breast

    Know about your Breast

    PREGNANCY
    Got a bun in the oven? Or planning to cook something up soon? It’s time to put your breasts to use as Mother Nature originally intended. Sure they have plenty of other fun possibilities but their primary function is of course to produce milk for your offspring. So shortly after egg meets sperm your body sends out a signal to start prepping those puppies for action.

    Within the fatty tissues of the breast there’s a whole network of ducts and lobules that are responsible for milk production and delivery, says Julie Gralow, MD, director of Breast Medical Oncology at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. As more hormones course through your body, those ducts and lobules which all lead to the nipple increase in size and number, and as pregnancy progresses all that activity can create tenderness, swelling, tightness, heaviness, and a nice boost to your bra size (not to mention your ego!).

    If you’ve ever heard a new mom using the phrase ‘the size of dinner plates’ you know that pregnancy can also do some wacky things to your nipples and areola, the shaded area surrounding the nipples. Some women may find they darken in color, change in size, or appear more veiny, says JoAnn Pinkerton, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville and a Healthywomen.org board member.

    Small goose bump or pimple-like protrusions sometimes pop up as well. A completely normal symptom of pregnancy says Pinkerton, these oil-producing glands known as Montgomery’s Tubercles enlarge and are believed to secrete an anti-bacterial lubricant that keeps the skin around the nipples healthy and pliable for breastfeeding. While pregnancy definitely does a number on your physical appearance keep in mind each woman is different so you may experience a variety of some or all of these changes throughout the nine months.

    BREAST FEEDING

    The majority of the changes your breasts will go through to prepare for breastfeeding happen well before baby arrives. By the third trimester they're at their largest size and filled with the biggest supply of blood vessels to support the increase in gland production, says Pinkerton. Although suckling is the trigger for milk production many first time moms may be surprised to find their breasts will sometimes leak a bit of fluid a few days before delivery; and in some cases it can even appear a few months before. This first milk called colostrum is a thin opalescent, golden colored fluid that contains more lactalbumin and lactoprotein than the milk you'll produce later on says Pinkerton.

    It's low in fat and in volume—you'll produce it in teaspoons versus ounces— but high in proteins and antibodies that quickly build up your newborn's immunity. Between the first few days and two to three weeks of breastfeeding you'll transition to mature milk which although it has less of these antibodies it still has many important disease-fighting properties.

    Here's a fun fact: You may have heard that when you're lactating it's possible to leak milk during foreplay, especially as arousal increases and/or upon orgasm. Some couples do get turned on by this, but if you're uncomfortable you can always wear a sexy bra with some absorbent nursing pads. But we bet you didn't know women who aren't or have never been pregnant have the potential to lactate during sex with sufficient nipple and breast stimulation!

    This is possible because nipple stimulation leads to the release of oxytocin, the bonding hormone, as well as pitocin which triggers lactation, says Melanie Davis, PhD, an AASECT-Certified Sexuality Educator and a partner in the New Jersey Center for Sexual Wellness in Bedminster. The consistent breast rubbing caused by long-distance running and other high-impact sports can also trigger this response, but the amount of stimulation either sexually or athletically varies among women as does the chance of it ever happening at all says Davis.

    After delivery, if you are feeding or pumping on a regular basis your breasts should remain healthy. When you're not able to express milk it backs up and can cause pain, tenderness, and swelling, but pumping should quickly relieve the symptoms. In very rare cases breastfeeding moms can develop mastitis when the milk ducts become blocked. Symptoms, which include redness, pain, tenderness, and breasts that feel warm to the touch, generally respond to antibiotics but sometimes the ducts may need to be drained, says Pinkerton.

    As your baby transitions to solid food and/or formula and you are nursing less and less the ducts and lobules begin to regress. The excess glands go away, your veins, nipples, and areolae return to normal, and if you return to your pre-baby weight your breasts most likely will return to about their original size. However, not every mama goes back to her pre-pregnancy perkiness, says Gralow. Due to the stretching and expansion of the skin to make room for your added weight you may find that your breasts are a bit deflated. Applying moisturizer to the breasts and nipples throughout pregnancy and post-pregnancy (just avoid the nipple when nursing!) can keep skin pliable and healthy as possible which can lessen stretch marks down the road.
    You know mama's milk is a healthy option for your little one but what about you? With so many choices on the market these days (soy, rice, almond, coconut) what's a new mom to do?

    SEX
    Before we go behind the bedroom door and jump into the juicy details it helps to get some brief background info on the sexual response cycle. Masters & Johnson, the pioneering research team of the '60s and '70s, developed the first sexual response model, which details how we react to the different stages of intercourse. Their version proposed that the cycle was linear with a definitive beginning and an end (orgasm achieved through penile-vaginal intercourse or PVI)). Although this is the most famous example many variations have come along since.

    In the late '90s Whipple and Brash-McGreer proposed a more modern way of looking at the female sexual response describing it as circular rather than linear and acknowledging the fact that many women don't ever climax through PVI. Their version is based on four stages: Seduction, Sensation, Surrender, Reflection. Got all that? Okay let's get to the good stuff!

    The first stage, Seduction, includes everything we do to groom ourselves and prepare for a sexual encounter. That means your breasts can be involved in the sexual response long before sexual activity begins, explains Davis. While you get ready to go out you may be thinking about your partner and the anticipation of the sex to come. You'll probably pick out a bra that makes you feel sexy—will you want something lacy? Silky? Push-up? You may feel the weight of your breasts as you lift them into the cups and imagine your partner unhooking the bra later on.

    In Sensation as you engage in the foreplay that will lead to arousal your heart rate and blood pressure start to increase forcing more blood flow into your breasts and causing them to swell in size. Veins close to the surface of the skin become more prominent, and in response to direct stimulation, your nipples become erect and the areolae puff up. As sex play heats up, the apocrine glands in the areolae release scented sweat, often referred to as pheromones. Although the odor is undetectable, it may subconsciously still increase sexual attractiveness to your partner says Davis.
    When Sensation moves towards the Surrender stage in which climax finally occurs the breasts and areolae continue to engorge. In some women vasocongestion, or swelling of the tissue from increased blood flow, gives the skin a pinkish flush, which usually starts below the breast and travels upward across your chest and neck.

    Direct nipple stimulation whether from the hand or mouth, triggers your brain to release oxytocin, says Davis, and this bonding hormone, also known as the love hormone, may make you feel closer to your mate. According to a study done at Rutgers University that mapped the brain's sensory cortex, researchers found a link between the areas of the brain that respond to nipple and clitoral stimulation. That link might explain why some lucky women are in fact actually able to climax from nipple stimulation alone.

    In Reflection, the final stage of the response, your body returns to its neutral state (unless sex play continues and you get aroused again) and you think back on the entire encounter. Was it satisfying? Was it missing something? How soon do you want to do it again? Typically, within ten minutes your sex flush fades, the breasts and areolae return to normal, and your nipples lose their erection. After orgasm many women find continued nipple stimulation more annoying than enjoyable, a fact you might want to share with your partner if you're feeling overly sensitive.
    Don't overlook your breasts in bed! These wily little seductresses can give you heaps of pleasure so double your fun and try these six ways to enjoy the girls.

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    Re: The Life cycle of your Breast

    A LONG RUN
    A lot probably goes through your mind when you're pounding the pavement alone with your thoughts. Did you pay off your credit card bill? Should you go on a third date with that guy? Will Mr. Schuester and Emma ever find happiness? But we bet you never gave much brain space to what's happening under your tee as you run your worries away. Sure, you automatically slap on that sports bra before heading out the door but did you know your body has its own built-in bra? Your breasts, which are made up of fat, ducts and lobules, connective tissue, lymph nodes, and blood vessels, are attached to your chest by thin, delicate bands called Cooper's ligaments. Woven throughout the breasts, these ligaments help keep your girls standing at attention.

    But, like a rubber band they eventually wear out. And intense bouncing and movement stretches them even more. The result: premature grandma boobs. Sadly, because you can't rebuild ligaments the way you can increase muscle mass, exercise won't reverse the damage once the sag has set in. We repeat: you cannot weight-lift your way back to Perkyville. All the more reason to shell out some coin on a well-constructed, properly fitting sports bra.

    Invest in your chest! Before you hit the gym check out our round up of the best athletic supporters, buy your favorite and keep those ta-tas in tip-top shape.

    PLASTIC SURGERY
    Last year doctors performed more than 296,000 breast augmentations making it the number one cosmetic surgical procedure for the fifth year in a row according to a 2010 report by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. A deeply personal choice, breast enhancement surgery usually takes place under general anesthesia but in certain cases a local might be used instead. Incisions are made in one of three places, says Kathleen Waldorf, MD, FACS, of the Waldorf Center for Plastic Surgery in Portland, OR. Under the breast, in the crease by the armpit, or around the nipple.

    Your doctor will help you determine which incision site works best based on your anatomy and other medical factors. As the surgery begins the doctor makes the incision through the skin then dissects down to the plain where they will create a pocket for the implant. In the majority of cases implants go under the pectoralis (or chest wall) muscle, but they can also be placed above the muscle. Once inserted your doctor checks the positioning to make sure they are even before stitching up the pocket and the surrounding skin with dissolvable sutures.

    If all goes smoothly the average surgery lasts about one and half hours followed by a fairly easy recovery period. After the procedure your breasts will be covered in a padded dressing and bound with an ace wrap, both of which can be removed after 24 hours although some patients prefer to keep the wrap on a few extra days for added support. Any bruising or swelling you experience should resolve itself in about two to three weeks, says Waldorf, so stick to cotton wireless sports bras while you are healing.

    Most doctors recommend you can return to a desk job in 7-10 days, resume light aerobic activity in two weeks, and be back to your normal routine in just 4-6 weeks. Although you'll immediately notice the increase in your breast size it can take up to three months for the implants to drop into their permanent position so don't panic if they seem too high at first. If you have any concerns though talk to your doctor—she'll want to see you the day after surgery, a week after, followed by three weeks after, three months, six months, and then a year. After that you'll want to get checked out every 2 years to be sure the implants are holding up well.

    A boob job might seem like child's play compared to some of the new surgeries hitting operating rooms near you

    MENOPAUSE
    You may be light years away from hot flashes and mood swings but in a story addressing mammary milestones it's hard not to mention the unavoidable 'change of life.' As you transition out of your childbearing years the body begins to deplete its levels of estrogen and progesterone, the hormones responsible for stimulating those ducts and lobules used for breastfeeding, says Gralow. Without hormonal stimulation that milk delivery system closes up shop and regresses back towards the chest wall. When it shrinks down the fat and fibrous tissues that make up the breasts lose a large part of their support system. In other words:

    you're entering the dreaded droopy boob zone! Post-menopausal boobs can lose shape, size, density and firmness. And while it makes sense that a decrease in hormones would decrease breast size, on the flip side some women actually end up with a heftier load strapped to their chests. "Since your metabolism starts to slow down in old age it's harder to lose or even maintain your weight which means menopause often comes with extra pounds and that can add up to a larger cup size," says Pinkerton.
    In the early stages of menopause when hormones are really fluctuating some doctors will prescribe hormone replacement therapy. While it's true that HRT can help a patient struggling with their symptoms as well as postpone those unfortunate changes in breast size and shape, after recent studies have shown a connection between the treatment and higher incidences of heart disease and breast cancer most physicians won't rely on it as a long-term solution, says Gralow. And since there's not much short of surgery you can do to reconstruct post-menopausal boobs the best thing to do is earmark some of that retirement money for a supply of super supportive boulder holders!

    You may not be able to avoid the inevitable changes aging brings but you can take action to live a long and happy life
    .

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