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DocSpot: Lopsided breasts

Dear Dr Margaret
I read on your website that one in 20 women has lopsided breasts. I think it is obvious that my left breast is smaller than my right, but everyone I ask says they hadn’t noticed it. Could it be because I used to squeeze my breasts before I went to be bed when I was 12 years old, as I was told by a stupid friend that this would help them grow? I’m 27 now.

Your question raises some interesting points.
The first point is about lopsidedness. I do say in the breast section that one in 20 women has lopsided breasts, but this is just a rough estimate of those with a noticeable difference. In truth, we are all slightly lopsided. Test this by looking in the mirror while covering one side of your face with a sheet of paper. Then move the paper to cover the other side. You will see that the two sides of your face are slightly different. Similarly, almost everyone has one foot very slightly bigger than the other. The same is true of breasts, although the difference is usually too small to be noticeable.
The second point is about being aware of our own defects. Generally, we are our own severest critics – we are experts about what is wrong with our bodies. We notice things that other people don’t. So if your trusted friends say there is no noticeable difference, you should believe them.
The third point is about ways of making breasts larger. Breasts cannot be enlarged by squeezing them or by any kind of exercise. Exercises that strengthen and enlarge the pectoral muscles, which are part of the chest wall beneath the breast, may make the breasts seem larger, but the actual breast tissue remains the same. The glandular tissue of the breast responds to hormones, which is why some women find their breasts enlarge when they are on the pill. There are a lot of websites selling so-called ‘natural’ pills to increase breast size. I don’t know what these pills contain. If they work at all, they must contain some sort of hormone. Some claim that they contain only soya extracts or other plant extracts. Some plant extracts (including soya) contain substances called ‘phytoestrogens’ that work like the female hormone oestrogen, but with a much weaker action. I don’t know if they could have any effect on breast size, but I think you would have to take very large amounts, which could be harmful.
The fourth point is about blaming yourself. We get a lot of emails from people worrying that their body has shaped up the way it is because of something they did to themselves when they were younger. For example, a lot of men worry that masturbation could have affected the size or shape of their penis, which is not the case. In fact, the basic form of your body is determined by your genes (unless, of course, you had a severe illness in childhood).

Last updated; Monday, September 7th 2020

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