While the major function of female breasts is to feed infants with the milk produced during pregnancy, these mammary glands have become fetishized by Western culture to have a more sexual connotation as well.
The media has long fixated on breasts in association to physical attractiveness to the point that it affects many women’s perception of their own body image. It’s hard not to pass a magazine cover or advertisement that isn’t using a woman’s chest to some degree of titillation.
Despite our culture’s penchant for sensationalizing breasts on an aesthetic level, there’s a lot of things people don’t know about them. Here are 16 facts about boobs that are interesting.
1. Humans are the only animals with permanent breasts and even scientists aren’t sure why. All other primates only grow sizable chests when breastfeeding, but humans remain busty even after menopause. According to LiveScience, No one can confirm why this is, however, some scientists believe it could be a form of biological deception.
2. According to Pacific Heights Plastic Surgery, breast enhancements have been the number one surgical cosmetic plastic surgery in the US and world for over a decade. In 2007, there were almost 400,000 breast enhancement surgeries performed in the US.
3. The size and shape of one’s breasts is largely influenced by genetics. Richard Bleicher, M.D., revealed to Shape that chest characteristics can come from both sides of the family, which means genes from the father’s side can also affect the appearance of a woman’s breasts. This is why siblings may have varying chest sizes.
4. Having an uneven chest is far from abnormal. According to Florence Williams’ book Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History, one breast is usually about a fifth of a cup size larger than the other. For most women, the larger breast is usually the left.
5. Breasts are more prone to dryness in comparison to the skin on the rest of a woman’s body. According to LiveStrong, this is because the skin over the breast is much thinner, which is why some women may feel they need to moisturize the area more during the winter months.
6. A study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that some women can actually climax solely through stimulation of the nipple. This can happen when the genital sensory cortex of the brain is provoked through self-stimulation.
7. Smokers are more prone to end up having a saggier chest than non-smokers. Women’s Health explains that carcinogens in cigarette smoke cause the elastin in the body to break down, which will inevitably lead to breast sagging.
8. The average American bra size is 34DD, according to a survey by the lingerie retailer Intimacy. Interestingly, this is an increase from the 34B average it was 20 years prior.
9. A woman’s breast size doesn’t matter when it comes to breastfeeding. Lactation consultant, Debbi Donovan, explained on iVillage, “Larger breasts have a higher proportion of fatty tissue, compared to glandular tissue, but this has no effect on the amount of milk you’re able to produce.”
10. Breast size fluctuates on a regular basis, says Johns Hopkins Medicine. Due to the levels of the horomones progesterone and prolactin during the premenstural phase, women can experience as much as a full cup size of breast growth.
11. According to Dr. Alexander & Co. the average breast weighs 1.1 lbs and contributes to about 4-5% of the body’s total fat.
12. Annie Hawkins-Turner, also known as Norma Stitz, holds the Guinness World Record for having the largest natural breasts. Her 70-inch chest is a result of gigantomastia, a rare condition characterized by excessive breast growth.
13. Just like male genitalia, breasts swell up and get erect when aroused. According to Marie Claire, the average nipple is just a bit taller than 5 stacked quarters when erect.
14. Psychologists Viren Swami and Martin Tovée conducted two studies which found that resource security impacts men’s female breast size preferences meaning that men who prefer larger chests were more likely to be less financially secure.
15. Sleeping on your chest can affect your breasts’ shape. Dermatologist Dr. Laurie Polis told Cosmopolitan, “Pressing your breasts against a mattress all night can, after at least a few years, change their shape.”
16. While pregnant, the nipple can actually darken. Alexander Swistel, M.D., explained to Cosmopolitan, “Newborn infants are color-blind, so the darker color serves as a can’t-miss bulls-eye for the baby to find its food source.”