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Despite the fact that more than half of the population has them, the average person doesn’t really know much about breasts.
In fact, some of these things that you hear from friends, your mom, aunts, sisters, and the other people who identify as women in your life may just be myths. To separate fact from fiction, INSIDER consulted the pros. Here are some myths that we should probably just stop repeating.
Breasts stay the same size
You might think your boobs stay mostly the same size over the course of your life, but that’s actually not true.
“[People] don’t realize that even a weight gain as little as 5 pounds can affect your bra size,” Jené Luciani, author of “The Bra Book,” told INSIDER. “It’s important to pay attention to the changes in your body and how your bra looks and feels, and as a rule of thumb get a professional fitting or fit your self every year.”
The size of your breasts indicates how much milk you’ll make
Moms-to-be planning to breastfeed may want to know if there’s a way to figure out how much milk they’ll be able to produce once the baby comes.
It might sound logical that the size of your boobs directly relates to milk production, but it’s not exactly that simple. “The truth is that size only matters if the breasts do not change during pregnancy,” lactation consultant Leigh Anne O’Connor said.
If your breasts change (and they likely will), then you won’t be able to tell how much milk you’ll produce based on how big or small your boobs are.
Breastfeeding causes your breasts to sag
Lots of women have been told that if they breastfeed, their breasts will get saggy. “The truth is that age will cause breasts to sag,” O’Connor said.
Breastfeeding itself doesn’t “make” your breasts saggy, so if you’re on the fence about breastfeeding, at least that’s one thing you don’t have to worry too much about.
Genetics doesn’t play a role in breast size
Although genetics aren’t the end-all, be-all when it comes to breast size, they do play some role.
“Breast size is a combination of genetic and environmental factors,” Dr. Constance Chen, a plastic surgeon, told INSIDER. “Some people are predisposed to larger breasts. In addition, as people gain weight, their breasts also become larger.”
Luciani explained that sagging, breast volume, and breast shape can also be genetically-influenced. Of course, you may not be able to trace those genes directly, so just because your sister has bigger breasts than you do doesn’t mean that your size isn’t also partially influenced by your genes.
You can wear the same size bra no matter the brand or cut
Most women wear more than one size bra, whether they know it or not, so it’s a myth to think that you’ll be able to just throw on the same size no matter the brand, cut or fabric.
“Bras fit like jeans, so you can wear different sizes,” Kim Caldwell, a bra fit expert, told INSIDER. “Depending on the cut, material, even the manufacturer’s sizing method – you can wear many different bra sizes that each fit. In fact, I can wear 9 different sizes that all fit! It’s also why I suggest not to dwell too much on the letter and number on your bra, and to use numbers as information, not a definition.”
It doesn’t matter if you think you’re a size 34C. Although you might be that size in that one bra, if you try it on in another style, it could be all wrong.
You absolutely cannot sleep in a bra
You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t ever sleep in a bra, period. Although it’s probably not a good idea to sleep in your everyday underwire, it’s not exactly true that you can’t sleep in any bra at all.
“The body really spreads out, bends, and moves in a different way when it’s lying down versus standing up,” Caldwell said. “So if you do choose to sleep in a bra, I highly suggest that it is something without an underwire, made of a very soft and stretchy material. Your bra should not be as snug at night as it is in the daytime. It should be much more flexible.”
Dawn Kenney, Wacoal national consultant manager, suggested a bralette if you want to wear something while sleeping. A soft cotton bra might be a good choice for you as well.
You can exercise your way to bigger boobs
How many times have you heard someone talk about exercises that they claim will make boobs bigger? Turns out, it’s BS.
“Your breasts are made of tissue, not muscle. Now there are muscles behind your breast tissue, but working them out will not alter your breast size,” Kenney said. “Aside from medical enhancements, the only thing that causes your breast to grow (up or down) are hormonal changes & gaining or losing weight. There is no magic pill or potion.”
Breast implants last forever
Although you may think that the breast implants you get in your 20s will last long into your 50s and beyond, that’s just not the case.
“In the United States, breast implants have a 10-year warranty, and they can cause problems before then,” Chen explained.
They won’t last forever, so if you choose to get them, you should know that going in you’ll probably need to get it replaced down the line.
Breast cancer is usually genetic
Bizuayehu Tesfaye / AP Images
If you’ve ever been told that breast cancer is usually genetic, that’s actually a bit of an oversimplification.
“Actually, less than 10% of breast cancer is genetic,” Chen said. “The overwhelming majority of breast cancer is spontaneous with no hereditary component.”
Although your genetics can influence your risk in some cases (like if you have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation), just because you don’t have a history of breast cancer, it doesn’t mean you’re completely in the clear. You can still develop the disease without having relatives who’ve also had it, which means you should be getting checked, and checking yourself, regularly.
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