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If you think your boobs are constantly changing, you’re not alone; and FYI, it’s totally normal. Heightened sensitivity? Grown overnight? Leaky nipples? We promise this is all completely normal – well, most of the time! But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t understand what’s causing these changes as it can be a little worrying. And because it can be a bit of an awks topic, we wanted to answer every boob-related question you might have. We spoke to board-certified gynecologist and hormonal wellness expert, Rebecca Booth, to find out everything. So now, if your boobs jump from a C to a D, you’ll be able to decode what’s really occurring.

Why did my boobs get bigger?

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If your boobs suddenly change size, don’t jump to the conclusion that you’re pregnant, as there are so many more reasons for fluctuation in breast size. Dr. Booth breaks it down:

Hormonal changes: “Estrogen is the hormone that inspires breast enlargement at puberty. Progesterone (the hormone that dominates after ovulation and during pregnancy) causes the glands in the breast to become more active and increases the fluids in the breast, resulting in increased breast tenderness and fullness. You’ll most likely experience this during the first two weeks of your cycle, before your period and during pregnancy.”

Weight gain: “Weight gain sometimes causes the fatty tissue in the breast to enlarge, even after menopause. This is especially common in women with type II diabetes or pre-diabetes or those who inherit this tendency.”

Birth control: “Some women experience breast enlargement with birth control pills or other methods of contraception that contain estrogen. This is common in younger women with low body weight who may have not reached full maturity or didn’t ovulate regularly before taking the pill.” Make sure you check out this post to find out how contraception affects your skin.

If you’re a gym bunny: “Increasing the size of the pectoralis muscles under the breast may increase the apparent size of the breast.” So, if you want fuller boobs, get to the gym and work on those pecks!

Why are my nipples SO sore?

sore nipples

If you’ve ever put on your bra or someone’s accidentally grazed your boob, and it hurt a little more than normal, a hormonal change could be happening in your body. Dr. Booth explains the cause:

Why your nipples are sore: “Surges in estrogen and/or progesterone can cause nipples to become sore at various points in your menstrual cycle. Other hormone imbalances can trigger breast pain such as a low acting thyroid gland, pre-diabetes or diabetes, pituitary growths, as well as certain medications, especially some mood-regulating medications.”

When your nipples are likely to be sore: “Generally, the nipples are less sore in what I call the “Venus Week” (days 7-14 following your period) when progesterone is low and estrogen is dominant, also known as the fertile window. A surge in estrogen combined with progesterone such as a few days after ovulation [around day 12-14 in your cycle] or during early pregnancy, can markedly increase nipple soreness. Aggressive stimulation of the nipples (i.e., after a long run without support) can also result in sore nipples,” so always make sure you wear a sports bra when exercising!

Have your nipples changed color?

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Nipple color can vary pretty drastically from woman to woman – some nipples are pink, whereas others are brown or have a purple tint. Whatever the usual color, it can also change during different times of the month. Dr. Booth gives us the 411:

What causes nipples to change color: “Surging levels of female hormones can trigger growth peptides that actually stimulate the nipples to enlarge and increase pigmentation [aka change color]. Pregnancy and birth control pills can increase melanocyte action – the cells that make melanin and cause increased pigmentation. This is also the reason for the linea nigra, or “line of pregnancy,” which is a dark line down the center of the abdomen.”

Is nipple discharge normal?

nipple discharge

To answer your question – yes it is, although it’s not as common as a change in breast size. If you’ve ever experienced leaky nipples, you’ll know how confusing it can be. Again, don’t assume that you’re pregnant, which is the most common reaction!

Why your nipples are leaking: “After puberty, all women have some fluid in the milk ducts of their breasts, whether they notice it or not. This clear fluid is more prominent in the PMS time of the month and may sometimes dry on the nipple causing a slight crustiness. Stress, caffeine (or xanthines), sugar, weight gain, and iodine deficiency can increase the amount of fluid discharged from the nipple.” So basically, don’t panic, it is quite normal!

When nipple discharge is a concern: “A dark brown, bloody or greenish discharge may indicate a serious medical problem in the breast ductal system, particularly if it is just one-sided. Any changes that do not seem clearly related to a woman’s hormone cycle or that persist over time should be evaluated by a clinician.”

The most important thing you need to know:

Dr. Booth reminds us; “Breasts and nipples vary markedly from one woman to another. Most of the changes are related to hormones and hormonal variation. As a rule, most changes are normal, but it’s really important for a woman to stay familiar with her breasts and to seek attention from a qualified health professional for changes that do not seem temporary, cyclic, or especially if they affect one breast and not the other.”

With all of these changes, the most important thing is to be familiar with your boobs, so you can better understand what is normal for you. This means regularly checking your breasts (every month) will help you spot any lumps or changes. Check out our guide on how to check your boobs here – we promise it will be the most important thing you do today.

breast cancer awareness

If you’re unsure if any nipple discharge, change in shape or size, or breast size change is normal, always check with your doctor. Let us know what body-related concern you want us to write about next, in the comments below.